Hot Sauce: A Love Story

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In the days when I was young and free, hair flying, skin taut, I went to America on a ‘road trip’ with the person I presently live and procreate with. We were there for three months and we put on a stone each. We would pick up colossal pizzas and a side order of cheese-filled breadsticks with marinara sauce to eat as a ‘starter’ in the car on the way back to the hotel. If you had looked in through that steamed up car window you would have seen two fat bastards smeared in marinara sauce, engaged in a grotesque orgy of pleasure.

We also developed an unreasonable addiction to Taco Bell. Mass produced tacos and burritos smothered in cheese and soured cream. The only question that needs asking about this is: why haven’t we got it here? We eat all the bin food the Americans care to throw at us yet not this, it’s a tragedy.

Anyway, in Taco Bell they had these little sachets of hot sauce that you could sprinkle onto your rubbery burrito. And so began a love story for me. I like hot sauces. Sometimes I stare at the bottles and feel a tearful gratitude towards the companies that make them. I am a hot sauce marketing manager’s wet dream. Here are some of my favourites…

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From left to right:

Sriracha Hot Chilli Sauce: Named after the coastal city of Si Racha in Thailand, it’s an amazingly versatile sauce because it is spicy, salty and sweet. I don’t know how I managed to live my life before I discovered it, I was just blundering around in the darkness. Fantastic with Thai food obviously, but great squeezed over any Chinese dishes, it really makes a stir fry. I sometimes just fry up a sachet of ready-cooked rice with soy sauce and squeeze Sriracha over it. It’s a beautiful Thai-style ketchup.

Linghams Chilli Sauce: A sweet sauce nice in stir fries and as a dip. Kids like this one.

Nando’s Peri Peri Hot: Obviously goes well with chicken. Griddle chicken, shove in a pitta or bun and cover in this. Save yourself the 350 quid they charge for one piece of chicken at a Nandos restaurant. Also lush swirled in mayonnaise as a dip and in a prawn sandwich.

Cholula Original: The nearest to my original Taco Bell inspiration. Goes well with tacos, burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, chilli. Or have it as a chaser with your cornflakes.

Encona Jamaican Hot Pepper Sauce: I stumbled across this last week. Just looking at the slim, tiny bottle made me feel weak at the knees. I have so far used it mixed with mayonnaise on top of a cheesy jacket potato.

Franks Red Hot Original and Wings (Buffalo): My current favourite, I have it on everything within reason. Great on burgers, chicken, falafels. Or soak a piece of bread in Franks then eat; the perfect hors d’oeuvre.

Tabasco Habanero: More of a mouth-searing devil syrup than a hot sauce. It could melt plastic. Great in chilli, with sausages and steak. The person I live with likes it in Bolognese, which is wrong in my opinion.

You can buy all of the above from the table sauces aisle in the bigger supermarkets. So if you are not running out the door with a tenner flapping in your hand right now, I can’t help you.

I know there are other hot sauces out there. I am on a quest to find and taste them all so any suggestions welcome. Please feed my addiction.

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