Ooft! That’s Hot!

So, folks, I talked a bit about Carrington’s Flaming Chup in last week’s harissa review and I thought that that would be a great excuse to follow up with another of their products, today. A post on their Chillichup, which I’ve had in reserve for a while.

Then Encona came along, however, with an even more ketchup-y rework of their old “Carolina Reaper Sauce”. And I just couldn’t do it.

Two ketchups in a row was too much. So, instead, here are couple of other sauces that I’ve had on the back burner for a bit. The original and chipotle versions of Ooft!, from Island Girl Ltd:

Another small company, run by a couple in scotland, using an old, trinidadian family recipe. Though not, perhaps, the mustard-based one you might expect.

No, today’s sauce gets its extra zing from a large, white radish, known as either daikon or mooli, depending on your region. And that, my friends, is utterly unique.

I’ve never seen that ingredient in any other chilli product and I’m very curious to see what it does for Ooft!

Visually speaking, however, Ooft! doesn’t seem to make anywhere near as much of a big deal out of the radish as they do on their website. The only possible reference to it is in the shape of the brand’s Os and, honestly, I don’t think that that’s intentional.

I think that they’re just using a strangely rounded font for extra impact and to help them get away with turning the second such O into a stylised, red pepper.

So yes, the label says chilli. And the image of a wax-sealed ribbon, upon which that name resides, seems to suggest a premium product. But that’s all that their art does.

It doesn’t say anything about what actually sets the contents apart and it doesn’t even indicate the scotch bonnet or island inspiration for the flavours. Nor does it change, at all, to reflect the darker, chipotle sauce.

Both bottles are identical, in their imagery, distinguished only by the colour of the sauce inside, a tiny bit of text at the bottom and a great taste award, from twenty-fifteen, on the original.

So, sure, I have high hopes for the flavour of today’s feature. But only because I read up on both bottles before I began.

Now, let’s put that taste to the test. Starting with the original:

It’s relatively thin and pours quickly, despite its abundance of small shreds, chunks and seeds. And its aroma is strong, yet only lightly peppery, with an obvious, fermented tang.

Yet it is, once again, the taste that I’m most interested in. And, while that taste is definitely one of aged scotch bonnet, salted to preserve it through the fermentation process, it’s also smooth and creamy. In part from its oil but also partially from the pale, lightly-flavoured root vegetable.

That radish, aged alongside the chillies, softens the intense flavour of those scotch bonnets and adds its own, rootier tones, umami and a slight green quality to the finish of this sauce.

It mellows out the Ooft! sauce and, alongside the garlic, adds a whole world of depth. Even if the peppery, somewhat fruity, red scotch bonnets, themselves, are still the main taste.

Plus, they really come through in the

4/11

Heat

of today’s product, as it grows in fast, tingling the tip of my tongue and providing a deep, dull burn across the roof of my mouth. The radish only adding, albeit minorly, to the already extra high strength.

At such a level, this definitely shouldn’t be anyone’s introduction to the scotch bonnet but, for those who are fans of the pepper, Ooft! provides a unique and delicious twist that, due to its blend of mellow, creamy qualities and spicy root flavours, will work just as well over roast beef, hot dogs and pepperoni pizza as it will stirred into soups or cooked into curry. Be that curry indian, caribbean or even japanese.

And heck, I’d throw it on morrocan roast veg or over a stir-fry, too. Though our second sauce may prove more fitting for that final setting.

Ooft! Chipotle Hot Sauce contains none of the radish from its scotch bonnet counterpart and, while it’s just as thin and just as texture-strewn, it pours very differently.

My guess would be that its extra sugar, in this version, that provides its stickier, more barbecue-style consistency but the ingredients lists don’t seem to support that theory.

Here’s what went into the original:

Scotch Bonnet Peppers (40%), Garlic, Daikon, Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, Rapeseed Oil

Whereas the chipotle contains:

Chipotle (22%), water, red wine vinegar, vinegar, garlic, sugar, salt, onion, spices

And, while both claim to be vegan, only the chipotle states itself “gluten free”.

Whatever the real difference behind their consistency is, though, it’s a problem. Because this sauce doesn’t pour anywhere near as well.

It clings to the neck, clogs the bottle and then all comes out at once, overflowing my spoon every single time.

But, I must say, I do love that colour – That glossy, dark, red-brown which instantly betrays its use of equally red, morita chipotle.

And it smells delightfully smoky, rich and almost mushroomy, too.

Yet, when it comes to the flavour, I’m not sold. I don’t actually like this one.

It’s rich, dark and, yes, very slightly mushroomy, with an almost coffee-like note to it, at first, before the smoke takes over. Yet its also a touch bitter, not the sweet barbecue that it looks like, and I definitely think that they’ve overdone the red wine vinegar.

It’s not tangy or acidic but astringent and cloying. The negative aspects of the tanins in red grapes, often concentrated when they’re fermented, which make red wine and balsamic vinegars something of a risky ingredient.

They’re great, when balanced with other acid sources, to keep the tanin concentration at a level which only provides dark berry richness. But Island Girl Ltd. haven’t quite got that balance right and, for me at least, it ruins their chipotle, rendering it only fit for use as an ingredient, elsewhere.

My suggestions for that being a soy-based dipping sauce or drizzle, a black bean marinade or a cooked in addition to the ever-popular con carne. Places where its powerful, fermented flavour can still seriously compliment the dish but there’s enough else going on to mask its less desireable qualities.

I just don’t know how well they’ll carry its lingering

2.5/11

Heat

in the throat.

So, in the end, I don’t think that I can recommend this chipotle sauce, even if it does have a great deal of good quality chipotle to it, simply because of how much extra work it’ll take to get best from it. But I can recommend its morita chillies and the red scotch bonnet sauce that was the company’s original.

That one’s a real goodie!

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