Sili Labuyo / Bird’s Eye Chillies


It’s time to load up on authentic sili labuyo once again! I wrote a very extensive entry on this fantastic chilli just over a year ago (worth reading if you haven’t already, though I got no comments as I probably only had 10 regular visitors a day at that point in the blog) and it’s absolutely fascinating how I can tell what time of the year it is by the stuff my sukis are carrying… I was thrilled to see a fairly large massing of real sili labuyo (not the farm raised Taiwanese hybrids that have proliferated in the past 5 years or so) at the stall of a lady I go to at the FTI Taguig market. I don’t even know her name despite the dozens of times I have purchased the stuff on her tables but I do know she grows all of it on her own farm…and that makes it doubly good stuff. Last Saturday at the market she had about 700 grams of sili labuyo (several hundred pieces) so I bought all of them. Yup, that’s right, ALL of them!

It’s time to change the chillies in my vinegar bottles so I washed asili2the sili labuyo, removed the stem ends and distributed them among three used and clean white wine bottles (so they are clear and not dark green). Add some really good native or cane vinegar and let it steep for at least 1-2 weeks before using. The last batch I made was refilled several times and made it through an ENTIRE year! There is something truly addictive about this vinegar and it is something that you will always find in Marketman’s pantry. Superb with fried dried fish, fried fresh fish, grilled meats and seafood, eggplant salad, etc… I probably use it more than soy sauce and less than ketchup!


19 Responses

  1. MM, i thought this siling labuyo “shortage” was true only in these parts (Davao). whenever my husband sees labuyo in the market, he buys up the vendors’ inventory since they are increasingly hard to find here. we’ve tried planting some seeds, and they’ve started sprouting so let’s see…

    in addition to siling labuyo, we also put shallots, ginger and garlic in our vinegar bottles. but the cardinal rule for our excellent sawsawan is, start with very good sukang tuba. the next rule should be: “splash onto crispy danggit, or lamayo, or beef tapa, or on sliced fresh tuna or malasugui for the best kinilaw”. tara na sa davao!

  2. This might seem like a silly question, but do you slice some chilli pieces to bring out the spice more? I always assumed the seeds give the kick in chillis.


  3. we also make those at home, usually two kinds of chili vinegar. One using a good sukang iloko, some cloves of garlic, peppercorns and heaps of sili.

    the other one with native vinegar (arengga pinata), garlic, some slices of ginger, garlic, peppercorns. very similar to the sinamak of the visayas.

  4. They say chilis are higher in vitamin C than citrus fruits. But can you imagine biting a labuyo to get your regular daily dose. Maybe if some of that vitamin leaks into the vinegar mixture I can justify eating more chicharon!

  5. You can also use chili on your plants. Bugs, especially ants hate it. Soak chili in water in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture on your plants so that those pesky little bugs will avoid them.

  6. Millet, yes, there does appear to be a shortage of the REAL sili labuyo. MJM, not a silly question really. Slicing will ensure a spicier vinegar in a faster timeframe. But I find that leaving the chilli intact but soaking it for at least a week results in a more subtle “burn” that continues to seep out for many months (actually, a year on my last batch). lee, I have tried to plant these on several occassions but I have a black thumb and I never have enough sili when I need it. tei, I do like the suka with other things too although I sometimes find the raw garlic and too much ginger to be overpowering. Nevertheless, I like that style of vinegar as well. Mon C, it may have Vitamin C, but more interesting, chillies are addictive and thus once smitten, you always look for more! Anne, good grief, I DO learn something every day… now I know how to get rid of these killer red ants we have at the beach…

  7. I like sili labuyo with native vinegar. Somehow I think they are not as mouth-watering when I put them on bottled vinegar (Del Monte or Datu Puti or the other commercial brands) …or is it just my imagination?

  8. May I suggest you blanch any sili, garlic, shallots, etc. BEFORE adding to vinegar. You are courting possible contamination otherwise, re salmonella, botulism, amoebc dysentery, etc. The vinegar is not acidic enough to kill any of the above, contrary to popular belief.

  9. gonzo, yup, live vinegar eels!?! Most native cane vinegars, unless pasteurized, actually have live vinegar eels in them… if you put them under a low magnification microscope you see them wiggling away…yipes! sister, yes, I usually blanch the stuff I put in the vinegar, as suggested in my much earlier post on chilli vinegar, but this time around I wanted to see if there was any difference without blanching as most of the country doesn’t bother to blanch and hopefully we won’t get any of the really bad bacteria…

  10. Hopefully? May I remind you 20 of your mother’s guests, including the celebrant, came down with amoebic dysentery after her 30th birthday party when native suka with chilis was purchased at the beach to go with the lechon… Lola had them in an entire ward at the hospital overnight. The kids present escaped because we ate ketchup.

  11. Just yesterday, i was looking for some datu puti in my local oriental shop to do this! It must be that time indeed!!!

    The last one i had was made by my brother and he used the English Malt Vinegar – which i have accustomed to use now and much prefer the malty taste of. Maybe i ought to stick to malt – the live vinegar eels sounds scary!

  12. ooohhh…never knew about the bacteria part. grew up hearing that suka was so potent that it could kill the bacteria in kinilaw! will make sure to blanch the “panakot” (have always been amused by that term) from now on. thanks for the reminder, sister.

  13. Hello I was just wondering if someone, anyone, could send me genuine siling labuyo seeds here in Mississauga, Ontario Canada L5R 1S6..salamat

  14. I knew there is another kind, smaller and more potent, i can say the name but im not sure how it spells. (sili pacity, pasiti, pasete). a lot of them in batangas.

  15. I grow sili labuyo, here in Glendora California. I make a Hot Sauce wich I sell to the Vietnameese that they use as a starter or in their soup or use it to dip their fish. This stuff is Hot. I am now making a new reipe using the Kalamansi juice fresh from my back yard and some other ingredients to use as a dip or additive to our nilaga or sinigang or any other barbeque. My supply is very limited because I do not have a farm to go on mass production. So my sauce are seasonal. By the way I used distilled venegar wich makes the sauce smell to strong. I am now experimenting with cane vinegar and will try the coconut. Who knows this might make the difference.



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