If you’ve ever eaten with Tibetans, you know that it is rare to have a meal that does not involve sepen, Tibetan hot sauce. Tibetan food itself tends to be mild, but that doesn’t mean that everyone doesn’t fire up almost every dish on the plate with dollops of sepen. This can include pretty much anything, from momos to breakfast foods to things like tingmo (steamed rolls), and shogo katsa (spicy potatoes).
There are a wide variety of different kinds of sepen. One style we particularly love is a thick, chunky version we learned from our friends Nyima la and Kelsang la, which has no tomato and is essentially pure red chilis with some great flavorings.
The fast, easy and extremely flavorful version you see here comes from our dear friend, chef Tsering Tamding, who shows you how to whip up a quick batch in the video below. Tsering la’s sepen is a smooth, non-traditional version, with a tasty tomato and celery base.
Be careful, it is very spicy! If you would like less spice, then reduce the amount of chili and increase the tomato and celery.
Video: Chef Tsering Tamding Teaches you How to Make Sepen
The hot, hot, hot final product:
You can get recipes and videos for almost every classic Tibetan food, in our Tibetan Home Cooking ebook and video series for sale for just $27 >>
The written version of this sepen recipe is available for free, along with the video and written versions of Lobsang’s chunky-style hot sauce recipe, when you sign up for the YoWangdu Tibetan Culture newsletter in the box below. (The chunky style recipe arrives on week three, and Tsering’s tomato-based hot sauce recipe comes on week five.) In addition to the hot sauce recipes, you will get the video recipes for butter tea (po cha), pull-noodle soup (thenthuk), savory porridge (drothuk), and tsampa with butter tea (pa).
By Lobsang Wangdu