Num-Numb Sauce

Two bottles of Num-Numb Sauce enveloped in a pile of chili flakes.

Every time I make my own fermented hot sauce, I’m left with just about half of the original weight in funky dried chili flakes. These are fantastic on pizza or ground up as chili powder, but there is still a whole lot of it.

Don’t fret! You can squeeze out even more flavor from those flakes for a salty, sweet, and spicy sauce, great for dumplings or just straight up on some rice.

This is a simple recipe that just uses volumetric units, since I just threw this stuff together once and it turns out it actually tastes good. Don’t judge me too harshly!

  • 1 cup shoyu (I prefer tamari)
  • 1/2 cup Chinese black vinegar
  • 1 cup packed fermented chili flakes
  • 1 Tbsp toasted Szechuan peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar

Toast the peppercorns and then combine everything together into a pint mason jar. Close the lid and let sit on the counter for at least a day, but a week or more is better.

When you’re satisfied the flavors have had a chance to properly mingle, you have a few options for finishing the sauce:

  1. Strain the sauce through a fine mesh strainer, pressing out as much liquid as possible. This will result in the thinnest sauce and the most waste—you’ll get less than a cup of sauce. You can finally toss the solids, but if you have another application for them I’d love to hear about it!
  2. Put through a food mill. You’ll get about 1 cup of sauce, with just a little bit of rehydrated chili pulp tho thicken it up a bit.
  3. Put the whole mixture into a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. You may still have some bits of seed that need straining out, but this method will result in the thickest, most powerful sauce and the least amount of waste—approximately 2 cups.

I have to admit that I haven’t tried method #3 yet, but I plan to with my next batch, so I’ll update with the results and some pictures then.

This sauce should be fairly shelf-stable, but I won’t give you any guarantees or estimate it’s shelf-life.