We eat a lot of sambal, a spicy Southeast Asian chile-based condiment. At its heart, it simply contains chiles and salt, but other ingredients can be added to liven it up, such as garlic, vinegar and sugar.
I made my own version of garlic sambal with a couple surprise (non-traditional) ingredients. The result is really good, though I also credit the positive outcome to the quality of the fresh-picked chiles from my garden. The peppers chosen ('Hot Portugal' and red jalapeños) are only moderately hot, so this sauce can be eaten like a spicy, slightly sweet, garlicky ketchup. I make small batches, but the recipe can be doubled.
1 pound fresh, red chile peppers, whole with tops removed
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 small apple, peeled and sliced
3 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
Add the chiles to a medium saucepan and put on medium to medium-low heat. Add 1/3 cup of the vinegar, salt, and cover. Cook the chiles for around 15 minutes or until they have softened. Next add the water, remaining 1/3 cup of vinegar, agave syrup and apples. Cover and cook for another 15 minutes or so until the apples have softened and the liquid has reduced.
Allow the mix to partially cool. When it's still warm, transfer it to a blender or food processor along with the fresh garlic cloves. Mix it until smooth, then taste. Adjust the flavor with more agave syrup and salt as needed. If it's too thick, add a little water or vinegar. Place in a lidded glass jar and refrigerate.
Use as a condiment or as an addition to marinades and sauces.