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Content accurate at time of publication
01 Feb 2012
GREG COOK blazes a trail to explore the world’s favourite hot sauces, and discovers that when it comes to raw heat, the chilli still reigns supreme.
The hot pepper paste from Korea is made with powdered red chilli, rice powder and soya beans, and left to ferment for years in large earthenware jars, a preparation method that dates back to the 16th century. A region well known for its hot sauce is Sunchang Gochujang Village, which holds a Gochujang festival in early November each year.
Made from brown and white mustard seeds, and ground into a fine powder and blended with turmeric, English mustard has a far stronger flavour than its French and German cousins. It’s often eaten with roast beef or used as a spread in sandwiches. In England, Colman’s Mustard is king; there’s even a Colman’s Mustard Shop & Museum in Norfolk.
Named after Sri Racha, the Thai coastal town of its origin, Sriracha is a classic blend of Thai red chilli, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. Commonly paired with seafood, the tangy sauce has inspired a popular US-made version sold under the generic name Sriracha.
From the same plant family as mustard, wasabi is named after the Japanese horseradish. Like mustard, its heat hits the nasal passages rather than the palate. Served as a paste or grated, it’s a hit with sushi lovers. Daio Wasabi Farm in Nagano even has tours which include tastings of wasabi ice cream among other wasabi themed delights.
This fiery red paste that originated in Tunisia has been used for centuries as both an ingredient and a condiment in North African and Middle Eastern cuisine. Pasted garlic and blended spices like cumin, coriander and caraway seeds add depth of flavour, while piri piri chilli and serrano peppers provide a kick.
Known for adding a kick to a Bloody Mary, Tabasco was created in the 1860s on Avery Island in Louisiana, USA – you can even visit the factory where the sauce is still made. It derives its heat from tabasco peppers, which are aged with vinegar and salt in white oak barrels for three years. It goes great with pizza, pasta and raw oysters.
A lethal concoction by hot sauce creator Blair Lazar (extremefood.com), Blair’s 16 Million Reserve – which is currently out of stock – contains pure capsaicin (the ingredient that makes chillies hot). The 16 million in its name refers to its measurement on the Scoville Scale, used to rate the hotness of chilli. It’s so hot you’re advised to don eye protection, gloves and tweezers when handling it! In comparison, Original Tabasco Sauce is just 2,500-5,000 units.
PHOTOS ALECIA NEO ART DIRECTION FISH CHAN