When it comes to hot sauce there may be no such thing as “too hot.” Those who love the spicy flavor of these sauces made with chili peppers use them on everything from eggs to enchiladas and on everything in between. Although for many Americans “hot sauce” is synonymous with Tabasco sauce, there are actually a wide variety of hot sauces available that range from hot to almost flammable.
Let’s take a look at some fun facts about hot sauce.
- The first commercially available hot sauce similar to the ones we use today was introduced in 1807.
- Tabasco Sauce is the oldest surviving brand. It was first introduced in 1868 and remains one of the best selling condiments in the country.
- The use of chili peppers is what makes a sauce a hot sauce. Regardless of how hot or not a sauce is, it has to be made from chili peppers in order to be considered a hot sauce.
- While the most common ingredients of hot sauce are chili peppers, vinegar, and salt, sauces can also include fruit, other vegetables, and a wide range of different ingredients.
- The type of chili pepper used is often key to how hot the sauce is; the hotter the pepper, the hotter the sauce.
- Other ingredients, like pure capsaicin extract and mustard oil are also used to increase the heat of some hot sauces.
- There is significant regional variation in the type ingredients used to make hot sauce and in how hot is hot enough.
- In the Caribbean, the most commonly used peppers for making hot sauces are habañero and Scotch Bonnet which makes for some very hot sauce.
- In Africa, the favored hot sauce can vary by country. Harissa is an example from Tunisia that is made from a base of red birdseye chili peppers and seasoned with cumin and coriander.
- Hot sauce in Chinese cuisine is more commonly called chili sauce and is more likely to be a thick paste than a thin sauce. Chinese hot sauce also differs from other regions sauces because many varieties involve brine solutions or pickling as part of the cooking process.
- Different Chinese dishes use different types of chili sauce. Chili oil, which is made from dried chilies and steeped in oil, is one example. Guilin chili sauce, which is made with fermented soybeans, is another.
- In Thailand, many dishes incorporate raw chilies rather than hot sauce but hot sauce made from chilies is still a popular condiment. Sriracha sauce, which has gained popularity in American cuisine, is from Thailand.
- Hot sauce in Thailand may also be found as a dipping sauce and Thai sweet chili sauce is popular around the world.
- The United Kingdom is home to two of the hottest peppers in the world, the Naga Viper and the Infinity chili which means it is also home to two of the most naturally hot sauces in the world.
- In Mexico, hot sauce is often made from chipotle peppers. Unlike other places where the heat seems to be the most important aspect, Mexican sauces focus more on the flavor of the chili pepper.
- American hot sauces most commonly use cayenne, chipotle, habañero, and jalapeño peppers as the base and source of heat. There are several regional varieties including Louisiana-style like Tabasco sauce which uses red chili peppers and vinegar and New Mexico-style which uses red or green chili peppers and a roux at the base and is made without vinegar.