How could I not have thought of it before?
Actually, I did not think of it at all. The idea came from A-te J. After trying out the various kinds of suka (vinegar), and figuring out which I like best, and then deciding to buy Sukang Tuba (native coconut vinegar) and Sinamak (native spiced vinegar) on my next supermarket day, A-te J told me to make my own. And when she told me, I actually smacked my forehead!
After all, how hard would it be to make your own spiced vinegar???
A cursory look at the label made me realize that it was totally doable! After all, if I could make my own vanilla extract, surely I could make sinamak. A-te J, who hails from the southern regions where sinamak is popular, told me that it was as easy as placing ginger, onions, garlic, peppercorns, green and red siling labuyo (or similar) in a bottle and pouring in my suka of choice (tuba, of course!) and waiting a couple of weeks! In her home province, they mix their own all the time (they ferment their own suka, too!). And here’s the best part, A-te J says that when their bottle runs low on the suka, they just top it up with more suka and it’s good to go!
As for the recipe? According to A-te J, just dump in matchstick slices of ginger, garlic, and onions into a glass bottle. Add black peppercorns (I added white peppercorns also) and birds eye chilies (or the local labuyo) with the stalks removed and pour in the suka (vinegar) of your choice (mine is obviously tuba).
(my proportions – Stuff the following spices in a liter bottle – 1/2 cup chopped labuyo (bird eye chilies), 1/8 cup thin ginger strips, 8 smashed cloves of garlic, 2 teaspoons cracked black and white peppercorns, 1 small onion, sliced thinly into strips. Pour in sukang tuba (native coconut vinegar) and give the bottle a shake or two. Leave it in a cool dark place for at least 2 weeks. The longer the time, the spicier the it gets!
Now all I have to do is wait!