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The five essential hot sauces


Fat Guy
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I just noticed tonight that I'm almost out of hot sauce. A few years ago, I probably had 20 bottles, mostly acquired in various Caribbean countries while on vacations, back when I could afford such vacations. Now I think I have about a quarter of one bottle.

So, it's time to replenish the hot sauce collection. Ideally, I'd like to go to one website, probably http://peppers.com/ and just order five bottles. I don't want four or six bottles. I want five different bottles that will serve a variety of uses.

So, who can propose the list of five, with extensive annotation?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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1. Tabasco (or similar) sauce: perfect with oysters, some soups or just as a simple condiment.

2. Harissa, great in stewed dishes such as couscous and makes a great dipping sauce when mixed with water (or wine).

3. Any of the great South-East Asian hot sauce (you have the choice here): for, you guessed it, south-east asian dishes.

4. Chinese chili oil, for the kind of heat only oil can give... great to drizle

5. One of the many mexican smoky hot pepper sauces (e.g. chipotle in adobo) for meat or whatever you fancy that day.

I would also add a last one: a simple Hunanese crushed chili sauce (more like minced hot peppers) because it is just great!

Oh Oh! another one: korean hot bean paste! For an easy bibimbap lunch!

Does mustrad count? What about horseradish and wasabi?

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siracha

something cheap like trappey's pete's or red devil or crystal

one habanero or scotch bonnet

one garlic chile oil (as majictofu said)

one hot green salsa.

these are what get me by.

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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siracha

tabasco (i like the chipotle one)

crystal (cuz you can't get too much nola on your shelf these days)

cholula

you can pick your own fifth...i'm good with those, although i'd also want a batch of pureed chipotles in adobo in my freezer.

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Great suggestions above! My own 5 (for the moment, anyhow!):

* Tabasco (perhaps the perfect vinegar-and-pepper sauce?);

* Marie Sharp's Firey Hot Sauce (my favorite hot sauce ever, period-- beyond addictive);

* Dave's Insanity Sauce (heat);

* Siracha (essential deliciousness);

* Pickapeppa (no, not hot... but good);

Honorable mention to Tabasco Chipotle, Susie's Hot Sauce, the garlic-and-chile past you get in big jars (can't remember the name right now-- but it's great stuff :>), and to non-bottled things like homemade Nuc Cham, habanero sauce, handmade curry, paprika and drippings, etc..

_ Jesse Williamson ;-};

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Chris Schlessinger (Thrill of the Grill and East Coast Grill fame) recommended:

EL YUCATECO SALSA PICANTE (Mexico) --I have used them for years both the red and the green. The sauces have loads of heat (Habanero) and great flavor.

One is brighter (green habaneros) with cilantro and the other has darker (red habanero) notes.

I also took Ming Tsai's advice and tried SAMBAL OLEK. It has also become indispensable for me. I often mix in other condiments (soy sauce or honey,etc to make various more complex sauces). It is a very Indonesian (I believe) chili garlic sauce very thick and has a lot of heat and also a slightly sweet note. I get it at one of the many Korean markets in my neighborhood. I also always keep a bottle of Chinese chili oil around.

I also always have another Mexican sauce which is a chipotle based very smokey and dark sauce with a Bufalo on the label for whan I want heat and smoke.

Finally, the always amazing standard:TOBASCO which provides a nice sour fermented note to the heat.

Those are my five/six staples.

I always rotate in two or three others just to keep on top of the hot sauce scene. I am usually bored by the sauces that use "ass" or "insane" on the labels. These are usually mostly heat and nothing else. They have little "personality."

Edited by JohnL (log)
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Unless you do a lot of spicy cooking, I'm not sure you even need five hot sauces. I like to have around:

1. A "Louisiana-style" cayenne-based hot sauce such as Red Devil Cayenne Pepper Sauce, Crystal Hot Sauce, Louisiana Hot Sauce or Texas Pete Hot Sauce. I like these better than Tabasco sauce, which I feel has too much bite and not enough flavor. These sauces have some heat, but not so much that you can't use them in fairly large amounts in something like jambalaya. This is my all-purpose hot sauce that I use on everything from eggs to rice and beans.

2. Sriracha. This is another incredibly versatile hot sauce. It's got enough of an "Asian" flavor that it works well in the few contexts where a Louisiana-style hot sauce wouldn't work, and yet you won't ruin a cheddar cheese omelette with a few squirts of sriracha. Huy Fong seems to be the brand you want.

I actually think you could do perfectly well with just those two hot sauces. Adding others is going to depend on what kind of food you like to eat. I'll tell you what I have...

3. Hot pickled peppers in vinegar. This is just a dasher bottle filled with whole little chili peppers (usually green, although I have seen red). Goya makes a perfectly good version. These are absolutely ubiquitous in the South, but seem less so up here in the Northeast. I can hardly imagine eating greens without a few dashes of hot vinegar. These also last forever: when the vinegar gets low, just top up the bottle with additional vinegar. The bottle only needs to be replaced when the vinegar starts losing its zip.

4. Sambal oelek or chili garlic (sambal oelek with garlic, as far as I can tell). Again, Huy Fong seems to be the brand. This is nice to have if, like me, you like to use a slightly vinegarey, garlicey Asian-style crushed chili sauce on things like delivery dumplings, or to "zing up" leftover Chinese food. I'll stipulate, however, that this doesn't seem to be the kind of "dasher bottle" liquid hot sauce you're after.

5. El Yucateco salsa picante de chile habanero, the green one. Very spicy with that special flavor only habanero chilis bring. I prefer the "fresh" and "bright" flavors of the green version, but the red version is good as well.

5. If you don't consider sambal oelek to be the class of hot sauce you're seeking in this thread, then I'd add a chipotle hot sauce for the smoke flavor.

I also like to have broad bean chili paste, gochujang, chipotles in adobo and homemade hot chili oil around the house. None of these is a liquid bottled hot sauce, however.

--

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Sriracha

Matouk's Original

Tabasco-original

Marie Sharps-original

Bello from Dominica

There are of course dozens of others mostly boutique producst but those are the Big 5

Wow - great minds think alike (or almost alike). My list has three of those five - Marie Sharps (the original NOT the "fiery hot"), Matouk's original and Sriracha.

I'm inclined to replace Tabasco with Crystal or Texas Pete's and I am, regrettably, not familiar with Bello. But I think my fifth would be Marie Sharpe's Hot Green Habanero Pepper Sauce. The prickly pear and Key Lime juice lend it a complexity of flavor I rarely encounter in other sauces (except Matouk's but they are very unlike one another).

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Two questions on the above lists:

1 - The Huy Fong Sriracha and other products seem to get widespread endorsement here, however in Asian restaurants and markets several people have told me that they're the lowest rung on the ladder for these types of sauces. Is that incorrect, or is there another brand of Sriracha that's better?

2 - There seems to be some disagreement about the virtues of Tabasco. I think Tabasco has a unique flavor, and wouldn't necessarily consider, for example, Texas Pete to be a substitute. Am I hopelessly uneducated, or is Tabasco more in its own category?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Amazon Hot Green Sauce - Tangy.

Dave's Gourmet Total Insanity Hot Sauce - Not their hottest, but hot enough to go a long way in cooking. The label says, "Not for people with heart/respiratory problems." Believe it. Trust me.

Marie Sharp's Hot Habañero Pepper Sauce

Tabasco Red Pepper Sauce - Original Flavor - Ya gotta love what ya were raised on.

Túóng Ót Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce - Garlicky. They should put this out in pizza parlors.

-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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My top 5, which I always have around:

Original Tabasco

Jalapeno Tabasco

Sriracha

Grace Habanero (Carribean habanero sauce - good stuff)

Scorned Woman (Good black pepper flavor with the rest of the heat)

These are all pretty basic sauces, and they don't overflavor whatever they are added to. More ingredients do not make it better. These formulations play well with most food. This is pure pepper flavor with a bit of acidity, but it's controllable.

And no, Texas Pete and the like are not a substitute for Tabasco. There is a difference, though I prefer the Tabasco flavor over the cayenne. Besides, ground cayenne is easy to find.

Though not technically hot sauces, I would also include Chinese mustard, wasabi, and prepared horseradish. I usually also have some Dave's Insanity for my friends who think they know what they are talking about. The Grace Habanero is much better IMO.

ETA - I also don't include the whole pickled peppers in vinegar, as I think that's more of a flavored vinegar than a hot sauce. Still might handy to have around. Try that with some sauteed mushrooms.

Edited by FistFullaRoux (log)
Screw it. It's a Butterball.
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1 - The Huy Fong Sriracha and other products seem to get widespread endorsement here, however in Asian restaurants and markets several people have told me that they're the lowest rung on the ladder for these types of sauces. Is that incorrect, or is there another brand of Sriracha that's better?

According to Wikipedia, sriracha isn't a codified condiment, but rather the name of a town (Si Racha) that made a sauce that's somewhat similar. I've always been given to understand that sriracha as we know it in America was formulated and popularized by Huy Fung, which is to say that Huy Fung sriracha is sriracha in the States (much like Heinz sets the standard for ketchup). In Thailand I think there is a fair amount of variation in what can be considered "sriracha" and Huy Fung's version may not even be considered a particularly typical sriracha sauce. But I don't think it's the case that there is a "better" version of sriracha as we know it. Anyone would recommend a "better" sriracha is also probably recommending something that's quite different. Also, I have to wonder whether there may be some bias against Huy Fong products among certain demographics due to the fact that it's made in California.

2 - There seems to be some disagreement about the virtues of Tabasco. I think Tabasco has a unique flavor, and wouldn't necessarily consider, for example, Texas Pete to be a substitute. Am I hopelessly uneducated, or is Tabasco more in its own category?

I'd say that Tabasco is its own category. There may be other sauces that attempt to duplicate Tabasco, but why use them when you can get the real thing? Now, that said, Tabasco and, e.g., Texas Pete are very often used for the same things. For example, a few dashes of hot sauce on some rice and beans or scrambled eggs. In that case, one is choosing between different classes of hot sauce (albeit fairly closely related in the grand scheme of things). Personally, I prefer the Louisiana-style cayenne sauces. I also don't think it's necessary to have both kinds if you're limiting yourself to a total of only five.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

--

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My top five include three of the most often mentioned here:

1. Tabasco, the original recipe - Love it! I don't think I've had eggs without at least adding a couple of drops on them for twenty years.

2. Crystal/Texas Pete/Franks' Hot Sauce - Basic go to sauce for greens, fried chicken, fried fish, beans--especially pinto beans--and to add to homemade bbq sauce.

3. Sriracha - The most well-rounded hot sauce: sweet, hot, salty, sour/vinegary.

4. Lizano Chilero - A great hot sauce a friend and former colleague brought back from Costa Rica. Medium heat, vinegary, with a mild natural sweetness, and a lingering pepperiness. I'm clinging to the last few drops of this one. I did find a source online for it here.

5. Peruvian Aji Sauce - This is the sauce (salsa?) accompaniment to the delicious Peruvian rotisserie chicken sold at a variety of places in Northern Virginia. It's a green, spicy, not smooth textured but not too chunky sauce. I like to ask for a couple of extra ones to have on hand. I've found several recipes for it online similar to this one:

1/4 head of lettuce, torn into pieces (iceberg is fine, romaine is better), 3 jalapeno chiles, seeds and veins removed, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 5 green onions, 1/2 bunch of cilantro leaves (try to avoid the stems), 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder. Put all ingredients into a blender or food processor and process until smooth. It should come out bright green in color.

From the taste of it, I would have sworn that it had lime juice, and maybe a little vinegar and it just doesn't seem to have any noticeable mayo. My understanding is that aji chiles are used for the real thing but I assume jalapeño is suggested as it is more readily available. Never would have guessed it contained lettuce, but it totally makes sense. I'm definitely going to give a try at making it myself. I'd appreciate anyone who can suggest a more authentic version.

Edited for additional comments/clarification.

Edited by divalasvegas (log)

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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I wouldn't put any of Dave's Insanity Sauces on your list. Sure, they're insanely hot, but they do little to add flavor to your food.

How about something like Pickapeppa Sauce? Mild heat, but with some nice Jamaican overtones. I find it almost steak sauce-ish.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

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I wouldn't put any of Dave's Insanity Sauces on your list. Sure, they're insanely hot, but they do little to add flavor to your food.

I'd disagree somewhat; the original Dave's Insanity does a wonderful job of adding a burnt hair (also often called burnt cat) flavor to food. :smile:

--

And to FG: Huy Fong is the original and best. Dunno why NY restos would be down on it, unless they're trying to justify buying one of the many inferior imitations (and playing to the ignorance of the customer). Not only is it often imitated, it's even been counterfeited! (Thread from a few years ago lurks somewhere in the depths of eG).

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I'm athinking, but I'm only at 3. Guess I gots to/gets to go shopping! :wink:

Sriracha - all purpose heat

Tobasco original - its just the right one for dousing bacon. End of story.

Lousiana hot sauce or Franks, or similar - critical "wings" component

I think a smokysweet hot sauce might be nice to have around the house.

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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My choices in no particular order

Tabasco original

Chipotle Tabasco (I would be drinking this stuff if it wasn't so hard to find in Japan)

Sriracha

Kochujang

My choice for a 5th would depend on what kind of flavor you are looking for/cook the most. I would probably go with yuzu koshou (a Japanese paste like product that is a combination of green chiles and the yuzu citrus rind), but harissa and sambal olek get a lot of use in my house as well.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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I wouldn't put any of Dave's Insanity Sauces on your list. Sure, they're insanely hot, but they do little to add flavor to your food.

.....

Sometimes, all I want to add to the pot is a little heat.

-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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Siricha, it's that popular for a reason! My favorite all purpose.

Frank's, the only sauce worth making buffalo wings with. Also fantastic with southern foods, beans and rice, nice and vinegary.

Cholula, another favorite with beans, Mexican, bbq

a good Jamaican scotch bonnet sauce, something hot-hot, I like to add a few drops of this, when my basic stuff won't quite cut it, like to barbecue sauces, chili, and as a little extra heat to wings, and stuff.

Thai garlic chile paste This is my ketchup, I spread it on everything, sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs.

Cheapy random sauce I like a lot of these, all flavors, the 99 cent kind. I've tried Buffalo brand, El Yucateco, Crystal, Goya any one of those is damn good, all different, all have flavor along with varying levels of heat. I guess call this entry the Wild Card.

Tobasco doesn't make my list, I'm not big of that aged flavor, I find it overpowering, but the green or chipotle Tobascos should get some kind of honorable mention for uniqueness.

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