African Green

Well, that’s two weeks of red sauces in a row. I think today might be the time to mix things up a bit with an older item. A review of something green that I tried some time ago, tweaked to match my modern standards.

It’s a green sauce with a difference, though. A coriander, lime and scotch bonnet one from Wiga Wagaa:

2017-01-20 11.50.15

A company who dedicate themselves to getting full on, african-style flavour into their assorted chilli products.

Today, we’re going to see just how well that flavour holds up but first, I want to take a little look at the ingredients:

Water, Fresh Coriander, Onions, Ginger, Fresh Lime, Fresh Lime Juice, Scotch Bonnet Chillies (9%), Sugar, Garlic, Soy Sauce, Fresh Tarragon, Fresh Banana, Honey, Fresh curry leaves, Mustard Powder, Corn Starch, Seasoning, Salt, Herbs, Preservatives (Sodium Ascorbate, Potassium Sorbate)

We’ll talk about the preservatives in a minute but, for now, there’s something else that I want to address: The use of the word “fresh”.

That one word appears six times in this sauce’s ingredients list. At least triple the amount that I’ve seen in any other and before both herbs and fruit. Combine that with the already fresh-tasting main flavours in the sauce’s title and my expectation are set.

It’s going to be a fresh-tasting sauce, right?

Wrong.

When I pour this medium-thickness, dark and murky green sauce onto my spoon, it’s anything but fresh in flavour.

2017-01-20 11.52.18

What it is, first and foremost, is rich. A strong blend of banana, green herbs and soy, cooked right down until they form a single, fairly intense flavour and the individual ingredients are practically unrecognisable.

The only way in which the herbs’ freshness matters is that it means that they haven’t had time to mellow out. They’re still as bold as can be and that fact is super obvious in how green the sauce tastes. Even if what herbs actually make up that greenness is not.

But I could, perhaps, take a guess at which single one most defines the end product: The curry leaves.

Regardless of how much they’re actually contributing to the sauce’s flavour (something that’s really hard to say with certainty), they’re definitely the one that’s most like what I’m getting of it. Dark, green and savoury, with a bit of depth and richness, the last two of which are enhanced by the soy.

Not that there’s not also a little sweetness to this one. And a low

2.5/10

Heat

that’s stronger than most green sauces, if still rather milder than I had hoped.

It is just a medium strength, rich, boiled-down, green mush that tastes more like it looks outside the bottle than anything on the label would suggest. Yet, as green mushes go, this is probably the best that I’ve ever eaten and it has some genuine food uses.

I rather like it to amp up an underperforming molé, say, or to compliment a dish that’s already heavy on well-cooked greens, like the indian saag aloo. A lot of african curries seem to match it in richness using fermented beans or fish paste so I suspect that the less tomato-based among them would also pair nicely.

Besides those three things, though, I don’t have much in the way of ideas and I would, if I’m honest, have much preferred to taste the lime, fresh herb and chilli that I was expecting.

As for its preservatives, sodium ascorbate (E301) is a salt of ascorbic acid (vitamin c) produced by reacting it with common baking soda. It’s used to raise the acidity of food, creating too harsh an environment for a lot of bacteria to live in, but it’s also more easily absorbed by the body than the standard form of vitamin c from which it is made.

It occurs naturally in some fruit and veg.

And potassium sorbate (E202) is a compound that was first found in the berries of the himalayan mountain ash. It is colourless, flavourless and odourless but prevents the growth of both bacteria and mould and is practically harmless. Because of this, it appears in large numbers of foods and beauty products.

It does, however, cause irritation if used in especially high quantities and it is a known allergen, if a pretty uncommon one.

Neither of these seems to warrant any concern unless you have that relevant allergy but, even so, I don’t feel like recommending today’s sauce. It’s just too niche in its usage and not nearly as vibrant in flavour as I had hoped.

It’s not a bad product but it’s not a good one, either, and the hotter green sauce role is far better filled by Marie Sharp’s, Fiendfyre or, if you’re into particularly vinegary sauces, even Mahi’s Green Savi.

I might like it a little more if I could pick out the taste of the chilli but, even then, it’d still fall pretty short of what I wanted it to be.

It’s an all-round mediocre sauce with packaging that can’t even be given that much. A poorly printed gradient background with dull black text and a few small, non-specific green chillies. Nothing more interesting or informative and not even the slightest bit of water resistance.

Like many sauces, it says to refrigerate it but I’m glad that I wrote this review before ever doing so because I don’t know if its (already hard to read) ingredients list would have survived the condensation.

Fortunately, though, if any of you are still interested in today’s item, they have fixed that aspect of its labelling. The design is just as dull but, as you can hopefully tell from this image that I managed to sneak in a local store, the print and paper quality have gone way up since my first draft of this post. It’s even glossy!

NewWagaa

But it still looks no more impressive than it tastes, in my opinion.

One thought on “African Green

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