Hot Sauce!
June 20, 2004 9:19 PM   Subscribe

Hot sauce reviews, a pepper primer, and ways to make your own.
posted by interrobang (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
if you've ever had Daves Ultimate Insanity Sauce, you probably with you hadn' least i did. That stuff will burn your ass down. I don't know what pepper spray is like, but i think if you spray some on some chips it would be about the same.
posted by bob sarabia at 9:44 PM on June 20, 2004

"wish you hadn't"...i dont have a lithp.
posted by bob sarabia at 10:06 PM on June 20, 2004

Perhaps you burned your tongue on it?
posted by interrobang at 10:07 PM on June 20, 2004

Allow me a quick rant: In no way do I wanna rain on the parade of those who enjoy a good hot-sauce, but I gotta tell ya: Your brethren pretty much killed off the BBQ rib fad, imho. It seems that the concepts of "spicy" and "hot" have become conflated. The fond memories I had of delicate and intricate blends of spices (formulated through years of trial-and-error) have largely faded in the face of a market saturated by lazy chefs who imagine that the ironic goal of rib-cooking is to make them inedible. Any fool can keep adding capsaicin until it's nearly impossible to eat; there's no trick to that. I miss the master backyard chefs who knew the difference.
posted by RavinDave at 11:07 PM on June 20, 2004

well, as far as i know, the "master backyard chefs" still concentrate on taste, not hotness. to say that the BBQ is dead is ABSOLUTELY ridiculous. maybe in nebraska they've completely ruined BBQ, but here in texas, it's an art as it should be.

adding capsaicin to sauce has NOTHING to do with BBQ. those "insane" sauces are something of a challenge, meant to see what you can stand. If you miss the master BBQ chefs you haven't been eating in the right places.

sorry if i sound like an asshole, but this is a big deal to a texan.
posted by bob sarabia at 11:49 PM on June 20, 2004

MMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!! As a lover of hot sauce who puts it on everything I eat and looking for some new spices in my life, great stuff!
posted by jmd82 at 12:14 AM on June 21, 2004

The "Hot" in hot sauce is measured in Scoville Units, and there is a Scoville Scale. I've been working through a bottle of Dave's Insanity Sauce for the last 3-4 months now. It's unbelievably hot when you first try it. But you quickly build up a tolerance, and after awhile you can eat things that send other people screaming for cold water, which doesn't really help. If you ever bite off more than you can chew, try drinking milk or eating ice cream.

Dave's Insanity Sauce is listed at 80,000 Scoville Units. It used to be the standard, boasting that it was the only sauce to ever be banned from the National Fiery Foods Show. There are plenty of hotter sauces these days, including Da Bomb, at 150,000 Scoville Units. I've tried this version a couple of times. It can cause strange dreams at night if you eat it a few hours before bedtime. Other versions of the bomb run as high as 1.5 million Scoville Units. Garden variety pepper spray is 2 million Scoville Units. Police issue pepper spray is listed at 5.3 million Scoville Units. One of the hottest hot sauces I've tasted is The Source, weighing in at a whopping 7.1 million Scoville Units, and goes for about $90 a bottle. The current world champion of hot sauce is Blair's 6 AM, which tops the scales at 16 million Scoville Units. $149 a bottle.

If you like not too hot but tangy and flavorful, in my opinion one of the best tasting hot sauces is Siracha Sauce, a Vietnamese delight.
posted by David Dark at 12:18 AM on June 21, 2004 [1 favorite]

Things I learned from Firegirl: FDA regulations say that if a sauce is over the heat level of a plain pepper, you can no longer call it a "hot sauce" but must refer to it as a "cooking additive". 357 Mad Dog is 357,000 scoville units, just under the legal limit to be called a sauce. And it tastes great!

I have found to be my best source for all things hot and spicy. Good selection and prices, sorted by heat level, by flavor, by dominant pepper, and all with accurate descriptions and reviews. Plus nifty stuff like creating your own private label hot sauce.
posted by JParker at 12:41 AM on June 21, 2004

I bought some 'Weapons of Ass Destruction' (I did Google for a link, but that search term also seems to apply to adult DVDs!) hot sauce whilst in New Orleans in April and I can safely say that it's the hottest hot sauce I've ever tasted. Hotter than Dave's Insanity Sauce and Hurtin Habenero. Well recommended, if you can find it outside of Nawlins.
posted by metaxa at 3:48 AM on June 21, 2004

My desert island hot sauces are teh Rooster nad Tapatio!
posted by roboto at 5:26 AM on June 21, 2004

It's funny how, despite the fact that new varieties of pepper sauce are more common than pollen, regular Tabasco is still the best one out there. And its guar-thickened imitator Texas Pete is great for soups.

"It registers at 31 Quadrillion Scoville units!" is the culinary equivalent of "But she's got a new hat!" Painful elimination is a high price to pay for proving your maschismo.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:40 AM on June 21, 2004

I love tabasco, until I moved offices I had about a dozen empties (restraunt size) on my filing cabinet that I had consumed over lunches.

Hotness isn't just about machismo Mayor Curley, the hotter peppers have a flavour that milder varieties don't have. Habanero for instance, while insanely hot also has a nice sort of smokey flavour. I have some dried and powdered habanero I made that's an excellent rub for ribs. If I go easy on the rub even my mom likes it.

If I make it for myself I do make it spicier and I do like the heat. On the other hand I don't like most of those firey hot spices. Too many of them are all heat and no flavour.
posted by substrate at 6:05 AM on June 21, 2004

the hotter peppers have a flavour that milder varieties don't have.

Oh, I agree. But the focus for some folks is how astronomically high some peppers register on the Scoville scale. Really hot with no flavor just makes something a challenge to eat. Really hot but complex is fine, but the emphasis should be on the taste of the product.

Funny story: I once fed a half-pound of habanero peppers into a Juiceman II in order to make my own sauce. I basically pepper sprayed myself badly as the atomized capsacin wafted into the air of my kitchen. But when I found the juice, vinegar and salt mixture in a bottle in the back of my cabinet two years later, it was fantastic. But it still wasn't worth it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:38 AM on June 21, 2004

I agree with David Dark and Roboto, Siracha Sauce (or Rooster Sauce to the cosnoscenti) is the single best way to bring the heat. You can overpower straight up or, when serving mixed company, you can add it to nearly anything to "brighten" the flavor without overpowering. Get some and try it . . . available at nearly all Asian groceries.
posted by ahimsakid at 7:32 AM on June 21, 2004

well, as far as i know, the "master backyard chefs" still concentrate on taste, not hotness. to say that the BBQ is dead is ABSOLUTELY ridiculous. maybe in nebraska they've completely ruined BBQ, but here in texas, it's an art as it should be.

Amen, brother.

I'll fifth or sixth the Rooster sauce. It took me a while to acquire a tolerance for it, but now I find it indispensible when I eat anything remotely Asian.

My favorite hot sauce experience was flying back from Central America and receiving little ketchup-style packets of Cholula with my inflight meal. I was downright giddy.

There's also a great little sauce from LA called Trappey's that tastes a lot like Buffalo Wing sauce, but without all the fat and whatnot. It's great as a marinade.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:05 AM on June 21, 2004

Ah, yeah, peppers can be dangerous.

My mom made me some canned peppers and ended up in the emergency room and with a prescription for an insanely expensive salve.

I've had a few run ins, one was with relatively mild tabasco sauce. It opened in my backpack and leaked into my wool gloves. The weather turned blizzardy and cold so I put on my mittens. I found out about the leaking tabasco when I touched my eyes.

A few months ago I was grinding up some freshly roasted habaneros. I was pretty careful but I forgot to wash my hands before I went to the washroom. I was in agony.
posted by substrate at 8:19 AM on June 21, 2004

I have a weakness for Harissa, a Tunisian wonder, really world-famous
posted by matteo at 8:21 AM on June 21, 2004

El Yucateco Red is my go-to sauce. And siracha is pretty nifty too.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:39 AM on June 21, 2004

There are chileheads and non-chileheads and the two sides will never see eye to eye.

And the idea that Tabasco, as good as it is for what it is, is the best of all possible sauces makes me giggle. (I will agree, however, that a great many of the sauces out there are more about marketing than flavor and are crap.)
posted by rushmc at 9:09 AM on June 21, 2004

The "Hot" in hot sauce is measured in Scoville Units

As was my last girlfriend. Sigh.

A couple of years ago, some of my friends and I used to say things like "totally scoville" when something was really, really awesome. We secretly hoped it would catch on.
posted by weston at 9:56 AM on June 21, 2004

Trappey's is orginally a Tabasco clone (grown with the same Tabasco Chiles from Louisiana's Avery Island). I prefer it over the original for its slightly less vinegary flavor. Both are great additives to homemade sauces or for use on scrambled eggs, but that's about all.

If you're looking for a good tasting, proper hot sauce, my stand-by is Melinda's Original HabaƱero Sauce (they make a bunch of great sauces).
posted by maniactown at 10:11 AM on June 21, 2004

I make a version of this that I serve for Thanksgiving. If you don't want to use Tobasco, any other variety will do. A nice Tobasco jelly on fresh roasted turkey is mmmmmmm good.
posted by majikwah at 10:18 AM on June 21, 2004

I disagree about Siracha. It isn't hot enough for my taste, so when I add more, it overpowers the delicate noodle soups that I use it on with its garlicky flavor. Instead, I prefer Lee Kum Kee Chili Garlic Sauce when used on Asian food.
posted by gyc at 10:37 AM on June 21, 2004

I must confess ... one of the funniest things I've ever seen was the reaction of a nice -- but cocky -- Mexican guy from my dorm floor (who habitually ridiculed tame US spices) as he tried to keep his composure when a couple Asian students cooked him a dinner with some serious Szechuan sauces.
posted by RavinDave at 11:01 AM on June 21, 2004

A couple of years ago, some of my friends and I used to say things like "totally scoville" when something was really, really awesome. We secretly hoped it would catch on.

hehe, thats good. i'm going to have to start saying that.
posted by bob sarabia at 11:29 AM on June 21, 2004

junglejims near Cincinnati has the most amazing selection of hot sauces ever. I mean I am sure there are better, but this one is big.

It has some in the hundreds of thousands of Scoville units that you need to sign a waiver for to purchase.

I adore hot sauces, like David Dark said, you tend to build up an immunity to them after a while and then you can really enjoy the different flavours in the sauces.

cool post :)
posted by dawna at 7:02 PM on June 21, 2004

Rating sauces by "hotness" is bullshit! It's about taste!

I'm sorry tabasco lovers, but traditional tabasco is only good for adding to orange juice. I must admit that the chipotle tabasco sauce is pretty good.

By far my favorite mass-produced sauce is good ol' Cholula, Made in Mexico and aged for a year in oak barrels. It has a distinct flavor unlike that watery tabasco "sauce." It's only shortcoming is that the largest container it comes in is 10oz, and costs $5-7.

For a good cheap sauce that you can use in bulk, go with Tapatio. It is like an unaged Cholula, so it doesn't have too much of a flavor, but you can buy a quart of it for $1.50.

Other than that, micro-brew sauces tend to be excellent, but they have this nasty habit of dissappearing of the face of the earth after a few batches.
posted by blasdelf at 8:14 PM on June 21, 2004

Great post, and speaking of flavor/heat combos, let's not forget New Mexican Green Chile. It's just an amazing chile. When the wife and I moved away years ago, we went through periods of deep depression mitigated only by care packages of frozen chile express mailed to us by her parents. Just reading this thread I started thinking about the chile rellenos at El Norte.

Okay, I can't get any more information out here, I'm about to weep into my drool.
posted by lumpenprole at 8:21 PM on June 21, 2004

blasdelf, I agree with you on all counts. Love the chipotle Tabasco, and use it often. My housemate is hooked on it, and she was not a fan of the hot sauce before. Regular Tabasco has an unpleasant flavor for me and its wateriness is pointless. I used to use Tapatio a few years ago, but recently discovered Cholula and found it much tastier. I enjoy the Sriracha, too. I had a housemate once that used to get something called "Religious Experience" hot sauce, made in Colorado, I think. It was super hot but had a wonderful flavor.
posted by doublehelix at 5:45 AM on June 22, 2004

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