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pique sauce

This recipe was destined to be shared with the world. In 2010, while Adam’s band was touring the West Coast, they stumbled upon a Puerto Rican restaurant called Sol Food just twenty miles north of San Francisco. None of the guys had ever tried this type of cuisine before, but everyone instantly fell in love. The outside of the restaurant was painted a vibrant green and the interiors were decorated with colorful vintage doors and lush tropical plants. Adam ordered a flat pressed vegetarian sandwich with avocado, roasted red peppers, sautéed onions, organic greens, sliced tomato, Jack cheese and a tasty cilantro-lime mayo, and it was one of the best sandwiches he had ever tasted. On every table in the restaurant there was a mysterious bottle of red sauce with no label, and as the guys looked around, they could see other customers generously pouring it over everything: sandwiches, black beans and rice, and yuca. Well, they started by adding a few tentative drops to their dishes, but by the end of the meal they were all practically drinking it straight from the bottle. It was spicy, tangy, and deeply flavorful: filled with bright chiles and just the slightest hint of sweetness, it was unlike anything Adam had ever tasted, and he had to find out more about it.

As it turned out, the sauce was available for purchase, and he couldn’t wait to bring some home! The bottle was packed tightly in his suitcase, and the day he got back we tried the sauce together, drizzled on some crispy tacos. Ryan’s reaction was just as enthusiastic, and sure enough, that first bottle lasted less than a week. We realized that our pique sauce habit would start adding up quickly since we would have to pay about twenty dollars per bottle to get it shipped to LA. So instead, we went online to see if we could find a recipe for this glorious hot sauce. We typed in “Sol Food”, “Pique”, “Recipe” and remarkably, a link came up on Yelp from a review that “Scot L” had written about Sol Food, and we were thrilled to read his words: “After my first visit, I set out to copy the Pique recipe because I was instantly addicted. I’ve got a good one now…” With nothing to lose, we wrote to him and asked if it was shareable. He immediately replied, sending us the recipe along with a caveat that we not post it online.

At the time, we didn’t have a cooking blog, and we had no plans whatsoever to share it with anyone, so we kept it to ourselves and enjoyed every bottle we made. But six years later, Husbands That Cook was born, and we wanted to share this wonderful Puerto Rican hot sauce with the world. Hoping that Scot L. would still be reachable on Yelp, we wrote to him explaining the situation. Again, he quickly responded with an enthusiastic yes! So thanks to Scot for generously sharing this personal recipe with us and our readers. Once you try it for yourself, you will see why we have become so obsessed with it.

Making hot sauce at home is fun and easy! You simply combine chiles, garlic, onion, and carrots in a blender with vinegar, mix it up, and that’s it! To add extra flavor and kick, this recipe uses vinegar that has been soaking for days with fresh green jalapeños, and each bottle of pique sauce is garnished a whole serrano chile. It’s perfect on sandwiches, pasta, salads, burritos—anything that could be brightened up with a tangy heat! You can even fill small bottles and give spicy gifts to some very lucky friends. We have been enjoying this sauce for over six years, and are thrilled to share it with you today, so you too can experience its delicious and addictive flavor!

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glass bottles
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quart measuring cup
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• a ninja blender is pictured here, but we have since upgraded to a KitchenAid ProLine.

Pique Sauce
inspired by Sol Food, adapted from a recipe by Scot Lang

5 green jalapeño peppers
4 cups white vinegar
40 dried chile de arbol peppers, stems removed
6 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 serrano chile per bottle, stem removed

Remove the stems from the jalapeño peppers, and cut halfway through the peppers, leaving them whole. Place the white vinegar in a large measuring cup or bowl, and add the scored peppers. Let them soak, covered and refrigerated, for 12 to 48 hours. Then discard the peppers or use them for another recipe.

In a medium pot, combine the dried chiles, garlic cloves, onion, and carrot. Add a few cups of water until the vegetables are covered. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, until the carrots have softened. Pour the vegetables through a fine-mesh strainer, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer the vegetables to a blender, then add the vinegar from the jalapeños, the rice vinegar, 1 cup of the vegetable cooking liquid, the salt, and pepper. Process until completely smooth and blended. Taste, and add vinegar or more cooking water if needed to reach the desired acidity. Pour the pique sauce into bottles for storage, and add one whole serrano chile to each bottle to soak. The sauce can be used immediately, but the flavor improves after a few days of rest. Try on all your favorite foods, and enjoy!

— The pique sauce will stay fresh in the refrigerator for weeks, possibly even months, although we always finish it off before then!