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Chili Pepper Water

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Chili Pepper Water is beloved Hawaiian condiment made from garlic, chilis, and vinegar. Think of it as a Hawaiian hot sauce. Here's where to get it and how to make it.

Bottle of housemade Chili Pepper Water on the table at Saimin Dojo in Kauai.

Chili Pepper Water! Also known as Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water or Chili Peppa Watah. 

What is Chili Pepper Water?

Chili Pepper Water is Hawaii's default spicy condiment. We use it the same way you use hot sauce or shoyu (soy sauce)...in abundance and with joy.

Every household and restaurant has their own recipe for chili pepper water (like how everyone has their own go-to butter mochi recipe). There is no right or wrong way to make Chili Pepper Water, but there are many variations.

The basic Chili Pepper Water recipe features: garlic, Hawaiian chili peppers, Hawaiian salt, white vinegar and water.

You just mash the garlic, chili peppers and salt till it's all incorporated. Put it into a glass jar. Boil white vinegar and water together, and then let cool. Pour the vinegar-water mixture into the glass jar. Seal and give it a good shake. Store in the refrigerator. 

Chili Pepper Water has a very thin consistency. I love the vinegary tang and how you can make it super garlicky.

How to use Chili Pepper Water?

Splash on anything! If you have a plate lunch with rice/chicken katsu/macaroni salad, you can splash the Chili Pepper Water on all three parts. I definitely do that. It's also SO GOOD on lau lau or drizzled into a hot bowl of saimin. I can't think of any savory food that Chili Pepper Water wouldn't be good on.

Now the most important part...

Where to get Chili Pepper Water?

Order Online

If you're not in Hawaii (and don't want to make your own), you can easily order Chili Pepper Water online. I recommend ordering from Maui-based Adoboloco (they make a bunch of great spicy products) and Kauai Juice Co.

Local Supermarkets

You can find pre-made bottles in pretty much all supermarkets in Hawaii. The above photo was taken at the Beretania location of Times Supermarket. You see those red bottles on the bottom middle-right side of the photo? Thats all Chili Pepper Water...

...here's a closer look at the bottles. Most people keep a bottle or two of Chili Pepper Water in the fridge at home. It always comes in handy. 

Hawaiian Food Places

All the good Hawaiian food spots will have Chili Pepper Water. Many Hawaiian food spots are primarily takeout, in which case you'll see little containers of Chili Pepper Water sold for anywhere from $.35 to $1 per container. They are a must have with your Hawaiian plate lunch. 

This photo was from a Hawaiian plate lunch I had at Yama's Fish Market (one of my favorite Hawaiian food spots). I got rice, lau lau, lomi lomi salmon, poke...and of course, a container of Chili Pepper Water to go with it all.

If you go to a sit-down Hawaiian restaurant like Helena's Hawaiian Food, the Chili Pepper Water will be a table condiment, usually next to the shoyu (soy sauce) 🙂 . I love that photo! And I love Helena's!

Local Food Places

I've mentioned this a bunch of times before, but local Hawaii food is completely different from Hawaiian food (a bit more here)...I'll do a bigger post on this soon because it makes me all nuts when people lump the two together. So! Many local Hawaii food spots also have Chili Pepper Water.

Above is a photo I took at Amaebi HI in Chinatown (home to great amaebi/spot prawn plate lunches). The owner makes his own Chili Pepper Water and also incorporates dried, crushed amaebi shells into the Chili Pepper Water. Super cool!! Goes to show all the different variations you can find. 

Make Your Own

Up for making your own Chili Pepper Water? It's easy! Here's how:

Chili Pepper Water

Chili Pepper Water

Chili Pepper Water is Hawaii's favorite spicy condiment. Made from garlic, chili peppers, salt, and vinegar, Chili Pepper Water is easy to assemble and is open to endless adaptions.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 Hawaiian chili peppers, stems removed and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt
  • 2 ounces white vinegar
  • 8 ounces water

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, mash together 5 garlic cloves, 2 Hawaiian chili peppers, and 1 teaspoon Hawaiian sea salt.
  2. Boil in a small pot: 2 ounces white vinegar and 8 ounces water. Remove from stove and let cool.
  3. Put the garlic/chilli/salt mixture into a glass jar. Pour the cooled vinegar/water over the mixture. Give it a few good shakes to incorporate.
  4. Store the fridge for 2-3 days before using. Use liberally!

Notes

  • If you can't get Hawaiian chili peppers, feel free to substitute Thai chilis.
  • This recipe is open to endless variations. Feel free to add more/less garlic. Include a splash of shoyu! Or slices of ginger. So many things you can do ^_^


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Mahalo for Reading!

Dan

Saturday 21st of November 2020

Just made it...now I’m waiting!!! I started growing Hawaiian chilies in the back yard with great yields and looking forward to tweeking the recipe and making gifts. Thank you for this post! Aloha!

Kathy

Saturday 21st of November 2020

Hi Dan! So cool you grow your own Hawaiian chilies! Those will be some very lucky recipients. Hope you enjoy the chili pepper water! ^_^ - Kathy

Nelson

Wednesday 30th of September 2020

I found chilli pepper water in New Orleans, the people of Mississippi love the water. I uses half water and half vinegar to cut out the salt. Pepper and garlic to taste.

Kathy

Thursday 1st of October 2020

Hi Nelson! Ahh that is super cool! I hope to make it to New Orleans one day ^_^ - Kathy

Jasmine

Wednesday 5th of August 2020

I was reading up on this and wanted to know how chili pepper water got to be a delicacy in Hawaii. I really thought it was a drink, not a condiment. But this looks like a simple recipe for me to try at home!

Kathy

Thursday 6th of August 2020

Hi Jasmine! It's super easy to make! We just use it like hot sauce...but it's even more tasty :) - Kathy

Liv

Saturday 1st of February 2020

Just realised Chilli pepper water is like Okinawan Koregusu which is made from local small chillies soaked in their local spirit Awamori... they drizzle it over everything, from soba to fried rice... I love it so much!

Kathy Chan

Saturday 1st of February 2020

Hi Liv! Very cool! There are so many neat ties between Okinawa and Hawaii...I'll make sure look out for koregusu next time I'm at one of the Okinawan restaurants here in Honolulu ^_^ - Kathy