Simply Ají

What’s up my fiery food fans? As you all know by now, I’m a lover of all things weird and wonderful – A freak, you could say – and I started this site to explore the crazy flavours in chilli sauce.

Yet we all need a break, from time to time, so today I’m trying something simple. Something with only three, ordinary ingredients:

SDCFPeru

This is South Devon Chilli Farm’s Peruvian blend and those ingredients are:

Fresh Aji Chillies (60%), Spirit Vinegar, Salt.

It’s an incredibly simple sauce but its purity is high and it highlights a regional pepper strain. So let’s see how different that peruvian variety tastes, shall we?

Before we begin, though, there is, as always, some packaging to look at.

A light green label adorns today’s product, featuring the bolder green and red text that we’ve come to expect from the company. It’s used for their lower case name, sandwiched between two pairs of similarly coloured lines, and it’s used for the name of this “Peruvian Chilli Sauce” but, more interestingly, it’s also used for the tail feathers of what my research tells me is a very stylised rooster. A rooster adapted from traditional, mayan art and coloured in four different tones.

Red and green for the tail, representing the chillies within. Brown for the body, to reflect the real bird. And yellow for its head and crest, seemingly to show the bright and citrussy flavour of the peppers, while also mimicking the sunrise that the bird is known to crow at.

It’s simple, yet significant, bringing a whole bunch of details together into a stylish and distinctive little package. Which I rather like.

But, that said, I don’t think peru when I see aztec and mayan art – I think of mexico. Despite its place in the history of both.

So, for me at least, its design isn’t perfect. It could do more to sell the actual origin of its pepper but, even so, it says a lot and it does so succinctly. It’s effective, memorable and different – Especially with that unusually gentle, green background – and I definitely appreciate that.

South Devon Chilli Farm have done well on the art, this time, but how’ve they done on the taste?

SDCFPeruSpoon

Their sauce is thin and pinkish in colour, now that it’s out of the bottle, but absolutely filled with shreds of their ají red peppers. And, while its aroma is that of cooked down, savoury red fruit, it’s definitely not tomato. This is the pure pepper sauce that its ingredients claim, albeit far tangier when it hits my tongue.

Because yes, it’s sixty percent chilli but it’s also almost forty percent vinegar. Sharp, spirit vinegar. This isn’t one for anyone keen on delicate flavours.

Yet, despite that indelicacy, there’s still a fair bit of intricacy going on within that chilli.

The ají reds seem to posses the savoury qualities of a scotch bonnet, the berry-like natural sweetness of a cherry bomb and a touch of the pequin’s woodiness. There’s also just a hint of fruit, to bring together the sweet and savoury, though not so much as a bonnet might normally have, and a bit of bitterness to compliment the woodier tones while offsetting the sweet.

I would not call it “a fresh, citrus flavour”, like SDCF do, but it’s quite a pleasant combination and their choice of vinegar does bring a strong tang of its own. As well as highlighting the high medium

3/11

Heat

that the peppers send spiking across the upper back of my mouth.

A very typical type of burn for a peruvian baccatum pepper.

This sauce is going to work well with fresh or roasted pepper dishes that’ll really compliment the natural sweetness of its own peppers, as well as adding much needed freshness to some juicy tomato sides, like supermarket salsa or a bloody mary.

It’s also going to go with chicken, as its makers suggest, and probably most other poultry, too. Yet I just don’t see it working with fish. Not when it’s lacking those advertised citrus tones.

I don’t feel like this Peruvian Chilli Sauce is quite what it was made out to be but, even so, it’s pleasant enough and well worth a shot if you’re interested in the ají reds that it uses.

As, I hope, is their encyclopedia page.

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