Hey folks, today it’s time to take another look at the East Coast Chilli Co.
A couple of months ago (has it really been that long?), I brought you a review of their teriyaki-style reaper sauce and told you that I thought it was probably their hottest. This month, we’re going straight to the opposite end of the spectrum, to their absolute mildest offering:
This latest freebie of mine is their “Passion”, supposedly an extra mild mango sauce and one that they really talk up when it comes to flavour. We’ll see how well it holds up to their sales pitch in just a moment, though.
First, let’s give the bottle a once over.
It’s a standard 150ml sort, just like the last of theirs, and it holds the same black label, with only a few small changes. Yet it gives off a very different feel.
Without the red in its text and flames, Passion already feels less sinister and, despite them being quite fiery colours, its oranges and yellows feel unusually gentle. They’ve chosen shades that are quite peachy and rather light on the red.
It doesn’t scream mild, given that it’s still using bright colours on a black background, but it doesn’t look particularly hot, either. It’s not going to scare people off before they see its one out of five pitchforks or the bolded “Extra Mild” in its centre.
It isn’t the perfect design for a super mild sauce but then it couldn’t be. The ECCC have to maintain some level of consistency between it and their other sauces for brand recognition. It’s a compromise between those two priorities.
What I’m not sold on is the smell when I open it. Bold garlic overtones with a mango and onion base and a lingering vinegar afternote.
If I really concentrate, I feel like I can pick up on a touch of carrot but that might just be my mind playing tricks on me after reading the ingredients list:
Mango Pulp (21%), (Mango 90%, Sugar 8%, Citric acid) Grated carrot Mild red chillies (17%), Onion, White vinegar, Fresh lime, Garlic, Salt
And, while specifying grated carrot is interesting, that’s a very generic list none the less.
It looks like there’s nothing special about this sauce and the only thing unusual about its aroma is the strength of the garlic.
I’ve got to give it a go anyway, though. Got to treat it fairly and give it a chance:
It pours like a thin sauce but closer inspection shows a fine pulpy texture, as though its been strained through a sieve before bottling. In texture, it’s like a watered down sriracha with just a few slightly bigger shreds of the chilli and garlic.
Fine enough too feel smooth, yet still give some substance. It’s a remarkably good consistency and the flavour’s great too.
It might not be anything special in terms of ingredients but this product definitely makes their quality and the quality of their preparation known. Everything in here tastes so wonderfully fresh. So much so that I would probably believe you if you told me it had been bottled mere minutes before opening.
And that garlic is definitely still there but it’s not scorched like in the Midnight 21 or anywhere near as prominent as in the sauce’s aroma. It gives a bit of savoury body to this otherwise very fruit-heavy concoction, helping balance out its natural sweetness without stepping on the mango’s toes one bit.
Similarly, the vinegar hasn’t been hidden completely but it doesn’t leap out at you, either. This sauce is all about that fresh mango flavour, supported by gentle carrots. Everything else just builds a little extra complexity on top for a more sophisticated taste.
I wasn’t expecting much after smelling it but this sauce is delicious and it truly is the bright, refreshing taste of summer that I was promised.
Among other things, the East Coast Chilli Co suggest having it on fish, chicken and cold meats, which I thoroughly agree with. And while I like my salads bold, with way too much tomato, pepper and kiwi, a lighter, more lettuce-centric one might well work as a good vegetarian or vegan conduit for its deliciousness.
I definitely want to keep the other flavours mild, though, so that I can really appreciate the finer qualities of their Passion.
It’s a little hotter than I had expected from “extra mild” but its high
is still well within what “mild” means to me. Not even on the high end of the category.
It’s the sort of heat where I could not only drink this sauce but enjoy doing so. So I took it to my bartender to see what he’d come up with:
A mango margarita which was pretty pleasant but could have, in my opinion, used a little more of the sauce. The sauce on its own is so tasty and refreshing that I really wanted it to come to the fore in my cocktail.
But, that aside, the concept was a good one. He was just a little too hesitant to use up my ingredients.
This sauce does work in drinks, or even over yoghurt or icecream, in addition to its more normal uses. And, while it has barely any heat to it, it doesn’t need any to make itself my favourite mango sauce.
All it needs for that is its fantastic flavour and texture!