This Asian chilli jam is a delicious sweet and spicy sauce recipe prepared with hot chillies, ginger, garlic, and rice vinegar.
We took inspiration from various Asian-style chilli sauces and jams and then combined them into something unique, easy to make, and healthy.
In particular, we took some elements from classic Thai and Chinese sauces like Thai sweet chilli sauce, Thai chilli paste (nam prik pao), Chinese sweet and sour sauce, and the famous Sriracha sauce.
The result is a simple jam that effectively balances sweet, spicy, fresh, and sour notes. It locks in all the wonderful flavours of famous Thai and Chinese sauce ingredients: ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, red peppers, bird's eye chillies, and rice vinegar. It's delicious!
To make this chilli jam recipe healthy and low in calories, we worked hard to reduce the amount of sugar required to get the right sweetness and thickness.
How did we do it?
First, we replaced caster sugar with maple syrup. Maple syrup is way less processed and refined than table sugar; it has fewer sugars (weight-by-weight) and a lower glycemic index. Plus, it gives the perfect glossiness to our chilli jam.
Second, we used starch as an additional thickener, thus further reducing the need for sugar and cutting down on calories. When you add starch to a jam and cook it for a few minutes, it will quickly swell and absorb the liquid, forming a thick, glossy mix.
Starch is perfect for thickening low-sugar jams like this one, and it's super easy to use. No need for extra sugars or pectin. Awesome!
Once your Asian sweet chilli jam is ready, you may be wondering what to eat with it. Well, you have so many options! It's perfect for adding flavour to stir-fries and as a glaze or marinade for meat, tofu or veggies.
It's also great as a salad dressing or as an Asian-style chutney. You can find lots of tasty serving ideas in our FAQ section.
Now, time to grab all the ingredients and prepare this sweet and spicy chilli jam together!
NOTE: The default ingredients yield 300g (11 oz) of chilli jam and one serving is 25g (1 oz).
What type of chillies can I use to make this chilli jam?
The best chillies for this Asian jam would be fresh and ripe red bird's eye chillies, also known as prig kee nu in Thai.
They're small, thin, and pointy chillies, and they're a staple ingredient in Thai and Chinese cuisine when it comes to adding some spiciness.
However, if you feel that bird's eye chillies are too spicy for you, you could use cayenne and tabasco chillies, which are milder, or opt for even mellower red jalapenos or piquillo chillies.
How does chilli jam taste like?
This chilli jam locks in all the wonderful flavours of Thai and Chinese cuisines. It's sweet and spicy, thanks to the combination of roasted peppers, maple syrup and bird's eye chillies. You'll also have fresh notes from garlic and ginger and a piquant kick from soy sauce and sesame oil. Delicious!
Is chilli jam spicy?
If you use only bird's eye chillies to prepare this Thai jam, it will definitely be spicy.
These chillies are quite hot as they're rated between 50,000 and 100,000 Scoville heat units. But keep in mind that the chillies will taste less spicy once the jam has cooked and cooled down.
Still, if you think that bird's eye chillies are too spicy for you, you can replace half or two-thirds of them with milder chillies, like cayenne chillies or red jalapenos, or use more roasted red peppers.
If instead you're ready for a challenge, you could tip in a few bits of very hot chillies, like scoth bonnets, or even try the devilish Carolina reaper chillies.
Can you make chilli jam without sugar?
Sure you can. In our recipe, we already reduced the overall sugars and opted for less processed maple syrup, but you can also go 100% sugar-free using zero-calorie erythritol sweetener.
This safe and natural no-sugar sweetener looks just like sugar and tastes almost as sweet as it. It's 30% less sweet than sugar, so you can swap it ratio 1:1.3 to prepare this chilli jam recipe.
Are all Asian sweet and chilli sauces gluten-free?
Our Asian chilli jam is 100% gluten-free because we used gluten-free soy sauce, also called tamari.
Many Asian-styled sweet chilli sauces and jams use soy sauce as an ingredient. Although soy is itself gluten-free, traditional soy sauce is not, as it contains wheat.
But tamari is a type of soy sauce made without any added wheat, so it's safe for those on a gluten-free diet.
How long does this chilli jam last once opened?
If you seal the chilli jam properly, using either the water-bath or the flip method, then the jam can keep quite well for 3 months when stored in a cool and dry place like a cupboard.
But once you break the seal, or if you don't want to bother canning it, then you should put it in the fridge and consume it within a couple of weeks.
If you are interested, check out the FAQ of our sugar-free plum jam recipe where we talk about how to seal and preserve homemade jam.
What can I do with this Asian chilli jam?
It's also great to glaze and marinate tofu bites or veggies. For example, you could use this chilli jam in our Chinese firecracker tofu recipe, as it shares many ingredients with the firecracker sauce.
Another fabulous way of eating chilli jam is to serve it as a dip for prawn crackers, pastry bites like spring rolls, or even vegetable dumplings.
You can even make a tasty salad dressing with it, mixing with a little vinegar and sesame oil, and finish it off with some crunchy cashews.
Finally, this spicy garlic jam works miracles on cheese, crackers, and toasted bread: it's an excellent chutney for your cheeseboard! And if you can't eat cheese, check out this vegan cashew cheese recipe for a plant-based option.
- Red Peppers
- Garlic Cloves
- Fresh Ginger Root
- Fresh Red Chillies (Bird's Eye Chillies)
- Chinese Rice Vinegar
- Gluten-Free Soy Sauce
- Maple Syrup
- Sesame Oil
- Chilli Powder (optional)
- Starch (Potato or Corn)
Let's start by roasting the peppers.
Halve the red peppers, remove the seeds and the inner membranes.
Place the peppers halves, cut-side down, on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Roast them at 200°C (400°F) for 25 minutes until they lightly blackened and their outer skin is wrinkled.
Once ready, cover the peppers with cling film and let them cool down for about 10 minutes or until they're cold enough to handle.
The steam trapped under the cling film will help loosen the peppers' skin.
Now, peel off the skin and discard it.
Transfer the roasted and peeled red peppers to a food processor, followed by peeled garlic, ginger, and red chillies.
If you want the jam to be a little less spicy, you can remove the seeds from the chillies before blending them.
Now, blitz all into a smooth paste.
Transfer the chilli paste into a pot and tip in the rice vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup, and sesame oil.
As for the chilli powder, you can omit it for a mellower chilli jam or use our recommended amount for a spicy jam. You can even increase the quantity if you'd like your jam hot and fiery; it's really up to your personal taste.
We recommend tasting the jam regularly while it cooks and adjusting the chilli powder accordingly.
Ok, now, bring the jam to a boil and simmer it over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring it occasionally.
The chilli jam will sputter while it cooks, so cover the pot with a splatter guard. Don't use a lid as you want the jam to reduce and lose any excess water.
Dissolve the starch with a little cold water in a cup and then stir it into the chilli jam.
Keep stirring the jam while it cooks for 3 more minutes or until it's thick, glossy, and jelly-like.
Keep in mind that it will thicken even more while it cools down.
Finally, let the Asian chilli jam cool slightly, transfer it to clean jars, then leave to cool down completely before serving.
Then, store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
If you want to preserve the chilli jam long term, use sterilised jars and fill them to the brim. Then, place the lid on, quickly flip the jar upside down, and screw in the lid tightly. Leave it for 30 minutes before storing it away; this way, your jars will have a proper air-tight seal.
The jam will keep for 3 months in a cool, dark cupboard.
Add this delicious Asian sweet and spicy chilli jam to stir-fries and salads, or use it as a glaze for tofu, veggies, and meat, or as a spread on crackers.
To prepare this garlic chilli jam, you can swap maple syrup with sugar-free erythritol sweetener for a sugar-free preserve.
You can sterilise the jam jars and lids by dipping them in boiling water for at least 15 minutes, then allow them to drain upside down on a clean towel and keep them warm and dry in the oven at 160°C (320°F).