Thursday, May 12, 2011

Revolution Red

I spend many of my days running a fine art print shop called INKubator PRESS.  It's an amazing space with an unrivaled location in Kansas City's art district.  I work with a huge number of artists these days, both in collaboration and as a service provider.  One of these artists, Eric Lindquist (pressman at Hammer Press) works pretty closely with me and he always quotes a professor he had who had outlawed making prints in black and red.  It's a print cliche going back to Soviet, Chinese and Socialist poster works.  Constructivism used it too.  It's a simple formula using the white of paper, red ink for emphasis and black ink for graphic layout.  I'm guilty of using this; most printmakers are.

The thing is, it's a beautiful and effective formula.  Shepherd Fairey's work uses it over and over with great effect.  Other well known artists too.  On one side, printmakers can disavow it and not use it, while others use it with the authority provided by the history of prints on paper.  Artists set out to do something new, but often the newness stems from scraps and shards of things from our collective past.  We recontextualize the paths of our lives and research only to bring forth new-ish derivations, which hopefully some day contribute to the creations made by future generations of artists.  It's a great chaotic cycle.

Alas, this post isn't intended to talk about art, but more importantly my daily consumption and newfound love for the creation of....that's right, hot sauce.  I love it.  I'm a glutton for the endorphine rushes provided by my collection of red-chile condiments.  What I recently set out to do was deconstruct my favorites and land on a recipe of my own.  I've gotten pretty close.  The reviews thus far are fantastic.  I think the latest Batch #3 is my best work yet, and yes, it's called "Revolution Red".  I thought it was fitting and as things are still in turmoil in many parts of the world.  It seems poignant that the thing offering zest to my meals should be named for the process through which worlds are transformed.  Most food to me is better after a splash of red.  Revolutions re-write the maps of many cultures and civilizations including our own.  Here's my recipe so far for you to try it.  Read the whole recipe first for pointers and suggestions at the end.

Revolution Red
Batch #3


  • 120 chile de arbol peppers (chile japonaise also work just the same)
  • 2 garlic cloves
Smash the garlic cloves and throw in a 1 qt sauce pan with the chiles.  Add water to cover.  Boil the peppers in the large sauce pot for 30-45 minutes.  Stir every five or ten minutes as they tend to float and thus some will cook and others not.  

Allow to cool and drain the liquid.  It's bitter and not tasty in the final sauce so do not keep the cooking liquid. 

  • 1 1/2 c. water (add more for the consistency you like)
  • 2-3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • 1/2 tsp corriander powder
  • 2-4 tbsp extra hot chile powder
  • 1/2 c. white vinegar (I use Hunts.  Cheap brands seem more acidic and crappy)
  • 1 tsp cayanne chile powder
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tsp mexican oregano (crumble it up in your  hand before adding it to release the flavor)
  • 1 fresh garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tbsp honey

Place cooked and drained chiles in your food processor.  (If you used some bigger peppers, make sure to remove stems which can't be good to eat)  Pulse them a few times.  Add all the other ingredients and pulse the crap out of it until you have a smooth sauce.  In the end, it's a smooth mixture, but the seeds and skins of the chiles is left in the sauce as the pulp.  You may want a thinner or thicker mix, which relies on the amount of water you add.  My best batch had 2 c. water.  When it comes to salt, vinegar and water, the amounts can vary.  The other spices add little flavorful assets, but can be altered or traded out for flavors you like.

If you want to use other peppers: 
Go for it!  Mix and match, but know that this recipe is formulated for chile de arbol.  I eat the seeds and skin in this one just fine, but other chiles aren't as tasty this way and need to be separated from the liquid which is below.  Chipotle chiles make a completely different sauce, as do others.  I've tried dried pasilla peppers, New Mexico hatch chiles, and others.  Hit up your local Mexican mercado and I bet they have giant bins of great chiles you could try. 
You can also run the whole mix through a food mill or cheese cloth, and have a completely different consistency.  I would not add nearly as much liquid if you do this as the body of the sauce won't be as good with no pulp.  I'll post my Batch #1 recipe which is more of a thick sauce made from different chiles and way more vinegar.  
If you have success with this batch, just know that it's the tip of the hotsauce-berg.  There are so many spin offs.  Think scotch bonnets, mango sweetness, asian spices, and even flavored vinegar concoctions. If you try this out, let me know how it goes.  What is your take on it, and what did you do the same or different?

Try it as a marinade, try (sesame oil, soy sauce, chinese chile sauce, hoisen, garlic, ginger, and revolution red) an asian derived sauce for dumplings.  Make it a bbq sauce.  Make it a pizza sauce.  Red chile hummus.  Eat it on everything and live with the satisfaction that you can always make more.

Good luck to you.



1 comment:

  1. I vow to give it a go using instead a variety of asian chiles in lieu of the latin varieties, as asian are more readily available.