Hot Sauce

Warning: Do not consume this by sticking a large spoon in it, wondering if it’s spicy, and choosing to swallow.

I am addicted to hot sauce. In an “I can’t get enough, I don’t care if this burns a whole in my stomach” kind of way.

My daily cravings are to the point now that I can no longer eat certain foods without it. Namely, pizza, eggs, and anything that has a remote association with a burrito- including their little sister taco and their cousin nacho(s).

In my beginning stages as a hot sauce consumer, I had little understanding of spending hot sauce wisely. Just wildly shaking the liquid over food- no matter the brand, type, or ratio of sauce-to-substance-was my preferred method. But as my spicy palette developed, I realized that there was an art to the hot sauce shake- and to which brands worked best where.

And because I hope that you too will join me in loving hot sauce, I have compiled a list of my top 5 favorite hot sauces and their perfect mates.

1. Tacos, burritos, nachos, enchiladas, salsa- Tabasco Green Jalepeno

2. Eggs: scrambled, deviled, fried- Cholula or Cholula Chili Garlic

3. Pizza or gumbo- Frank’s Red Hot original

4. Added to Salsa- Tropical hot sauces with a floral undertone (Miss Hattie’s Red Hot Sauce) or Tabasco Chipotle

5. Thai spicy noodles, fried rice, black beans, soups- Sriracha (Also known as “Rooster Sauce”)

Extra tip: Please combine Sriracha with mayonnaise and dip french fries in it. You will not regret it.

This brings me to what can only be described as an epiphany in my hot sauce journey. In a recent issue of my favorite foodie magazine, I came across a recipe for homemade hot sauce. “WHAT!” (me almost jumping out of my chair). “I CANT MAKE THIS AT HOME?!!”””

Why this thought never struck me probably had something to do with the fact that whenever I eat something delicious covered in hot sauce I tend to loose track of space and time.

So I meandered down to the farmer’s market, picked up some green peppers that a very nice farmer selling them told me were “perrty spici” and went to work. I wish I could remember the names of these peppers, because they were delicious and  original and had a powerful bite- but like any good writer, I made a note in my mind to write down the name of them when I got home and promptly forgot.

When in doubt, seed-it-out. (This helps down-scale the spiciness.)

I followed the recipe exactly (Well, sort-of. Do you own a fine-mesh sieve? Who owns a fine-mesh sieve? What even is a fine-mesh sieve?) I let the peppers spend a day fermenting in a Ball jar. Then I added vinegar and let them marinate in the jar some more. Six days later, voila! My own hot sauce! Well, it actually turned out more like pureed hot pepper sauce. Because I do not own the previously mentioned fine-mesh sieve, seeds and larger bits stayed in my jar. I think they added character.

You know what?  Maybe it was the week-long effort clouding my vision, but mine tasted pretty good: spicy and acidic, with a sweet kick towards the finish. It wasn’t nearly as good as Cholula, Sriracha, or Frank’s, and not quite as green as the sauce picture I saw in the article.

But would I do try making it again? Maybe. And next time I would remember the name of the peppers.

WHAT YOU NEED

  • 1 pound stemmed fresh chiles (such as jalapeño, serrano, Fresno, or habanero; use one variety or mix and match)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar

WHAT YOU DO

  • Pulse chiles and kosher salt in a food processor until a coarse purée forms. Transfer to a 1-qt. glass jar, loosely screw on lid, and let stand at room temperature for 12 hours to ferment slightly.
  • Stir in vinegar and loosely screw on lid. Let chile mixture stand at room temperature for at least 1 day and up to 7 days. (Taste it daily; the longer it sits, the deeper the flavor becomes. I believe I let mine sit for six days.)

Purée mixture in a food processor or blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Place a fine-mesh sieve inside a funnel. Strain mixture through sieve into a clean glass bottle. (Hot sauce will become thinner and may separate after you strain it; shake vigorously before each use.) DO AHEAD: Can be made up to 4 months ahead. Keep refrigerated.

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