If you live in the UK (or one of thirty – thirty!! – other countries), chances are when you hear the words ‘peri peri sauce’, your mind will immediately go to a certain restaurant famous for its Portuguese food. That place definitely inspired these halloumi and portobello burgers – it’s a combination I’ve loved for years. The salty halloumi and juicy portobello mushrooms just go so well with the spicy peri peri sauce.
I usually use a shop-bought peri peri sauce when I make these, but this time I thought I’d experiment with making my own from scratch. I read about twenty recipes online, realised they were all different, and decided to just wing it instead. Turns out, winging it was pretty successful! This homemade peri peri sauce definitely tasted similar to the restaurant stuff. The recipe below only makes a small batch – just enough for these halloumi and portobello burgers, with a little left over – but you could easily triple or quadruple the recipe if you want to make a batch to keep in the fridge.
You only need a few ingredients to make your homemade peri peri sauce. The key ingredient is bird eye chillies, which are pretty easy to find in UK supermarkets. I’m sure you could use other hot chillies if you can’t find these, as long as you appreciate that the flavour will be different!
A word of warning: bird eye chillies are hot. Very hot. Somehow, the finished peri peri sauce is nicely spicy, but the chillies themselves are the kind of hot that makes your forehead tingle when you scratch an itch. The kind of hot that makes you afraid to touch your eyes even hours and hours later, that makes you not want to give the dog a treat in case she licks your fingers, that makes you want to sterilise everything they come into contact with. That hot. So wear gloves when you cut them up – please.
I don’t wear gloves often when I cook, but they’re definitely worth it when you’re chopping chillies, especially these bird eye chillies. I used the new Marigold Extra Safe Disposable Gloves, which worked perfectly to keep my hands eye-friendly. They’re latex free, so they’re great for people with a latex allergy (which is apparently 6% of the population!), and they’re safe for using with food. They’re easy to put on (without that terrible powder that some gloves use), comfortable to wear, and nice and strong. As well as chopping chillies, they’re also great for smelly foods (I love garlic, but don’t want to smell like it all day, thank you), and foods that stain your hands (I’m looking at you, beetroot).
Plus they make you feel a bit like a doctor, which can’t be bad.
Since the seeds of a chilli are where most of the heat is, I removed probably about 90% of the seeds in my bird eye chillies (I allowed the final 10% to slip through mostly due to laziness, but also because I do like things fairly spicy – remove all the seeds if you prefer). Then you just blend up the chillies with a few other simple ingredients, and you’ve got homemade peri peri sauce! I never knew it would be so easy.
You can use your homemade peri peri sauce however you like – it’s great to use as a marinade or dipping sauce, or splashed on top of your dinner. As I mentioned, in homage to one of my favourite restaurants, I used mine as a marinade for my halloumi and portobello burgers – which I suppose aren’t burgers in the normal sense of the word, but since I ate them in a roll, I’m going to allow it. You can cook these on a BBQ if you fancy eating al fresco – if not, a griddle pan works too!
(You may notice that the smaller piece of halloumi in the first of these two pictures is no longer present in the second. I certainly can’t explain how that happened.)
The end result is a spicy, salty, juicy mixture that works so well in a roll, or pitta bread, or whatever sort of bread you fancy. Please make these halloumi and portobello burgers – you won’t regret it. Unless you don’t wear Marigolds and get chilli in your eye… then you might regret it a little.
- 6 bird eye chillies (or other small hot chillies, if you can't find bird eye)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp honey
- Black pepper
- 2 portobello mushrooms
- 1 small block halloumi cheese (~ 150g / 5oz)
- 2 crusty bread rolls
- 1 tbsp creamy salad dressing
- leaves Salad
To make the peri peri sauce, remove the seeds from the bird eye chillies, and add them to a mini food processor with the garlic. Blitz until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil, honey, and a pinch of salt and pepper, and blitz thoroughly until the sauce becomes orange.
Place the portobello mushrooms in a lightly oiled griddle pan, and cook over a medium-high heat for a few minutes each side, until nearly soft.
Cut the halloumi into around 6 slices (thicker slices tend to work better), and add to the pan with the mushrooms. Spoon a little of the peri peri sauce over the halloumi and mushrooms, and when the halloumi is golden brown underneath, turn everything over and add more peri peri sauce. You may have a little sauce left over - just keep it in the fridge until its next use.
Serve the peri peri halloumi and portobello mushrooms in crusty bread rolls, with creamy salad dressing (to counteract the heat!) and salad leaves.
Note: Nutritional information is approximate, and will depend on exactly what ingredients you choose.