Versions of sweet chilli jam appear in many cuisines. This version is inspired by the chilli jam found in Central Vietnam, or tương ớt in Vietnamese. I first tried it in Hoi An with some Cao Lầu. This homemade jam is delicious and a very versatile addition to a wide range of dishes.
While a spoonful of this wonderful condiment is necessary for a bowl of Cao Lầu or Mì Quảng, its versatility goes way further. These mussel spring rolls were all the better for a spoonful of sweet chilli jam, as were these falafel.
With something like sweet chilli jam, every producer has their own special recipe. I purchased a few jars of what is essentially homemade sweet chilli jam during visits to Danang and Hoi An. No preservatives, so for a while, everything I ate had chilli jam on it! That was my research, and subsequently, I tried a few variations and settled on this one as the best balance of flavour, heat, and sweetness. I am confident this recipe is at least as good as those jars I purchased, and those jars were all great.
It is worth emphasizing the comment in the recipe about wearing plastic gloves when preparing the chillis. Always wear gloves when handling chillis. You really need to take this advice seriously. Ignore at your own risk!
This YouTube video from the wonderful vlogger Helen from Helen’s Recipes provides a great visual guide. This recipe does differ from hers, though. While she uses tomatoes to balance the sweetness and spiciness, I find using red peppers delivers a deeper, more satisfying flavour while fulfilling the same function.
Sweet Chilli Jam – Central Vietnam style
- 150 g small hot red chillis
- 150 g large mild red chillis
- 1 large red pepper
- 1 litre boiling water
- 1 head garlic
- 5 shallots
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 150 g raw sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds
- Make a slash along the side of the chilli peppers.
- 1/4 the red pepper and remove pith.
- Blanch chillis and red pepper in boiling water for 3 minutes.
- Remove the chillis and red pepper from the boiling water and add to ice water.
- Remove the stems and seeds from the chillis and red pepper and add the red flesh to a blender. USE GLOVES when handling the chillis.
- Add 1/2 cup water to the chillis in the blender and pulse blend until chunky.
- Crush the garlic and finely dice the shallots.
- Sauté the garlic and shallots in the oil until starting to brown.
- Add the blended chillis and red pepper to the pan.
- Add 150 g raw sugar and 1 tsp salt and simmer for 40 minutes, or until the jam reaches your desired thickness.
- Add the roasted sesame seeds and stir in.