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Bottled Mexican hot sauces


ojisan
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Following Chris Hennes's wonderful tour of Rick Bayless's "Fiesta At Rick's" - under his "Camarónes a la Diabla" post, he notes:


  • "... though Bayless suggests Tamazula hot sauce, and I used Valentina. The hot sauce makes up a very large percentage of the final sauce, so choose... wisely".

Bayless also suggests Tamazula hot sauce for the shrimp/octopus cocktail as well.

I just bought a 34 oz. bottle of Valentina for 98¢ (on sale) at my local Mex market. Although they also carry Tamazula, it's only in a small size, which indicates that Valentina is much more popular. Both are made by the same company (Tamazula), and the ingredient lists are the same. Does anyone know what their difference is?

And while we're at it, how do the other popular hot sauces compare, such as Cholula and Tapatío?

Monterey Bay area

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By and large the difference between the various Mexican hot sauces I have (currently Valentina, Búfala, and Cholula) seems to be which chiles they feature. The spice levels are about the same, and the acidity is similar (though not identical), but the flavor of all three is pretty distinct.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I grew up on, and still can't live without, El Pato. Not the green one, the one in the yellow can. I've incorporated it into so many recipes by now I think it's wired into my genetic code.

It's very nice, not tomatoey or vinegary, got a good bite and some good flavor. You can get them as cheap at 50c (where on earth do you find the cents symbol on a normal keyboard?) at the grocery store.

Also, the bottled version seems to be way more acidic than the canned version - the canned is far superior to my mouth.

PastaMeshugana

"The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."

"What's hunger got to do with anything?" - My Father

My eG Food Blog (2011)

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By and large the difference between the various Mexican hot sauces I have (currently Valentina, Búfala, and Cholula) seems to be which chiles they feature. The spice levels are about the same, and the acidity is similar (though not identical), but the flavor of all three is pretty distinct.

That's my experience, too, Chris. Sometimes it works well to use a little of several sauces made from different chiles to produce a more complex sauce.

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Of all the straight red hot sauces mentioned here, I have only tried Cholula, which I try to keep in the house, and, long ago, Tapatío. What are the differences between that and the others?

We always have many bottles of Búfalo chipotle sauce (my wife's addiction) and 2-3 varieties of El Yucateco habañero sauce (my addiction) on hand. The Búfalo is quite thick, smoky, and meaty; the EY sauces go from fruity and bright to Blow Your Head Off.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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And although they're not Mexican, I think any hot sauce selection is not complete without a little Marie Sharp's.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got my first bottle of Valentina this week and had some with fried chicken tonight: it's excellent, rich, smoky, and much thicker and less acidic than I expected. Also tried Tapatío, which was good, too -- more spice, but less chile complexity. Both are better than Cholula, I think, which costs about five to ten times more around here, so...

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I recommend La Anita habanero sauce. Plenty of heat, no vinegar, not too salty, none of that wet dog smell which is the curse of habaneros.

For the vinegar-based sort I also like Valentina.

For the botanera type of salsas (such as Bufalo) I prefer the chamoy-based kind; regular ones don't taste good to me at all, no matter what chiles they claim to use. The worst is chipotle, probably because I make my own (which doubles as a bbq sauce) so I already have an idea of what a chipotle salsa can taste like, and the commercial stuff just doesn't measure up at all.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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I always keep valentina and el yucateco around. There are 4 varieties of el yucateco that I know...red, green, brown and carribean. They're all habanero based, and I keep the brown around all the time...it has great flavor and some smokiness. I picked up a bottle of the carribean at the fancy food show this year, and it's sweeter and fruitier than the normal varieties. It's good, but I don't think it will replace the brown for me!

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Wet dog? Come again?

You don't think habaneros smell like a wet dog?

It might be just me.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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The 'Valentina' hot sauces are made to sell at a low price point in large bottles. They are good but not exceptional.

Cholula has an interesting history, originally branded 'Viuda de Sanchez', the Sangrita proved so popular that the name and recipe for Sangrita was sold, hence the name change to Cholula. Made from a blend of piquin chiles, we purchase by the case of 1/2 gallons to reduce the cost. It's a very good hot sauce with a nice flavor.

The 'El Yuceteco' line is exceptional with pure habanero chiles and not adulterated with capsicum as the 'Killer' hot sauces are. I usually prefer the 'Caribbean' but the XXX is truly exceptional in heat and flavor. Although not Mexican, we used to use the 'Melindas' line of sauces but rarely purchase them anymore but they do a nice Habanero flavor and heat. Salsa Marisquera 7/Seas (Spanish translation) is very good and slanted toward sea food. The 'Buffalo' line is also good with the 'Chipolte' being very smoky and a pleasant change. There are many others and that is part of the enjoyment searching for the best sauce.

I avoid the 'Boutique' hot sauces because they are invariably uninteresting and made to sell to a certain market segment at a high price point.-Dick

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Wet dog? Come again?

You don't think habaneros smell like a wet dog?

It might be just me.

I have a coonhound, and I'm very thankful that nothing else on earth smells like him wet. :wink: However, that's a component I've never picked up in habañeros even for less, shall we say, odorous canines.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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On the habanero "wet dog" issue- my take is that the fresh habaneros definitely have a completely different smell when raw similar to some of the issues people have with green bell peppers as we discussed here. I like the fruity note and the different type of heat and did grow them successfully this year.

I rarely use the bottled sauces in cooking and consider them a table condiment. As to Mexican I keep Pico Pica in the fridge and recently picked up the hot green El Yuceteco which I am enjoying. Tapatio was a standard on the tables at little taco shops here, but I have noticed a trend to having one or two non standard ones on the tables these days. On the non-Mexican front I am with Jaymes on the Marie Sharpe and in the back of the cupboard the original Tabasco has its permanent spot.

With most of these at a dollar or two for a small bottle it is inexpensive fun.

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  • 1 month later...

We prefer the line of Salsas Cosecha Purépecha, made in Chilchota, Michoacán. Of the several varieties, our favorites are the Chile de Árbol, the chipotle, and the Habanero Rojo.

In the last several years, they have apparently increased production in order to expand their distribution to more retail outlets. We have noticed some slight slippage of quality, yet they are still ahead of the pack.

Valentina is the most common bottled salsa here in Michoacán, Mexico (and everywhere else we've been in central and northern Mexico.) It's fine for micheladas and on papitas ("artisanal" potato chips.

Buen provecho, Panosmex
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Used to be a fan of Cholula, but I’ve grown out of it. It’s a great accompaniment for eggs, but little else. I have found most Mexican cuisine overpowers the flavor of Cholula, making it rather pointless to use.

Currently, I’ve got bottles of Tapatío, which I find a bit thin, but still flavorful and a good “generic” Mexican hot sauce that matches with most dishes, Bufalo Chipotle, which is thick, quite smoky, and with a good kick of heat, and the unnaturally green version of El Yucateco.

And while I know this one isn’t Mexican and probably isn’t found anywhere in Mexico, I do have a fondness for JCS scotch bonnet sauce with picadillo and Yucatan dishes.

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My neighbors brought me back two hot sauces from their last trip to Mexico.

One is Tamazula Extra-Hot and it is and it is very flavorful, not just hot. Recently I mixed a few drops into my cream cheese/sour cream/horseradish sauce for braised ribs (no barbecue flavor) and it was terrific.

The other is Salsa de Chile Chiltepin, made by Chilteca and is quite hot but also has nice flavor, more complex than many hot sauces.

I looked them up and they are both available from MexGrocer.com

I've tried another Chiltepin sauce but wasn't impressed and tossed it.

I have all of the Yucateco habanero sauces (my local Mexican supermarket carries them) but the one I use most is the Mayanik Orange Habanero hot sauce. It has an incredible flavor and is absolutely perfect on pork.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I agree completely. Marie Sharp's is probably my favorite hot sauce.

And although they're not Mexican, I think any hot sauce selection is not complete without a little Marie Sharp's.

 ... Shel


 

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Throughout a lot of Mexico it is either Valentina or Valentina Etiqueta Negra, which is the hotter of the two. This is de rigeur at the market stalls, with the street vendors, and, best of all, the street-side potato-chip makers.

Usually, if I want smokey, I'll toast up and soak a couple of chipotles or pasillas de Oaxaca, soak them, and puree them with some of the Valentina. It is very low vinegar, so you can adjust the sour level to your tastes.

Regards,

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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ah, hot sauces! One entire shelf in my fridge door is full and there are a couple more here and there. We love the whole line of Cholula, they have a couple different flavors now. My boy loves them all, makes intricate mixes with them, not bad for a 7 year old! I also love Frank's and especially Tiger Sauce, of course the asian Sriracha or how it's spelled. The only one I never use and just keep around for fun is Dave's Insanity Sauce. That's really just a gag, as it's so extremely spicy that it's unusable IMO. Maybe if you have some old meat of questionable quality (I'm sure this sauce kills any bug it comes even close to!), but other than that, it's really more of a gag than anything. I've had it for years now, and used exactly one drop. The one I put on my finger seconds before breaking out in sweat and uncontrollable laughter with tears running down my face. Fun times~~~ :shock:

It's quite interesting that there are so many of these sauces out there, and many of them actually have a distinct flavor. Not just HOT, but recognizable. Considering that there's not that much variety in what's in them, I find that surprising in a way.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

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