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Around the World in 9 Hot Sauces

Around the World in 9 Hot Sauces

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When most people think of hot sauce, they think spiciness. Here are 9 of them.

Click here for 9 hot sauces around the world

To find these hot sauces, we zeroed in on various cuisines from around the world, making sure each continent was duly represented. Unfortunately, Australia did not make the cut, because there is no one hot sauce that seems ubiquitous in the cuisines of Australia or New Zealand. At times, it is difficult to match a hot sauce with a country, because the world’s diasporic populations have introduced spicy sauces from their native cuisine to various national cuisines. For example, while piri piri sauce originated in Portugal, it is so popular in various African countries that we cannot fairly call piri piri a Portuguese condiment. These aren’t the world’s spiciest hot sauces, but they do rank pretty highly on the Scoville scale, the measurement of the pungency of chile peppers devised by American pharmacist Wilbur Scoville.

Some of the sauces on this list are specific brands, as opposed to hot sauce recipes that are not patented. We chose them because their levels of popularity are so high that almost everybody in their respective countries knows them by name. There are other hot sauces in this list whose exact origins are unknown, as the chiles that they consist of have been in their cuisine for hundreds of years. One particular condiment is the perfect example of the globalization of hot sauce: It is named after cognac — though it has no cognac in it — because its association with the liquor makes it sound more classy and Western. You’ll just have to keep reading to find out what that sauce is.

There are so many hot sauces in the world, and each with its own character. You can even find out which one matches your astrological sign. Whether you love or hate spicy food, take a look at how the world enjoys this fiery condiment.

Aji Amarillo Paste (Peru)

The bright orange aji amarillo pepper (and its pastes, sauces, and powders) have been a part of Peruvian cuisine since the Incan Empire. It translates to “yellow chile” because, when cooked, that’s the color it becomes. It is distinctive for its fruity taste, which comes through despite its strong punch of spice. Combined with cilantro and onion, this chile makes one of the most ubiquitous flavor combinations in Peruvian cuisine.

Erős Pista (Hungary)

This branded sauce from Hungary, which translates to “Strong Steve,” is composed of a simple combination of paprika and salt. According to travel guide writer Rick Steves, Hungarians usually cook with sweet paprika, but keep hot paprika on the table, so each diner can customize the spiciness of a dish to his or her taste. Erős Pista is an even spicier version of your standard table paprika. According to Steves, “It is best used sparingly.”

9 fiery hot sauces we love from around the world — from spicy to @#$%!

Looking to turn up the heat in the kitchen? Try one of these for a little kick (or a giant wallop).

Jacob Rutka Updated June 28, 2017

When it comes to hot sauces, standbys like Frank’s and Tabasco often get a bad rap for masking food with palate-overloading spicy, salty and sour flavours. And while both sauces are old by North American standards (dating to the last half of the 19th century), they’re relatively new to the game.

Dating back 6,000 years, culinary pioneers from indigenous civilizations in Mexico and Central and South America first used chili peppers to add heat and flavour to their food.

Nowadays, there are thousands of varieties of chilies in existence — from the relatively benign to the palate-destroying. There’s even a dedicated system for measuring spicy peppers called the Scoville scale, which ranks the heat concentration of chilis by Scoville heat units (mild banana peppers come in at around 0-500 SHUs, while the world’s hottest, Carolina Reaper, has been measured at 1.5 million to 2.2 million SHUs).

But how do the sauces made from these peppers vary? Below, our handy primer on a few of our favourites from around the world and how we like to use them.

Predator Great White Shark Hot Sauce

There's a great term called benign masochism that you see tossed around to describe people who enjoy things like hot sauce. It's a way to get your thrills without facing any real danger. Like diving in a shark cage. Or dripping some Predator Great White Shark on your food.

For fans of this hot sauce, every week is shark week! This stuff is only 175,000 Scoville units, so even though it's very hot, the great white of hot sauce is still at the bottom of this list. On Amazon, a reviewer had this to say about how he uses Predator, "I use this stuff whenever I want to reliably adjust the heat of a dish or drink without having to dump in a gallon of sauce. It's very efficient. I'd say about 5 drops of this stuff will warm up a gallon of bloody mary mix about as much as an entire bottle of tobasco (sic) would."

This hot sauce contains vinegar, habaneros, papaya, bananas, and pineapple. No sharks were harmed in the making of this hot sauce.

What's the key to creating great hot sauce? Good chiles, strong vinegar, aromatics, and some salt. Forget all that other junk.

This chile oil is begging for its moment in the sun at your next barbecue, whether that means adding some necessary kick to whatever meat's on the grill, or taking that well-charred flatbread to the next level.

Recipes you want to make. Cooking advice that works. Restaurant recommendations you trust.

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3. Aji verde — Peru

The primary ingredient in this creamy green chili sauce is the aji pepper, which is native to South America and frequently used in Peruvian cooking. To make it yourself, simply combine aji amarillo paste, jalapeños, olive oil, red onion, garlic, lime juice, cilantro, and mayonnaise. Then dollop your homemade hot sauce onto a hefty plate of lomo saltado (stir-fried beef) or cuy chactado (fried guinea pig) and sop up the leftover goodness with a piece of freshly baked bread.

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Cooking Method. I decided to roast my Carolina Reapers along with onion and a lot of garlic, but there are different ways to make this hot sauce. Alternative methods include chopping them and cooking them in a pan, boiling them and processing them, or processing them raw with other ingredients then cooking the resulting puree. You can also ferment the peppers to make hot sauce.
  • Other Ingredients. I kept this rather simple with few ingredients in order to focus on the flavor and heat of the Carolina Reapers. Consider this a basic starter sauce. Feel free to incorporate other ingredients to your preference that you feel will compliment the flavors. Some ideas include fresh or dried herbs, ginger, cumin, chili powders, fruit like mango or habanero, or perhaps a citrus like lime juice or lemon juice. Try it with roasted carrots. You&rsquoll be surprised at the resulting body and mild sweetness.
  • Vinegar. I&rsquove made this and recipes like it with a variety of different vinegars. It just depends on your flavor preference. Just make sure it is a good quality vinegar you enjoy. Using cheap vinegar will result in a cheap sauce. I often use white vinegar that is distilled, but I also enjoy apple cider vinegar for the extra tanginess and touch of sweet.

28 Great Hot Sauces Everyone Should Try

Naming a "best" hot sauce is an impossible task, akin to naming a best episode of MacGyver or a best style of dumpling. Different hot sauces fulfill different needs, and I wouldn't want anyone to live in a world in which each fridge held only one bottle. In that spirit, I won't even attempt to limit my hot sauce recommendations to a single best, or even to a top five or 10. Nope: These are 28 of my favorite hot sauces. I can tell you from experience that if you are planning on attempting this kind of taste test, give yourself a few weeks to space it out, stock plenty of milk and white rice, and keep your plumber's number on speed dial.

Figuring out where to even begin selecting candidates from the thousands of hot sauces bottled and sold in this country is no mean feat. I started by harnessing the power of social media and asked you all for your recommendations. Anything that got a mention, I researched anything that got more than a couple of mentions, I bought and tasted. I also considered recommendations from renowned chili-heads like Bill Moore and Scott Roberts, and looked over lists from other major publications.

Over the course of my research, I also tried to go to Heat Hot Sauce Shop out in the East Bay, only to find that they were temporarily closed. Luckily, their online shop is still open (and perhaps the best place around for hot sauce shopping). The owners were even nice enough to pack me a box of some of their favorite unique sauces among the hundreds they stock in the shop. Many of those sauces ended up landing on my list as well.

To keep things slightly more manageable, I decided to limit myself to hot sauces that are intended to be used as table condiments, rather than ingredients. This meant things like harissa or Chinese-style fermented chili pastes weren't in the running. I also decided to exclude all chili oils (although if I had included them, I can almost guarantee that Chiu Chow Chili Oil and Spicy Chili Crisp would've taken top spots).

Though hot sauce preferences are personal, I'm pretty open to all styles. All except stunt sauces, that is—you know, sauces that are primarily designed to test your machismo.

Finally, I limited my selection to hot sauces that are distributed to stores nationwide or available for purchase online.

I'll start with some of my very favorite sauces, but the rest of the list is in no particular order.

Harissa is North Africa's favorite condiment

NPR calls it "North Africa's Favorite Hot Sauce," because when their Morning Edition crew drove 2,000 miles across Africa, they found it was served everywhere along the way. It's most popular as a condiment in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya, and it's a must-try for anyone who loves some serious spice in their meals.

There are a ton of different recipes for harissa, but the most basic components are hot peppers, salt, garlic, and olive oil. Then, there's usually a pile of various spices added to finish off creating a condiment that's as versatile as it is hot, spicy, and flavorful. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you love an extra kick to your meals, it's definitely worth giving this one a try. And there are a ton of ways you can do just that.

Harissa is used on pretty much everything, served alongside snacks and even just with bread, and it's also used as a base for stews and other dishes. Dean & Deluca say it can come as anything from a thin liquid, to a thick paste, to a puree, and suggest that the darker the chilies and chili powder, the better the harissa.

Branford's Crazy Mango Hot Sauce

Sweet heat is the name of the game with Branford's Crazy Mango Hot Sauce. The heat level is somewhat intense at first but is quickly cooled down with the sweet mango flavors running throughout the sauce. The sauce makes the perfect addition to sandwiches and wraps to add a sweet heat punch.

How we ranked them

When you look at the nutrition label on any hot sauce, you're bound to find 0s everywhere. 0 calories, 0 carbs, 0 fiber. You get the picture. Hot sauce is (hopefully) made with a few, simple, low-calorie ingredients that have a negligible impact on the nutrition facts at such a low serving size (1 teaspoon).

However, as we said, there are two red flags that do make an appearance on the label: sodium and artificial ingredients. We ranked the best and worst supermarket hot sauces based on these two factors.

Still, it's important to keep in mind that this article comes from a zoomed-in standpoint. Theoretically, you're not eating hot sauce in massive quantities at any given meal. In moderation, the bad brands won't kill you! But the whole Eat This, Not That! lifestyle is about making small, easy swaps for overall good health.

Think about it: If you eat a certain hot sauce that is high in sodium and additives every day, over time you may see some adverse effects. Conversely, if you swap out that hot sauce for one of our faves, you avoid these negatives. It's as easy as that—just like steering clear of these 100 Unhealthiest Foods on the Planet.

7 Mediterranean sauces that redefine condiments

Leave the ketchup in the fridge this time. These sauces will surely spruce up your meal.

by Jaime Fraze | Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The perfect summer meal is always a pleasure when it's capped off by a few of your favorite condiments. And while there's surely a place for ketchup, mustard and mayo, for true Mediterranean food lovers, these seven sauces should take over your condiment table.

Tzatziki sauce

/>Tzatziki sauce tastes great with falafel, gyros and a number of other Mediterranean dishes. (Photo: Yulia Davidovich/Shutterstock)

The Greeks gifted the world with many delicious dishes, and tzatziki is one. The mildly tart yogurt-based sauce, seasoned with fresh herbs and a little garlic, is eaten all over the Mediterranean, but it's easy to make at home wherever you live.

Here's our Israeli Kitchen recipe for tzatziki sauce.

Aioli sauce

/>Garlic lovers, take note. (Photo: Christian Jung/Shutterstock)

You've undoubtedly seen this sauce listed on a restaurant menu at one point or another. The name "aioli" is a compound of garlic and oil, and it is essentially a garlicky mayonnaise. So here's our advice: next time you're thinking about putting mayo on a sandwich, or mixing mayo into a parmesan mixture to coat salmon or chicken, try aioli instead.

Here's our Israeli Kitchen recipe for aioli sauce.

Yogurt tahini sauce

/>Yogurt tahini sauce with roasted eggplants and bell peppers (Photo: Miriam Kresh)

Tahini is a pantry staple in every Israeli kitchen, prized not only for that delicately roasted sesame flavor, but also for its versatility. Tahini is most often served savory, as part of a hummus plate, for example, or squeezed over hot falafel in a pita. Here, it's used as a lovely accompaniment to roasted eggplant and bell peppers.

Here's our Israeli Kitchen recipe for yogurt tahini sauce.

Amba sauce

/>Amba sauce is typically used as a topping for Mediterranean dishes like falafel, sabich and shawarma. (Photo: Inga Nielsen/Shutterstock)

You might have seen amba sauce called by another name: mango chutney. The amba version actually originated in India, but it's become quite popular as a topping for Mediterranean dishes like falafel, sabich and shawarma. Basically, anything you can stuff into a pita is always made better with a few teaspoons of amba.

Here's our Israeli Kitchen recipe for amba sauce.


/>If you like hot sauce, this is the one for you. (Photo: kostrez/Shutterstock)

When Israeli Kitchen blogger Miriam Kresh makes her weekly trek to the local open-air market in her neighborhood in Israel, she tends to gravitate toward a table that primarily sells schug. This stuff packs plenty of heat, and the customers love it. It comes in red or green versions, and Kresh provides a recipe for both.

Silan (date syrup)

/>The silan dipping sauce for the skewers is uniquely sweet and perfectly paired with spicy chicken skewers. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Silan sauce is one of several delicious ways to incorporate nutrient-rich dates into your diet. This sauce requires very little effort to make, because most of it is already made and easy to find at your grocery store. Simply add a teaspoon or two of grilling spice to serve with chicken skewers, fish tacos or a variety of other dishes.

Here's our Israeli Kitchen recipe for spicy chicken skewers that includes a simple silan recipe.


/>Matbucha is a tomato-based Mediterranean spread with herbs and spices. (Photo: Sarah F. Berkowitz)

Imagine all the most wonderful flavors and spices of the Mediterranean roasted and blended – and you have matbucha. Serve over chicken cutlets, rice, quinoa, fish, in a pita, with crusty bread, crackers – there's not much this spicy, savory sauce won't enhance.

Here's our Israeli Kitchen recipe for matbucha.

Jaime Fraze is a staff writer, copy editor and web producer at From the Grapevine who also manages Israeli Kitchen, From The Grapevine’s food channel.

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