“He ordered the souvlaki with hot sauce,”my friend informed me. “His nose bled all night!”
“All night?” I was dubious.
“All night!”she insisted.
I suppose it was intended as a cautionary tale but the first thought that entered my mind was: “I’ve got to try that hot sauce.”
I’ve always been a fan of spicy. One of the first Japanese phrases I learned before going to Tokyo for the first time was “Karai no ryori wa dai suki desu” (“I love spicy food!”) lest they fear offending an overly sensitive gaikokujin palate. When I go out for pad gra prow, I dismiss foreigner (farang) spicy in favor of Thai (phet mak mak) spicy. Hell, I’ve even started making my own hot sauces.
But even though I like the heat, I am picky. I’m not a huge fan of the tamer cayenne-based hot sauces only because I tend to find them too vinegary. The beyond hot sauces are certainly hot, but their flavor is akin to liquid rubber. Give me an island hot sauce, something with a habanero or scotch bonnet base. Incorporate onions and garlic for flavor, the sweetness of fruit to compliment the heat, maybe even a touch of mustard to give it an extra little kick.
The other day, Akemi took all of my hot sauces out of the back cupboard and suggested I deal with them – which essentially means toss them or consume them in six weeks I have left in Vancouver. Well, I’m up to the challenge! But first, a little sample to find out if they’ve stood the test of time (aka – haven’t gone bad sitting in the pantry since 2010).
I remember the first time I sampled this one – just a touch on the end of a dipped toothpick. It was pretty intense. A friend of Akemi tested his luck and started hiccuping instantly. More of a novelty than a worthy addition to the rotation.
Hmmm. Just the basics here: cayenne, water, and salt. The years have not been kind to this hot sauce which went from its original vibrant orange to an ominous dark brown.
This one comes with a (presumably tongue in cheek) warning not to attempt to actually light the fuse. The wax seal, while amusing, is surprisingly thick and difficult to cut through. It’s a combination of some 20 peppers and not unbearable in its heat level.
Unlike this one that is aptly termed “Beyond Insanity” because you’d have to be crazy to eat it. It’s habanero-based sauce but also includes “habanero-infused flavor”, whatever that means. Another one that has aged terribly, at least in its coloring.
Also habanero-based and while this one seemed to have prevailed over Father Time, the flavor seemed a bit…off.
Vidalia onions and peach! I am IN! To be honest, I haven’t had the heart to open this one yet simply because I don’t want to be disappointed if it’s turned and I’m unable to use it. Jeff, I’m waiting for you to get into town before I try it.
My new favorite hot sauce (now that I can no longer track down my former fave, Chalido Chile Trader’s Besos de Fuegos) is this little gem made right here in B.C. with locally-sourced honey and apples.
I’m love the island sauces.
And, of course, who can resist the sweet and spicy combo of Korean gochujang. I pick up mine up at my local farmer’s market.
And speaking of local, Oddball Organics makes a terrific line of sauces that combine two of my favorite things: heat and garlic. From left to right, their progressively hotter offerings go from Nasty Nectar to Nuclear Nectar to Tongue Twister.
Oh, and that nose-bleedingly hot hot sauce? It wasn’t that hot. And my nose was just fine.