Hey everyone, today we’re looking at some nerd sauce. Because, as a serious sauce nerd, how could I not give the new Nerd Sauce Co. a go?
Just like how Rad Dude Food‘s chilli concoction recently became their main focus, this company was born to help a bunch of chefs weather the chaos of the current pandemic. To bring their business into the online world and keep them employed, in this new, more digital age.
But where Nerd Sauce Co. differs is in what they make – A whopping twelve different sauces, only four of which are chilli, to the Rad Dude’s one. Is their quantity a detriment to their quality? I bought two of the most exciting flavours to find out.
What we have here are the company’s Kashmiri Chilli and Senor Padron. A pair of first ingredient pepper products with some very unique chilli choices: Indian kashmiri mirchi and spanish pimiento de padrón. Each contained within a beautiful, periodic table-themed, two-hundred and twenty mil bottle.
Neither is a mind-meltingly hot variety, so I was quite surprised to see both in their “nuclear” collection, but these are definitely the sort of strains that I can nerd out about. Bold-tasting, regional varieties with a long history and a specific place in their local cuisine.
The kashmiri mirchi is a relatively mild pepper, slightly weaker than your average jalapeño and bred for its colour intensity, more than anything else. It’s traditionally powdered and used in place of food dyes, to give a delightful redness to curries and meat skewers. Yet it also adds a recognisable dry spice and rich, slightly bitter, red pepper flavour. Perfect for those applications, as well as for offsetting the sweetness of certain desserts.
Whereas the pimiento de padrón – Literally padrón’s peppers – are native to the spanish region that shares their name and actually the hotter of today’s two chillies. Yet I expect them to make the weaker sauce because, as I’m sure you could see, they’ve been harvested green.
Red padróns do see occasional use, dried and powdered as a uniquely grapey paprika substitute, but they’re far more commonly picked early on in their life. Not just before they’ve ripened but also before they’ve developed most of their heat. Leading to the common nickname “russian roulette chillies”.
Padróns are traditionally eaten whole, simply fried in olive oil and salted, to bring out their delightfully nutty undertones. And, in most cases, they’re a pleasant, near-heatless tapas side or bar snack but, every once in a while, a slightly more developed pepper will slip through and hit you with the full heat of a fresh jalapeño. Or maybe even a little more.
That’s the risk that you take and I’m sure that wine merchants love the reaction but, given how mild the average padrón is, though, I’m not expecting much of a kick, today. All that I expect from Nerd Sauce’s Senor Padron is that delicious, nutty, roasted green chilli taste, which we saw slight hints of in Brighton Hot Stuff‘s Jalapeño sauce. The only other product to noticeably feature these peppers.
If Nerd Sauce Co. can bring that flavour to the fore then I’m going to absolutely love their creation. But is that the route that they’ve taken here?
The sauce looks quite peculiar, on my spoon. A dark, brownish-green, filled with bubbles because it’s thick, gummy texture won’t let the air from me shaking it back out. And, while that’s great if you want it to cling to meats, it’s otherwise not a very appetising consistency.
But appearances can be deceiving and, while it looks a lot like Mahi‘s Garlic Sauce or Morrison’s Ghost Pepper, it doesn’t feel as jellied on my tongue. In fact, aside from thick and smooth, it doesn’t feel like much.
It’s not gummy, it’s not got any small grains and, while I’m sure that it has some heat, I can only call it a
because I don’t feel a thing and nor do my more sensitive relatives.
This is not a hot sauce. If you’re here for the heat, Senor Padron is not for you. But, if that deep, nutty, roasted green chilli taste is what you’re after, Nerd Sauce Co. have hit it out of the park!
What this sauce is is pretty much just liquid padrón flavour and you can really tell that they’ve been fire-roasted to bring out their very best. In fact, they taste almost fermented, both in terms of how deep and full-bodied their flavour is and in terms of that slight bitter, aged-chlorophyll edge.
Yet, whether they are or not, you don’t have to worry unless you’re vegan. Because Nerd Sauce Co. have offset that touch of bitterness with a gentle honey sweetness. Which doubles as balance for the vinegar tang in the tail, too.
If there’s any real weakness to this product, it’s the fact that it’s just padrón and very little else but, at the same time, that’s also it’s greatest strength. And I love it. It’s exactly what I wanted my padrón sauce to be.
Whereas the kashmiri one, to be honest, doesn’t really impress me.
It’s consistency is much more liquid than the Senor Padron’s, to the point where it seems almost watery, by comparison. Yet it’s not completely so and it still somehow manages to float whole seeds beneath its surface, while also giving off an intense dried, red chilli smell.
One which matches its flavour very closely but misses a few small details, like the salt, tang and richness. Qualities that aren’t inherently bad, yet do seem to emphasise the worst of the sauce. That overly-processed, dried and anything but fresh chilli content.
Chilli which, once again, makes up practically all of the sauce’s flavour, yet fails to bring much heat to the table.
Nerd Sauce Co. do claim that the burn of their kashmiri chilli is “more than the industry standard” but that simply isn’t true. Not when I’m only getting a mild and disappointing
that’s as single note as its flavour, across the tip of my tongue.
For reference, here’s the full list of what goes into it but, honestly, only the first four really matter:
Kashmiri Dried Chillies, Erthyritol, Salt, Vinegar, Garlic, Onion, Carrot, Water.
The dried chilli provides most of the flavour, with hints of the salt and vinegar coming through behind, while the indigestible artificial sweetener doesn’t so much make the sauce sweet as just hide its natural bitterness.
Beyond that, nothing’s really coming through, for me. And certainly not the carroty freshness that I’ve mentioned in belizean product reviews.
No, this one reminds me more of the cheap sachets found at kebab shops – All chunky, dried and borderline artificial tasting, despite being very little but red pepper. It’s definitely not what I expect of a quality chilli condiment and it’s a far from the “step up from sriracha” that they say, as well. In heat or flavour.
Ultimately, I don’t enjoy it in the slightest and, while it is a little bit better over enchiladas or the previously mentioned kebabs, even those of you who enjoy such a seedy, dried chilli sauce are likely to have a better time ordering from your local döner place. And it’ll cost you far less to do so.
I can only recommend one of Nerd Sauce Co.’s creations, today, but boy can I recommend that one! Senor Padron is even less spicy than the kashmiri, making it borderline heatless, yet it’s also utterly delicious, with just as much focus on a far better tasting pepper. One that’s rich, nutty and oh so green, making it perfect for pizzas, mexican food, soups, stews and even cheese-heavy dishes, like my macaroni.
If you like the padrón pepper, or just green chilli in general, Senor Padron is definitely a must try. Here’s what went into it:
Padron Peppers, Honey, Salt,Vinegar, Garlic, Onion.
With nothing bolded on its bottle, despite the onions being so on their other sauce.
I’m quite confused as to why that would be, since onion doesn’t appear on any list of recognised allergens in the UK or in the US and, while that doesn’t mean that people can’t be allergic or intolerant to it, it does seem highly unlikely that those same people would be alright with the unbolded garlic. What with how closely related the two ingredients are.
But I guess that’s just one of the many weird marketing points on the kashmiri. At least that one isn’t actively lying to us, like their description of its heat…