Mom’s Vietnamese Sauce

1 package annatto seeds
1 cup canola oil
6 oz chili flakes
1 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoon fish sauce
½ jar shrimp paste
8 oz minced frozen lemon grass, thawed
½ cup granulated sugar

1. Make the coloring by blooming the annatto seeds in 1 cup of canola oil. Do not let it boil, simmer for about 3 minutes, remove from heat and strain the seeds from the oil. Throw the seeds away.
2. Make the chili oil by adding 1 cup of canola oil to the chili flakes. Bring to a near boil, add the fish sauce and remove from heat.
3. Make the final sauce by sauteeing the lemon grass in 2 Tablespoon oil. Add the shrimp paste. Mix and add the chili oil to desired spiciness. Add ¼ cup of sugar and determine if that’s to your liking, otherwise, add sugar until the balance of flavors. Remove from heat.

It’s recommended to make this outside, as the shrimp paste is super pungent. Saute garlic in the oil if desired – remove the garlic before continuing.

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