Hopping to It

Alright, everyone, you’ve heard of hot sauce but, today, we’re looking at hop sauce. A green and herby bird’s eye blend from Hop Burns & Black. The most well known chilli retailer in london.

I picked up a few things, when I was last there, but today’s “Hoptimo” is special. Not just because it contains hops but also because it’s a custom creation from Slow Richie’s and Brick Brewery, made specially for the store. This is a Hop Burns exclusive:

Hoptimo

But it does, indeed, contain hops. The signature ingredient in one of the shop owners’ other passions: Craft beer.

And, in this review, we’re going to find out what those hops do for hot sauce flavour.

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Hot & Bothered

It’s my birthday again! Today, I turn twenty-seven and, like every other year, I rate some extract sauces. Ultra-hot chilli products that surpass the natural limits of my scale by using a chemical concentrate of chilli’s capsaicin.

So, while I would normally bring you a recipe post on a weekend, like this, I’m putting my cooking on hold for a bonus review of my annual suffering.

Yet I have something a little different for you, this year. A sauce that comes not from an artisan chilli company but from the garlic specialists of the Isle of Wight:

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The Garlic Farm’s fang melting “Vampire Botherer” – To my knowledge, the only ever craft sauce to blend green chilli and chilli extract.

It’s not going to be as insane as today’s other item, given that a mere tenth of a percent of it is actually capsaicin concentrate, but I feel like its uniqueness is worth addressing, before I dive head first into the real deep end of the Five Finger Death Punch.

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Not So Great Ape

Happy tuesday again, everyone. It’s been over a year since I last mentioned today’s company but their name is one that I’ll never forget and their marmalade was darn good as well.

This week, The Chillees – Nick and Francine Lee’s punny little business – makes its return to my table with their Orangatongue Tingler.

OrangatongueTingler

An orange habanero sauce that their three out of five rating suggests may, in fact, be more than just a tongue tingler.

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Garlic & Herb

Greetings again, everyone. It’s the weekend, oncemore, and time for another recipe.

This one, like many of my recent uploads, was something of a spur of the moment decision. Which is a pleasant example of how this year’s “mini recipe” focus has changed the way I work. I have a lot more freedom to post simple recipes and the occasional adaptation of a previous dish (like last week’s blueberry vindaloo), most of which would never have graced my site before. It’s somewhat liberating and I hope that you lot enjoy it as much as I do. Feel free to drop a comment down below or hit up my contact page if you have anything to say about the matter.

Today, though, my simple recipe isn’t even my own. It’s a collaboration with a friend of mine who was convinced that I was making garlic bread wrong and just had to prove it.

Personally, I still disagree. Garlic bread doesn’t need herbs or spices to be enjoyable. You can turn a baguette into something wonderful with just garlic and butter.

His herbs and peppers were far from necessary but, in the end, they were also far from unwelcome. If basic garlic bread is a wonderful treat, his french herb and mixed chilli twist is pure bliss. A far more nuanced flavour with all the same garlic punch as before, alongside that touch of heat that we all crave.

For the maybe five minutes of extra preparation time, the difference that my friend’s additions made were utterly unbelievable. And he has no problem with me sharing what he did.

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Vin D’ Blue

Greetings, hot things. This week, I’m back for another fiery twist on a traditional recipe but, this time, the traditional recipe is my own. My vin d’ aloo. I’m returning to that recipe, and to Exban’s place, to put a newer, bluer twist on it, using this sauce:

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Bravado Spice Co’s Ghost Pepper and Blueberry.

Why? Because the two are a perfect match. A sauce that’s full of dark berry tanins and pepper but has a tad too much vinegar tang, and a curry that wants more fire and a wine-like flavour but previously wasn’t the most religiously appropriate of dishes.

The sauce gives the curry all the depth and slight fruitiness that it needs without actual alcohol, while the curry gives the sauce a highly spiced base to tone down its unpleasant acidity.

All that’s left is to swap from pork to a more halal meat in lamb.

I will mention, though, just to be completely upfront and clear with you all, that this dish will still be only debatably halal. The vinegar in our sauce comes from white wine and, while it has been fermented to a point where it no longer has any chance of affecting one’s sobriety, some muslims may still be upset by the idea of alcohol byproducts in their food.

I’m sorry to say that makers and eaters of this recipe will have to assess the situation themselves and make their own decision as to whether my recipe matches their beliefs. All I can say for sure is that making vin d’ aloo with wine vinegar, rather than wine, has a historic and religious precedent behind it and that the added berries in this sauce make for a far more accurate flavour substitution than simply using such a vinegar alone.

It’s not going to be the same as our previous dish, of course, since this vinegary sauce adds rather more heat and tang, but it’s still going to be a fiery-flavoured, garlic and ginger-heavy, goan delight full of red meat, rich berry undertones and soothing spuds. A proper vindaloo, despite the extra acid.

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Autumn Sunshine

Hello again, folks, it’s time for a bit of sunshine. Opal Sunshine.

Today, we have the first of the sauces that she sent me and, in my mind at least, it makes sense to start with her first. Her original.

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And, while I will talk about its packaging later on in this post, I want to talk about that name a little more before I do so. About what “Original habanero pepper sauce” suggests to me and how its flavour defies all expectation.

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The True Vindaloo

Hey there spice lovers, this month I’m hanging out at my buddy Exban’s place for a nice romantic wine and dine.

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Why? Partially because his girlfriend dumped him but mostly because I felt like making a proper vindaloo and needed someone to finish off the booze with. An explanation that, if anything, only raises more questions.

Since when did a vindaloo have wine in it? Why is there alcohol in an indian dish when the nation’s religions are so against it? And why can’t I drink it all myself?

Well, for starters, the vindaloo, or vin d’ aloo, isn’t an indian dish. It comes from goa and uses indian spices, certainly, but goa wasn’t a part of india at the time. Goa was officially portuguese and portuguese cooking had no such anti-alcohol restrictions. They were more than happy to be working with wine.

Their earlier dish, the “carne de vinha d’alhos” from which the vindaloo was derived, got its name from its three key ingredients: Pork, wine and garlic. Three ingredients to which the goan people added coriander, turmeric, chilli and a whole host of other spices, along with potatoes to bulk it out and keep the heat from getting too high.

Because, unlike today’s vindaloo, their vin d’ aloo wasn’t meant to be the hottest dish on any menu. All they wanted was a full-on fiery flavour to their marinated meat.

And, while even most “traditional” recipes pull from a later date, once the wine had been swapped for vinegar, I’m going to be taking it right back to its origins, today, with a rich and fruity red wine.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

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A Salty Showdown

Happy tuesday again, folks. Today, it’s time for some seasoning.

Chilli salts, instead of sauces, this week and both from companies that we know well.

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The Mini Jar Company on the left, makers of salsa, chutney and a great, fiery peanut butter, making their return with an aji lemon (or lemondrop) sea salt.

And, on the right, Wiltshire Chilli Farm, sporting the same brown action lines that we saw on their Dark Habanero sauce for a chipotle salt. A product that promises to be a massive step down in heat from both that and 🔥 the last two items that I had from them 🔥.

Two rather different product flavours – One bright and citrusy and the other rich and smoky – but a single product type all the same.

Let’s see what I make of them.

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Herby Mahi

Happy tuesday again, folks. Today, it’s time for another golden brown sauce.

Yet this isn’t another mustard one like earlier this month. No, today we’re looking at the last of Mahi’s table sauces and it’s a more traditional, peri peri sort.

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Their Peri Peri Herb Sauce, with a claimed heat intensity of medium.

I’ve been putting it off because it didn’t look or sound like anything special but actually, upon tasting it, I think I might have unwittingly saved their best for last.

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Last Chance

The time has come, spice lovers, for the third and final one of the East Coast Chilli Co sauces I was given. It’s the one I didn’t choose myself and therefore, naturally, the least out there of the bunch.

Yet that also means that it’s the one with broadest appeal. Their best seller. Their “Chance”.

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This one bears a second great taste award and even places it on its printed label, either side of its three out of five pitchfork rating. A rating that puts it slap bang in between their other two, heat-wise, and is reinforced by the word “medium” beneath it in all caps.

It’s apparently the company’s most popular product. A garlic, habanero and tomato based sauce, which sounds like nothing out of the ordinary, but, trust me, it still holds its fair share of surprises.

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