What’s up fiery food fans? My name’s Coran Sloss and, if this sounds like the start of a Youtube video, I’m very sorry but there is a good reason for it.
You see, today’s product is one that’s going to hold a special place in my heart, whether I wind up liking it or not, so I really aught to give you a bit of backstory to explain why.
As you’re hopefully all aware, this is a UK-centric recipe and review site, for the simple reason that I’m from the UK. More specifically, though, I’m british. British through and through.
I was born in scotland, I grew up in england, my humour is both pun-based and cynical and I speak only one language fluently. Yet my name is anything but typical of the country or countries that I call home.
My given name, Coran, comes from my mother’s irish heritage and, while similarly celtic, my surname is from my dad’s side, by way of america.
Both of my parents were well travelled and, between the two of them, they spoke more or less every major language in europe. And a few beyond.
It is from them that I have picked up my rudimentary german, french, italian and spanish – Enough to read an ingredients list, even if I can’t manage much more – and my interest in other cultures is likely their influence as well. My interest in weird fruit, though? That comes from slightly further afield.
In recent times, it has been spurred on by anime, my love of fruity hot sauce and a friend that I made on youtube but, even back in high school, I was buying dragonfruit, horned melons and yellow tomatoes to see what they were like.
And, before that, I had a grandma with a house in spain. One with a garden that grew something that you’ve probably never heard of. Nesparos – The key ingredient in today’s sauce and a fruit that I’ve not had since childhood.
Today, we’re looking at Ibiza Chilli Co’s Magnificent 7. A real blast from the past for me, combined with one of my current favourites: The original yellow 7-pot/pod from trinidad.
I was absolutely amazed when I saw that Hot-Headz were importing such a sauce. Or, at least, once I’d googled its ingredients I was.
The label refers to the fruit by its ibizan name, which was just different enough from the menorquin dialect that I didn’t recognise it immediately. And, as I was looking it up, I discovered that neither was what it’s known as in english.
The english name of the fruit comes from cantonese and is rather well known, even if the fruit it refers to isn’t. It is, in fact, a loquat – Named for its similarity in appearance to the unrelated kumquat.
It is small, round and somewhere between peach and orange it its ripened colour, with a cluster of large, brown seeds inside.
Its sugar and pectin contents are both high, making it ideal for jam, chutney and possibly sweet sauces, though it is even more commonly eaten fresh or poached in syrup. Sometimes as a cure for a sore throat.
Today’s product, however, quite clearly contains no syrup and, in fact, no added sugar of any kind. Any sweetness that it might possess will be coming naturally from its “nispero” and apple.
Here’s the full translated ingredients list, though, so that you can see exactly what goes into it before it goes into me:
Nispero of Ibiza (54.4%), Lemon Juice of Ibiza (20.2%), Vinegar (Sulphites), Apple Juice, 7 Pot Chilli of Ibiza (0.8%), Turmeric, Salt of Ibiza (0.5%), Spices, Xanthan Gum.
A list which is very intent on pointing out its local ingredients. Something that I wouldn’t normally pay too much attention to but, let’s be real, there’s no way we’d be getting a loquat sauce otherwise.
It’s that focus on local ingredients and “creativity not conformity”, as its maker put it, that allows today’s product to even exist.
Yet, even though that’s what sells the sauce to me, the only image on the label is a carefully sketched out green version of the chilli that goes into it.
You have to really look to even find mention of “nisperos” in the text and that feels like a serious missed opportunity, now that the sauce is selling outside of its own small island.
Hopefully, then, the loquat will be rather more obvious in its taste.
Before I can get to that taste, though, I have to get past this:
The very same flow restrictor that was in the worst sauce that I have ever tried. A reminder of something utterly offensive to my senses and a shocking thing to find here.
But it’s ok. This isn’t that chunky, dark, smoky mess. This is a smoother, thinner, lighter sauce which bears no other resemblance to it.
One which takes far less effort to empty from the bottle and has a far more pleasing aroma as I do so.
As I fill my spoon, I’m getting a strong whiff of tangy, zesty citrus and a light mix of savoury spices, but not of any sort that I can place.
It’s part lemon, part something woodier, almost resembling old, dried lemondrop flakes. Yet, at the same time, it’s neither of those things and nor is it kumquat peel – The closest other scent that I can think of.
It’s wonderfully familiar, yet nothing I know at the same time. So I guess it’s time to taste it.
Flavour-wise, the lemon now comes across a little more strongly but the body is a softer fruit – Something that’s not quite apricot. It’s tart, for sure, yet also just a little bit rich, with the very beginnings of a slow-roasted taste taking hold in what, I suppose, must be the loquats.
Plus, while it was there in its aroma as well, it is now apparent to me that the peel I smelt has the same quality to it as that in lime pickle. Even if it isn’t much like lime.
Overall, though, this is a very fresh, bright and acidic sauce, practically guaranteed to make your mouth water. Its spices fitting in well, where I can make them out amidst the unusual fruity, citrussy flavour.
And, while I can’t really pick out its chilli from the other ingredients, that might not be due solely to its low quantity.
Ibiza Chilli Co clearly knew what they were doing when they picked a yellow 7-pot, since the lemon and apricot-like flavours of their fruit are a near-perfect match for its own. It fits in so well with the loquat and lemon that I doubt that I’d be able to distinguish it at ten times the concentration. Though I’d certainly get a lot more heat.
At over six hundred thousand scoville, the chilli is probably the hottest thing not to meet the usual definition of “superhot” and I’m still unclear on whether it meets my own. It’s just below the mildest of red ghost peppers so, were this a chilli-heavy sauce, I’d be expecting something in the four point fives. Maybe even a low five out of ten.
Fortunately for the average person, though, it’s not. The company haven’t gone overboard at all.
Instead, they’ve held back enough to make something that’s merely hot, not extra or super. Something that hits the bottom of a
and then lingers on the roof of my mouth for quite a while, as it slowly fades away. The duration of something super strong, if not the sheer intensity.
This is a sauce that can be enjoyed by most chilli lovers but it isn’t for every meal. The Magnificent 7 is made with local ibizan ingredients to work with local ibizan cuisine and it shows.
It would be absolutely divine drizzled delicately over fresh, white fish or oyster in place of lemon. Prawns and langoustine would be perfect with just a dash in with a creamy white sauce. And, for those of you who don’t like seafood so much, it’ll certainly bring out the freshness in ripe tomatoes and other mediterranean veg, or add an extra dimension to aioli.
It’ll be a beautiful addition to most forms of island food but it won’t add much to your roast or fried eggs. Won’t go with your macaroni cheese or bolster your mexican cooking. And the only curry I can really see it livening up is an okra one, where I’d normally use lemondrop powder.
If you enjoy delicate food where a citrus drizzle feels right at home, this sauce will be an instant favourite. But, if not, I don’t honestly know if you’ll use it too much. Despite its quality.
So, in the end, whether or not I’d recommend it rests entirely on your own tastes.
I am, however, very grateful to Ibiza Chilli Co for making such an interesting and nostalgic sauce for me to try and to Hot-Headz for bringing it into my country. This one’s a real goody and there’s little else like it.