Schezwan sauce is one of the popular condiments coming from the land of Sichuan in China. Sichuan Cuisine is known for its characterstic bold garlicky and chili flavors. This sauce is made primarly of those 2 ingredients. It is also called as Sichuan or Szechuan sauce. It is very popularly used in Indo-Chinese recipes and is now available pre-made in stores as well.
Where to use Schezwan Sauce?
- Sichuan sauce is usually used in Sichuan Cuisine and lots of Indo-Chinese recipes like Schezwan Chicken.
- You can mix it with regular ketchup to get chili garlic ketchup (which is very popular back in Pakistan)
- You can mix it with Mayo to give you a nice dip.
- Use it for chicken and fish marinations.
- Add a tablespoon of Schezwan sauce onto your pasta sauce to add a bold flavor.
- You can use it directly as a spicy condiment with dumplings or pakoras.
The characteristic feature of Sichuan sauce are the Sichuan peppercorns. They are small and red in color and I usually use about 8 to 10 of them in this sauce. But I didn’t have any at hand when I made this batch. So I skipped it. It has a nice tongue tickling sensation which sets is apart. So I would definitely recommend you to get some. But like you can see, you can still make a kickass Schezwan sauce without it
Making the Schezwan Sauce
Essentially Schezwan sauce is just garlic, oil and chilies. And I believe that’s how it should be. Adding too many extra sauces and spices balances out the sauce and its unique tangy spicy flavor. It is after all a condiment, and condiments aren’t balanced, they are supposed to be loud and bold so that when used in recipes they can add that effect to our dish.
Step 1: Chili Selection
You can use whole round chilies or the dried long ones. Both will give you similar result. The other concern while selecting chilies, are its seeds.
If you want a smooth sauce, you can remove the seeds from the chilies. I personally don’t mind the seeds, and in fact, I think it brings character to the sauce. But the seeds also add to the spiciness of the sauce. You CAN remove the seeds if you want to reduce the overall heat of the sauce.
Step 2: Making the chili paste
Soak the selected red chilies in hot boiling water and cover them. Let them soak until the water comes down to room temperature.
Discard the water and blend the chilies in a food processor with a little bit of water to give you a smooth paste with seed bits in it.
DISCLAIMER: Please! I beg you! Do not, I repeat, DO NOT touch your eyes or face during this process. 🙁 Don’t ask.
Step 3: Making the sauce.
To make the sauce, put oil in a pan or a wok. You can use Chili oil too if you want to boost the chili flavor.
So Schezwan sauce, in general, has a lot of garlic in it. I’ve added 1 whole garlic pod for this recipe. They are finely chopped.
Tip: When you finely chop the garlic, make sure they are as even as possible, so that they brown evenly.
Wait until all the garlic turns a nice golden brown color. Then add your chili paste in.
Cook it with a little bit of water to get the rawness out of the chilies. Add a little bit of salt for seasoning. I’ve also added a little bit of brown sugar and vinegar in the mix to act as preservatives.
Cook for 2 to 3 mins and turn off the flame. Cover the sauce and let it cool down. Once it cools down, you can fill it up in an airtight jar and refrigerate.
How long can it last?
The sauce has a couple of preservatives in it. So if kept at a stable temperature in the fridge, it can survive for 2 to 3 months. If you freeze the sauce, it can survive indefinitely.