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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Heat + Flavor WIN

One of the biggest challenges in hot sauce making is the delicate balance between heat and flavor. Most high-end sauces made of extracts taste like sh*t, and most great tasting sauces are weak as hell. The main reason it is so challenging is that historically, the only way to really push hot sauce over the 100k scoville barrier was to use pepper extract. Extract invariably tastes awful, and so there was a direct correlation between scovilles and gross.

Heat at the expense of Flavor:
The first 7 figure hot sauce I ever had was called "The Cool Million". It was housed in a metal circular case, and the actual sauce was enclosed in an eye dropper. Suffice to say that this "sauce" was actually just pure pepper extract, and could not have been worse. (in hindsight, I should have been tipped off when I saw that the co that manufactured it was called Poison Pepper Inc.) The sauce tasted like oily scum that quickly ignites your mouth on fire. Your mouth then goes numb, you are rendered incapable of speech, and when the pain and misery is finally over; all you are left with is a grim tasting oily residue.

(the only thing this was good for was hazing pledges.... hi Thad!)

Flavor at the expense of Heat:
When I was in high-school, I asked my mom for hot sauce for Xmas. In her normal vein of going all out for her favorite child (Sorry BAMW, but it's true! Remember when I asked for a weapons and she bought me "Lot O' Knives" which came with around 40+ daggers?), she purchased a Blair's variety pack with 9 different Death sauces. (side-note: I would highly recommend this for anyone trying to build up their hot sauce inventory. It is available here) Anyway, the pack is below. The second one in, Sweet Death, is without a doubt, hands-down, the best tasting sauce on the planet. But the only problem is.... It is just a sauce; not a HOT-sauce and it probably registers a big fat 0.0 on the scoville scale. It makes black pepper seem insane. So awesome taste, but no heat whatsoever.

(A habanero sauce with a vinegar base, contains sweet tropical ingredients such as honey, mango, passion fruit, and sugarcane.)

So you ask, what is the solution to this age old problem? Hot Pepper cultivation and evolution my friends! We now have hot peppers that are coming in significant hotter than the traditional big dog, the generic habanero (100-300k).  (note to get a 100k sauce like say the one that started it all, Dave's Original Insanity you were forced to use extract... ingredients: Tomato sauce, onions, hot pepper extract, hot peppers, vinegar, spices, soy oil, garlic and salt) These new and powerful peppers allow you to up the total heat without having to resort to the brutal pepper extract that overpowers and destroys the flavor.

So without further adieu, I now offer you my current favorite sauces: Heartbreaking Dawn!

They are made with three of the newer/hotter entrants to the hot sauce domain ranging from 425k (Chocolate Habanero) to 1mm (Ghost Pepper) to the current world record holder, the fearsome 1.46mm (Trinidad Scorpion).

From left to right, they are:

Chocolate Habanero: Chocolate habanero peppers, cider vinegar, carrot concentrate, water, onion, brown sugar, garlic, sea salt, cumin

Ghost Pepper: Pears, applesauce, cider vinegar, ghost peppers, water, onion, carrot, lime juice, sugar, sea salt, garlic, white pepper

Trinidad Scorpion:Trinidad Scorpion Peppers, Scotch Bonnet Peppers, Cider Vinegar, Apricot Preserves, Water, Blueberries, Carrots, Honey, Onion, Soy Sauce, Sea Salt, Garlic, Ginger, White Pepper

I could not recommend these sauces more. I make the below plate of Stoned Wheat-thin nachos on a daily basis now that I am a vegetarian and constantly starving every-time I get home from work. They aren't actually painfully hot (probably 40k, 50k, 70k respectively), but the flavor is second to none at that range on the scoville scale. Enjoy!

(1am dinner last night post an eventful underwater adventure at the Aquarium)