This relish has such good flavors and intense heat; just the right combination of spicy, sour, salty and sweet harmonizing together to create a condiment which will enhance any plate. I tasted it for the first time during the spring of 2016 when I was working on one project in Taiwan. Most of our lunches and dinners were prepared by a Thai woman who was making this spicy sauce/relish to accompany the food.
I believe that this sauce/relish is actually some variant of Nam Phrik (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nam_phrik) but I am unable to find a recipe online which matches the one I know so I will continue to call it ChengLong Spicy Sauce after the town where I know it from.
- 100g dried anchovies
- 100g fresh Bird's Eye/Thai chilies
- 200g tomatoes (cherry tomatoes are ideal, but use what you have)
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 1/4 tsp of salt
- 3 or 4 tbsp of oil
- 1 or 2 tbsp of lemon juice (to taste)
- a deep frying pan
- a knife
- a spatula
ChengLong Spicy Sauce is fiery and addictive but it can also cause some serious burning during the preparation as well as when you are eating it so take precautions when cutting those chilies and pace yourself when eating it. As there are probably innumerable variations on this recipe, you can also try adding garlic, onion, fish sauce, tamarind paste, dried shrimp and other ingredients to specialize it to your own particular palette.
One idea to warm up the holiday season of your friends and relatives is to multiply the recipe and make a really large batch so that you can give pack ChengLong Spicy Sauce into bottles and give it away as inexpensive but heartwarming and very appreciated gifts.
Step 1: Fish Fry
Start making your ChengLong Spicy Sauce by frying your dried, headless anchovies in 2 or 3 tablespoons of oil.
Remove them from the oil and set them aside after they've browned a bit around the edges, leaving the oil in the pan.
Step 2: Chili Chop
Chop your chilies into very small pieces and fry them in the fish oil for a few minutes.
*You can also chop your chilies while frying the dried anchovies
**It might be a good idea to wear gloves while chopping the chilies so that you wont end up getting capsaicin in your eyes or any other sensitive areas of your body.
Step 3: Tomatoes and Such
Add chopped tomatoes to the pan with chilies and oil then season with salt and sugar.
Step 4: Sauce Becoming
Cover and cook your tomatoes and chilies for several minutes until the cellular structure of the tomatoes has broken down and you can mash up the ingredients in the pan to become a somewhat smooth consistency.
Step 5: Return of the Fish
Add the dried and fried anchovies back to the pan with the spicy sauce and cook down to a desired thickness.
*If eating them whole is a bit daunting for you, feel free to chop them up into more manageable pieces but when I originally ate this in Taiwan, the fish were served in the sauce whole.
Step 6: Acid and Fat
Add lemon juice and more oil to your sauce, to taste.
*Sesame oil would be a good addition but could also overwhelm the other flavors so be careful not to add too much.
Step 7: Bottle/Eat
Bottle your ChengLong Spicy Sauce or serve it right away to accompany any number of dishes.
If bottled, allowing it to sit in the fridge for a couple of weeks will allow the flavors to blend and develop but don't be surprised if it is consumed before it can achieve its full potential.