When Dragon Meets Tiger

Dydd mawrth da, annwyl ddarllenwyr. Do you remember the dragon’s breath chilli?

Well, as it turns out, that pepper wasn’t nearly as welsh as my opening sentence. Or as the guy who named it.

It may have been presented to the world by a welsh gardener, named Mike Smith, but its actual grower was a Neal Price, from nottingham, who runs Chilli Bobs. A company that I know from this year’s lunar new year feature, among other items, and one who’ve given me something new and special to show you, this week. Bred from that infamous strain of theirs.

This is the Chimera Chilli Sauce – named for its new, hybrid pepper – and it’s made from very little else. Yet its flavour still excites me, because of how much I enjoyed the dragon’s breath, last time, and how its colour is unlike anything that I’ve tried before.

It contains:

Spirit Vinegar, Chimera Chillies, Xantham gum

And we can see a small shot of those chillies, slightly under-ripe, down in the bottom right corner of its label. Right beside a happy, waving cartoon of Neal, himself.

From that image, it would seem as though the chimera were a red pepper. Yet there’s nothing else in this sauce to produce the unusual peachy colour, which we see through the glass. And the pink and purple background on this bottle only further emphasise how much that colour stands out.

Whatever this chilli actually is, it’s not the simple, creased ghost that its photo might suggest. But it is well-represented by the label’s third and final image, placed either side of the company name. A small set of layered silhouettes, featuring a dragon, a snake and a goat, to reference the three creatures from which the original chimera was formed.

I really appreciate that little nod to the classic, greek myth and how it subtly differentiates today’s bottle from the rest of the Chilli Bobs range. Though it still doesn’t give me much to go on, regarding the product’s flavour.

The blurb on its side says “fruity” but I doubt that it’s as much so as all of the actual fruitbased sauces that we’ve been looking at lately. And there’s nothing more specific to be found, in text or imagery, anywhere else on the bottle. Only a warning that this sauce is “VERY HOT”.

So I guess it’s time for me to put that to the test and try a spoonful:

It’s a tiny bit more pink, outside of the bottle, and seems to contain some rather unexpected shreds of red – Further muddling the question of its colour – but the heat and flavour are everything that Neal claimed.

His Chimera sauce is ferociously hot, coming in with a ghost-like strength in my mouth, before growing to a crazy

throat fire that stings, yet not in the same, sadistic manner as The Somerset Chilli Co.’s roasted reaper product. I can actually enjoy this burn, despite its higher intensity, and the long delay before the chillies reach full force lets me savour their taste.

A taste that isn’t quite the dried raspberry of the dragon’s breath but, instead, reminds me of nectarines. Especially when combined with the vinegar’s tang.

It’s sharp, yet sweet, with clear elements of a soft-fleshed stone fruit. And, while that fruitiness definitely comes from its dragons breath heritage, I can taste its other parent in it, too.

The pale pink tiger, which I tried in an earlier Chilli Bobs item, isn’t my favourite of superhots but here its bitterness is masked by the sweetness of the dragon’s and its fragrant, white naga undertones add a subtle extra complexity to the new chimera chilli.

This hybrid is delicious and, in a more concentrated sauce, I could easily see it rivalling the hottest of reaper products.

Today’s, however, falls just a little bit short of being world record level and is quite thin and vinegar forward. So it’s not going to be for everyone but, personally, I very much enjoy splashing it over my rice, eggs, noodles and fish. Or using it in place of sweeter, thai-style dipping sauces, for prawns and spring rolls.

If you’re interested in its new chilli, it’s well worth a try. But also, you might want to keep an eye on my new encyclopedia page for it, to see what else it works its way into, in the future.

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