Alright, everybody, we’re still a few days away from valentine’s day and I’ve got a review to write. You know it’s going to be a themed one.
Yet, at this point, nothing that I can show you is likely to arrive in time for the holiday. You’re not going to be giving it as a gift, so here’s something which isn’t just for february fourteenth:
The Seductress, from Henry’s Hot Sauce. A product which aims to highlight flavour over fire and, in doing so, really make the most of its thoroughly roasted brazilian starfish chillies.
Its label is one of the worst that I’ve ever seen, placing black text on black to render its name illegible. Yet, as with the upcoming Sonic movie, I’m cautiously optimistic about its contents.
The starfish is, after all, one of the tastiest mild red chillies around.
It’s not especially bright, fruity, earthy, acidic, floral, rich or nuanced, mind you. It’s not a special or unique-tasting chilli in any way. It’s just a particularly sweet, bold and “full” red pepper flavour. One that’s most easily described as “like a bell but better”.
Albeit, in my opinion, quite a lot better.
What that means for the Seductress is simple: The natural sweet and savoury flavours brought out when the peppers are fire-roasted are going to play to their inherent strengths but exactly how well they do so is liable to make or break this sauce.
With little else to set it apart, it’s sheer quality that’s going to make or break today’s feature. So let’s crack that bottle open!
The sauce inside pours cleanly onto my spoon. It’s thick, weighty and slightly sticky, yet not enough of any of those to cling to or clog the neck. In fact, what it resembles most is a homemade, low-sugar ketchup – Just a tad bit pulpier and less well-strained than commercial varieties.
In its aroma, though, the difference is ever so clear. There’s no nutmeg or cinnamon in this one and it’s not the garlic that leaps out at me, either. It’s ginger. Ginger and peppers, without so much as a touch of tomato.
And, indeed, that’s how it tastes, too. Roasted red peppers, with plenty of sweetness and an incredibly strong overtone of ginger.
The sweetness isn’t entirely from the peppers, themselves, though. It also stems from the addition of onions and added sugar but, regardless of where it comes from, it pairs very nicely with the sauce’s spicy rhizome. As well as with its vinegar tang.
Perhaps my initial ketchup impression wasn’t as far off as I thought because that’s definitely what the Seductress’ sweet and sour undertones remind me of. A tomato-free pepper ketchup with a tonne of ginger and none of the right spices.
Yet using the wrong spices isn’t hurting it in any way. The smoked paprika, while not strong enough to add smokiness to today’s sauce, definitely enhances its roasted flavour, while adding a little depth of its own. And that ginger is an intense highlight, providing the majority of the strong
along with its earthy, spicy taste.
I like this sauce a lot and, while probably it won’t go quite as well with jollof as Hot Face’s ginger sauce, it’s quickly becoming my favourite in the genre as it goes on everything else I’m eating.
It’s delicious on cheese or as a tortilla chip dip, as well as when it’s enhancing just about any roasted meat or veg. And, while I’m also loving it over stir-frys and other chinese dishes, I think that it’d work at least as well as the base sauce for one.
It’s not half bad over pie and chips, either.
But, when paired with food, this sauce does fall foul of the same phenomenon that we saw in Screaming Chimp‘s Pineapple – The fire of the ginger gets partially masked and the sauce drops to a mild
that really demonstrates how little chilli is actually in here.
Looking at the ingredients, the Seductress is only one percent starfish and the majority of the pepper flavour must be coming from its bells. Here’s the full list:
garlic 10%, ginger 4%, Brazilian starfish chillies 1% smoked paprika 1% fire roasted peppers 47%, red onions 17%, red wine vinegar 14% sugar 7%
Completely out of order and with seemingly random punctuation but that’s hardly surprising, coming from the company who brought us black comic sans on black and who’s logo is just covered in jpeg fuzz.
Their labelling is poorly designed, in every way, but the sauce, itself, is really quite delightful. And, given how little I have left, I’d say that it lives up to the name.
It’s definitely a sweet and seductive blend, with a small but sharp bite that matches the model’s crazy canines. If you don’t mind it being more of a ginger and bell pepper sauce than a chilli one, this is an excellent sauce.
Though I’d also like to see a special version with strawberries, a la The FBI’s Ball Breaker. It’d go so well with the roasted peppers and the red grapes in the vinegar.
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