Hey folks, Today I’m back with another importer highlight but also an apology to Laterra.
In my post about Mex Grocer, I mistakenly referred to their product as their “Savoury Mexican Tomatillo Sauce”, when that was not its name at all. It was merely the product description.
The true name of that sauce was “Michoacan”, after the region that inspired it – A name that I had mistaken for the sauce’s place of origin.
No such mistakes will be made today, however, as I look at another pair of Laterra’s sauces, purchased from Spices on the Web.
Once again, Spices on the Web are not a chilli specialist but nor, this time, are they a specialist in regional cuisine. Instead, they specialise in spices of all kinds, from mace blades and unique salts to things like dehydrated elderflower.
They do sell dried and powdered peppers, as well as small superhot plants as early as march or april, and they do have a nice little range of artisan sauces. All at quite reasonable prices, too.
The one thing that they don’t do a vast amount of is imported sauce.
For whatever reason, the only ones that I’ve seen are Laterra’s but they stock more of the company’s ranged than Mex Grocer did so it’s time to try out a couple more.
In particular, let’s start with their Chihuahua.
Quite frankly, I wish that that wasn’t its name. It sounds ridiculous outside of mexico, where the region is only known for its small, yappy dog. But it is what it is and I have to respect that. I can’t spend the whole post calling it their “Mexican Spicy Chipotle, Tomato & Peanut Sauce”, even if that description is what sold me on it.
In particular, it’s that little mention of peanut at the end that does it, since I’ve had satay off-record and some gorgeous peanut butters on but never any other sort of peanut-based sauce. What’s it going to be like in a more mexican-style, smoky item?
Well, there’s one easy way to find out and that’s to try it. Not that you really have to taste it to see its oil on my spoon:
No, what tasting it tells me is that there’re whole chunks suspended beneath the surface, sparsely distributed to add just a little crunch to the sauce. Quite the odd texture choice, if you ask me, but one that I could put up with if the peanuts brought something else to the table.
Unfortunately, I don’t think they do. The oil has not been blended in to create an emulsion, so they’re not adding richness, and the main flavour that I’m getting is rich, slightly smoky, cook tomato. Supported, of course, by the addition of garlic and onion, which appears to have been dried before use.
It’s a decent enough sauce but it doesn’t bring anything special to the table. It’s more tomato than anything else and the chunks that it adds to food are simply off putting.
It’ll go well with roasts and any tomato-based soup or stew but, unless its high
or that slight hint of smoke particularly appeals to you, I’d recommend Fat Man Chilli Co’s “ketchup” over it every time. Their rich tomato base is very similar but also rather better explored than the Chihuahua’s.
Like the dog, this sauce seems like it’s all bark. But it’s not the only product that I intend to show you today.
Laterra’s Chihuahua may not have been up to my standards but I can tell you now, their Del Tropico is another story.
That “savoury sweet mango sauce” is labelled in the same fashion as their others, with the company name and logo in white near the top of a roughly 250ml, clear bottle that showcases the sauce inside. The only solid imagery to obscure its red-flecked, almost golden, orangey-yellow contents is that of the main ingredient in the centre – The mangos themselves.
You might notice, though, that these aren’t your ordinary mangos. These are a mexican strain. One known as “ataulfo”.
This strain is different from the normal supermarket variety in many ways. It’s sweeter, it’s more perfumed, the stone is smaller, the shape is different and it never turns red. But, perhaps most importantly, it’s not fibrous in the slightest. The ataulfo mango is smooth, soft and string-free, with an almost melt in the mouth texture that I often see described as “buttery”.
I don’t actually like it. To me, it’s so sweet as to be sickly and so floral as to feel like eating beauty products, instead of a fruit. Yet, cooked into this sauce, I can see exactly why it’s a favourite across the globe, grown in mexico, pakistan, japan and the philippines.
The heat of cooking has removed the majority of the mango’s more nasal, perfumed elements and given its sugars an almost syrupy quality, while maintaining the underlying fruit flavour and reducing it to a thick, silky smooth sauce. The texture is divine and the underlying fruit notes really shine through.
Laterra’s herbs are wasted here, since they can’t compete with the Del Tropico’s bold mango body, but the subtle hints of de arbol chilli do manage to bring a little extra complexity and balance to the end product. Giving it a mere
but pushing its flavour from “delicious” to absolutely exquisite.
This sauce is not what the bottle says – It’s not savoury in any way – but it showcases a very special ingredient in an absolutely beautiful manner and it makes for a perfect dessert sauce over ice-cream, yoghurts and fruit salad.
It has a pretty different taste to other mango products that I’ve had and definitely won’t go with anything savoury like ChimouliS’, Chilli Pepper Pete’s and the Screaming Chimp’s were clearly meant to. Yet nor is it the refreshing, carroty, fruit sauce that East Coast Chilli Co’s was.
If it’s going to go into drinks, they’re going to be the sweet and highly decadent sort, not the more summery and sophisticated mango margarita that I got previously. This may be my new favourite mango sauce but it’s not going to replace any of the others in my life.
It is, however, a definite recommendation from me. If you like mango, you need to try Laterra’s Del Tropico. It’s incredible!
Here’s what goes into it:
Mango pulp (54%), sugar, water, cane vinegar, árbol chilli, salt and special blend of Laterra spices (cumin, thyme).
While the Chihuahua contains:
Tomato (55.27%), chipotle chilli peppers, peanuts (4.18%) and special blend of Laterra spices (garlic, oregano, onion).
Now, go check out Spices on the Web. They have plenty more than just today’s import sauces but the Del Tropico is reason enough, in my mind, to give them a look.
And, while I’ve never reviewed anything free from them, they have sent me plants in the past, so I’ll be adding them to the convenient links in my sidebar.
See you next week, spice lovers.