Hot Sauce

Wednesday, 22 September 2010 | Tags: , , ,

Used for heat and flavour in many cuisines around the world, hot sauces can range from sweet to savoury to hellishly painful. We look into what makes hot sauces around the world different and unique.


  • Hot sauce is hot because of chili peppers, which are believed to have originated from Brazil. They spread throughout North America, Europe and Asia by explorers and settlers.

  • New Mexico, USA, produces more than $60 million in chili peppers every year.

  • Chili peppers belong to the nightshade family (Solanacea), which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco, and eggplant.

Hot Sauce Basics

  • Most hot sauce ingredients are comprised of chili peppers, vinegar, and salt. Combined with oils and other ingredients, they turn into a variety of different flavours.

    • Paprika is a red chili that is not hot, but is often used to add colour.

    • Cayenne and tobasco chilis are commonly used peppers in hot sauces.

  • Flavour varies depending on the peppers used and how they are prepared. Jalapeño peppers, once smoked and dried, are called chipotle peppers, which have milder heat and an earthy, smoked flavour.

North American Hot Sauce

  • Common peppers used in North American hot sauces include jalapeño, poblano, ancho, habañero, chipotle, and tobasco.

  • Louisiana hot sauce is a thin red sauce made from hot peppers, vinegar and salt. It has moderate heat compared to other hot sauces. It’s often used in Creole and Cajun cooking. 

  • Popular brands involved in heat-induced one-upmanship include Ring of Fire, Queen of Farts, Mountain Main, Molten Golden, Satan’s Blood, Scorned Woman, and many more.

Mexican Hot Sauce

  • These tend to be made from similar ingredients as North American, but are thicker and heavier.

  • Valentina is a popular brand found in many restaurants.

Asian Hot Sauce

  • Much sweeter than their worldly counterparts, Asian hot sauces pack plenty of heat nonetheless. They tend to be thicker than North American hot sauces.
  • Indonesian hot sauces are also sweet, containing sweet soy or caramelized onions.

Caribbean (Jamaican) Hot Sauce

  • Made from the scotch bonnet pepper, these sauces tend to be very hot compared to Mexican and North American varieties.

  • The name comes from their shape, resembling a typical scotch bonnet hat.

  • Fans of these sauces say they’re appreciated for more than just heat. They typically include a combination of spices and flavours like pineapple, mango, papaya, and other tropical fruit

  • These ingredients add a sweetness, but there is no sugar added to the sauces.

Be Aware

  • Always be careful when handling chilis. Definitely use gloves. You must even be careful when you remove the gloves so as not to get the chili pepper oil on any surfaces you might later touch, like the counter.

  • Never touch your eyes. If you get chili pepper oil in your eyes, rinse with water.

  • If you eat a hot sauce or chili that is too hot for you, drink some milk, which helps to counteract the burn.


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