What Can I use instead of sweet chilli sauce (5 Substitutes)
Can I use other sauces instead of sweet chilli sauce?
Yes, you can use other sauces instead of sweet chilli sauce. Below, we will be discussing the best possible substitutes for sweet chilli. Our top picks for the same are:
- Hot Sauce + Honey
- Plum Sauce + Red Pepper
- Spicy Soy Sauce
- Chopped Red Bell Peppers + Red Pepper Flakes + Honey
- Apple Cider Vinegar + Soy Sauce + Red Pepper Flakes + Honey
Mintel values the U.S. market spices and condiments at $5.6 billion. Driven by its core audience, 18 -to-34-year-old consumers, that market will swell to $7 billion by 2015, as new whole-grain mustards, spicy ketchups, fruit-flavored salsas, blended aiolis, chutneys, and hot sauces become available at grocery stores. India contributes 25–30% of the total world trade in spices. Nine spices—pepper, ginger, clove, cinnamon, cassia, mace, nutmeg, pimento (allspice), and cardamom —constitute 90% of the total world trade, and about 50 of the 86 spices produced in the world are grown in India (1).
What is Sweet Chili Sauce?
Popular in Thai culture, sweet chili sauce also known as nam chim kai is a sauce condiment. The basic ingredients for this sauce are rice wine vinegar, red chilli peppers, and sometimes there is garlic and fish sauce. The sweetness is achieved by adding a sweetening ingredient. Oftentimes these are from fruits, refined sugar, and of course, honey.
In a study, sweet chili sauce was prepared with crushed chili and garlic, salt, vinegar, and a thickener agent, such as xanthan gum or carboxymethylcellulose, sugar syrup and citric acid. These ingredients act as preservatives to extend the shelf life of the product (2).
The Best Replacement for Sweet Chili Sauce is Hot Sauce + Honey
Every kitchen has a hot sauce bottle around. If you cannot find sweet chili sauce around the house, pair a teaspoon or hot sauce with a tablespoon of honey. It is the easiest and quickest way to make yourself a sweet chili sauce alternative. Ensure that the hot sauce has a lesser amount of vinegar. The best hot sauce for this concoction is sriracha sauce as it has a tomato, sugar base, and garlic. It is wiser to avoid tabasco or Louisiana sauces for this particular recipe.
In a study, scientists produced honey chili sauce using green and red and Punjab sindhuri chili varieties. All the samples were acceptable even after 8 months of storage based on their sensory scores with intact nutrients. Honey chili sauce may add spice and flavor to cuisine and can be used as a wonderful dip aside from a dish. Value addition of chili with honey can add flavor as well as health-promoting properties of both to the food (3).
Other Alternatives for Sweet Chili Sauce
Plum Sauce + Hot Sauce/Red Pepper
This is a rather unconventional choice. What it lacks in color, it makes up in flavor. Plum sauce, therefore, will have a lot of sweetness to be paired with the fire. You can mix a tablespoon of plum sauce with one teaspoon of the hot sauce of your choice. You can use crushed red pepper instead of a hot sauce if you want, for this mixture. This concoction is ideal when preparing noodles, coconut shrimp, salmon, or wings.
Plums are rich in carbohydrates, including sugars and are reported to be high in natural phenolic phytochemicals, such as flavonoid and phenolic acids. It is also rich in pectins and fibers. Plums are suitable for producing jams, juice and sauce, which is made with the addition of vinegar, sugar and spices (3).
Spicy Soy Sauce
You can make your version of a spicy soy sauce by using sugar/honey, chili sauce, soy sauce, and if you would like sesame oil. It will have the same fiery kick that we find in the sweet chili sauce. This alternative is truly one-of-a-kind. While it doesn’t necessarily substitute for sweet chili sauce completely, it is a good replacement in tough situations.
Soy sauce is made using essentially five basic raw ingredients: soybeans/ soybean flakes (as the main protein source), wheat/wheat flour (as the main carbohydrate source), salt, water, and Aspergillus oryzae / Aspergillus sojae, salt-tolerant yeast and lactic acid bacteria. Flavor and color development during the production process are attributed to enzymatic reactions, along with additional non-enzymatic Maillard reactions occurring between amino acids and reducing sugars, lipid oxidation, and esterification. Maillard reactions occur at higher temperatures and trigger the formation of a wide range of molecules which, in combination, create the characteristic and distinct soy sauce flavor and color (5).
Chopped Red Bell Peppers + Red Pepper Flakes + Honey
If you would like to replicate the look as well as the taste for sweet chili sauce, we would advise you to use red bell peppers and red pepper flakes. After chopping the red bell peppers into small cubes, and adding the honey, sprinkle the red pepper flakes.
Bell peppers contain vitamin C, which improves the immune system, prevents infections, increases the growth and repair of tissue, and helps in avoiding cancer; and also vitamin A that is good in improving eyesight, enhancing the lung function, and likewise enhances the immune system (6). Differently from bell peppers, red peppers or chili peppers are spicy. The active principle that causes the heat in chili peppers is an alkaloid, which is generically called capsaicin (4).
While this is a sweeter choice, it makes up for it by the flavor. If you don’t want to use honey, rice syrup or agave are good options. However, it is important to note that the sweetness level will not stay the same.
Apple Cider Vinegar + Soy Sauce + Red Pepper Flakes + Honey
If you are looking for a healthy substitute, then mixing together one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with half tablespoon of soy sauce, half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, and half tablespoon of honey is the best option. All the ingredients are easily available at home too. Other elements such as ginger and garlic can be added for an extra kick of flavor. You can switch out the red pepper flakes for a bit of hot sauce. This sauce comes in handy when you are making vegetables, stir-fries, fish, and maybe spring rolls.
The major component of cider vinegar apart from water is self-evidently acetic acid. Major volatile constituents of cider vinegars other than acetic acid were acetaldehyde, ethyl formate, ethyl acetate, ethanol, isobutanol, 2-methylbutanol, isopentanol, and 2-phenyl ethanol. Bitterness comes from tannins and phenolic compounds, especially procyanidins of apple (7).
Why should you substitute chili sauce?
There are a number of reasons to consider when it comes to consuming chili sauce. Some of the most common reasons why people prefer to substitute chili sauce are as under:
To avoid allergy
While being allergic to bell peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, or cayenne pepper is rare, a person who is allergic can face severe consequences if they consume chili sauce. This is because chili sauce may initiate an allergic reaction. In such a case, you may choose a sauce with different ingredients.
Although in food allergy primary sensitization via airborne allergens can be assumed, it is conceivable that hot spices can promote antigen transfer through epithelia and thereby augment sensitization or allergic reactions (8).
For individuals with heat intolerance
Some people can not handle spicy food that well. Sweet chili sauce can be too strong for people who are sensitive to chili heat and should either be substituted or avoided. Some studies suggest that Solanaceae spices (paprika, cayenne pepper) increase permeability for ions and macromolecules and for mucosal blood flow (8).
In this brief article, we discussed the five alternatives one can use instead of Sweet Chilli Sauce. Plus, the best sauces that can be paired with what kind of food, without compromising on the taste.
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Diez-Simon, Carmen, et al. Chemical and sensory characteristics of soy sauce: a review. J Agric Food Chem, 2020, 68, 11612-11630.
Olaes, Eldrin James, et al. Bell pepper and chili pepper classification: an application of image processing and fuzzy logic. Int. J. Sci. Technol. Res, 2020, 9, 4832-4839.
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