Spicy Guava and Habanero Rum Sauce

Sweet guava gets some heat in this boozy sauce from Makani Gerardi
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Spicy Guava Rum Sauce
Photo: Katie B. Foster/Tasting Table

Guava paste is a fun ingredient to work with. It has all the floral sweetness of the tropical fruit, but it's cooked down until it thickens so much that you can cut it into cubes when cooled. L.A.-based chef Makani Gerardi balances the paste's sweetness with spice and smoky rum in her complex sauce, which is a great marinade for meat and fish, or a great spread for any sandwich.

We think half of a seeded habanero is plenty to add on to the spice of the Sriracha. However, if you're inclined to kick up the heat quite a bit, blend the sauce with the other half.

To learn more, read "Makani Gerardi's Secret Weapon."

Spicy Guava and Habanero Rum Sauce

Recipe adapted from Makani Gerardi, Pono Burger, Los Angeles, CA

Yield: 3 cups

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes


3 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound yellow onions, roughly chopped

6 ounces (¾ cup) guava paste

1¼ cups water

⅓ cup Sriracha

5 tablespoons dark rum

2½ tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons tomato paste

5 teaspoons light brown sugar

2½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

⅛ teaspoon curry powder

1 star anise

½ habanero pepper, stemmed and seeded

Kosher salt, to taste


1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until soft and light brown around the edges, 8 minutes.

2. Add the remaining ingredients, except the habanero and salt, then bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender with the habanero. Purée until smooth, then season with salt. Allow to cool completely before using, then store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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