So, as I mentioned in last week’s restaurant review, I went to Brighton’s Fiery Foods festival the weekend before last and got to see a whole bunch of new sauces. Some from newer companies and some from old favourites.
Today’s review is of the latter but I didn’t actually get it at the event. I picked it up a few days prior, on my stop over in london, because I didn’t want to risk its maker having run out. It is, after all, a very special limited edition:
Now, Nuzu is not one of the products that I got free from the company. It’s a limited edition which I bought with my own money, down at Hop Burns & Black. One that I’m putting the free stuff on hold for, because it’s a little more time sensitive.
I’m sure that Jason won’t mind me skipping straight to his ninth anniversary special.
And perhaps that anniversary is where its name comes from – A portmanteaux of “Ninth” and “Yuzu” – but it’s just as likely that the N comes from its naga content. Its rare, white naga content.
Yes, it may look more like a pale yellow (or a luminous one under my strong lighting) but this is actually, to my knowledge, the UK’s first white chilli sauce. Which is both visually stunning, against its black and gold label, and rather more than just a gimmick.
You see, most colours of pepper have a distinctive flavour. Red peppers taste like red peppers. Orange peppers taste like orange peppers. Brown peppers taste like brown peppers. And yellow peppers taste either like yellow peppers or like tropical, citrussy ones. But whites, they taste like none of the above.
White peppers are light, crisp and pure in flavour, without the associated taste of any colour, and, while they can have a slight straw, oat or clotted cream element, the majority of their flavour is that of the variety itself – In this case, the naga.
Without their depth of red chilli qualities, though, the taste of nagas and ghost peppers is actually pretty subtle. So, when I go in for my usual taste test, it’s not the chilli that hits first and nor is it the promised pear.
I get the onions and I get the white wine vinegar but, above all, I get the yuzu. The wonderful, distinctive, lemony, orangey, warming citrus brought over from japan.
Light, slightly floral, peppery notes come in just a second or two later, along with the burn, and impart an almost zesty quality as they ramp up to a sharp but not stinging
at the top of my mouth.
Not quite the full on five of a first ingredient red naga product but then, this isn’t that. This is a slightly more accessible sauce that puts flavour first and uses both charleston and heatless white peppers to keep its nagas from overwhelming.
Because, at the end of the day, it’s going to go on white fish, chicken salad, tuna pasta and an assortment of non-fish seafood, like oysters and mussels. Into fish tacos, over sushi and maybe even with some segments of a tapas menu. A good variety of meals but all ones where you really want to appreciate their freshness and not drown the nuance in heat.
It’s clearly a chilli-lover’s sauce but it’s not for extreme heat seekers. It’s more for those who can appreciate the subtleties of rare pepper and citrus flavours on an equally delicate dish.
It’s not the sweet and fruity sauce that I was expecting, after my last pear product, but it highlights one of my favourite other fruits and it makes great use of a chilli that I’ve long been hoping to see in a sauce. I’ll definitely be taking it with me when I next go out for spanish or japanese food.
White Cap Peppers, Charleston Peppers, Pear, Onion, White Wine Vinegar, White Naga Chillies, Yuzu Juice, & Sea Salt.
It does not contain anything that would typically be considered red but there are a few red shreds, all the same, in amongst the pulp and seeds that give the sauce its liquid yet lightly crunchable texture. These are, as it turns out, the result of charlestons ripening past their pale, near-white stage to a lesser-known final colour.
Something which I bring up not as a criticism but simply because I find it an interesting trivia piece. That even some of the pale chillies in this sauce can eventually turn red.
The majority, however, have kept their lighter colouration and been a perfect fit for the product – A mild variety that doesn’t detract from the main naga and citrus taste.
Jason, as usual, knows what he’s doing and I’d definitely recommend his new Nuzu.