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Makes about 3 cups hot sauce.

Note:Muscovado sugar can be found at most cooking and baking supply stores. To minimize the heat, remove the ribs with the seeds. And when working with chilies, be careful. The capsaicin in the oils can burn your hands and eyes. Wear gloves when handling the hottest chilies such as these Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, and work in a well-ventilated area. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling the peppers.

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

¾ teaspoon grated nutmeg

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1½ teaspoons ground allspice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoons salt

¼ cup muscovado or dark brown sugar

6 to 9 Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers, stemmed and chopped

4 teaspoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 bunches scallions, chopped (green and white parts)

Zest and juice of 4 limes

¼ cup distilled white vinegar

¼ cup dark rum

¼ cup oil

½ to 1 cup water

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the pepper, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, salt, sugar, peppers, garlic, ginger, scallions, lime zest and juice, vinegar, rum and oil. Pulse a few times to form a coarse paste.

2. Transfer the mixture to a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and simmer for three to five minutes, stirring frequently, to marry the flavors.

3. Remove from heat. Place the mixture back in a food processor or blender and blend to form a smooth sauce, thinning as desired with one-half to 1 cup water. Strain if desired. To store, refrigerate the sauce in a covered glass bottle or jar.

Nutritional information for each tablespoon: 16 calories; 0 protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 1 gram fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 195 mg sodium.

From Noelle Carter, Los Angeles Times

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