Warning: contents are seriously hot and saucy!

Now, having successfully debased myself by tabloidising the blog I want to assure you that this post is morally sound. I am, of course, going to be talking about chilli sauces today. If you came here for something a little less savoury (no pun intended) then the jokes on you because even if you leave now, I’ve still got another hit. If on the other hand, you, like me, need nothing more than some soft focus pictures of spicy condiments to get you going then I can offer you both real, spicy, heat and the more metaphorical and almost equally as satisfying heat of foodporn (incidentally there is a foodporn website which I recommend for those long nights alone – here).

I had a few vouchers for Valvona and Crolla (the original Italian deli in Edinburgh for those not in the know) this week and I decided to top up my hot-box. I have been on a hunt recently, with a seemingly insatiable thirst, for the hottest chilli sauces, pastes and jams I can find. I love a bit of chilli and will order the hottest dishes I can get my hands on. It is now bordering on an obsession and so I have decided to write about it because I heard somewhere that admission is the first step (towards what?). This post, then, is a run through the bits and pieces which currently make up the hot-box with a review of each. I will also add a recipe for your own Thai birdseye chilli sauce which I resorted to making in order that it might be hot enough.

Hot Box Contents

Hot Box Contents

These are the current contents of my hot-box and this only really covers half the hot sauces brands etc I’ve tried. I still haven’t quite found the kind of mind-blowing stuff I’m after but some of these are a good start. I’m going to taste them all individually now: a teaspoon of each. I’ll let the heat develop and subside before taking a mouthful of milk and a dry cracker to kill the burn and cleanse my palate between each. I’ll be marking each condiment out of 10 on both heat (1 being an arctic winter and 10 being like reading 50 shades of grey whilst watching fellini) and flavour (1 being something found on the floor and 10 being something you’d happily lick off the floor) so the final score will be an aggregate of these two categories (a possible 20).

Might as well get cracking:

  • Encona West Indian Original Hot Pepper Sauce
Encona West Indian Original Hot Pepper Sauce

Encona West Indian Original Hot Pepper Sauce

This sauce from Encona has the mildest heat which is surprising being made from habanero and scotch bonnet. It’s a wee bit nippy at first but dies quickly giving way to a slight throb but very little overall. The flavour is good with a fair bit of spice action though so well worth a punt. It’s also easily available from most supermarkets which is a plus.

Heat: 5   Flavour: 7    Total: 12

  • Eaton’s Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce
Eaton's Jamaican scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce

Eaton’s Jamaican scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce

A very fruity sauce with a slow build in heat but, ultimately, a slightly disappointing climax (smutty doublentendre for further tabloid effect). This sauce, as the name would suggest, is a scotch bonnet blend and has a strong chilli flavour which would imply a good amount of real pepper has gone in (rather than extract). There is, however, a slightly over-vinegary note which I’m not massively keen on.

Heat: 6   Flavour: 5   Total: 11

  • Dalgety West Indian “Extra Extra Hot” Pepper Sauce
Dalgety West Indian "Extra Extra Hot" Pepper Sauce

Dalgety West Indian “Extra Extra Hot” Pepper Sauce

A slightly bitter sauce with an instant hit of heat which subsides almost as quickly as it comes. This one says “recommended only for persons capable of consuming – EXTREMELY HOT PEPPER!” on the side but I have to be honest, this sauce barks like an Alsation but bites like an old toothless Labrador. Perhaps I am being overly harsh because of the macho tone of the bottle but the sauce needs to live up to the task you’ve set on the label… this does not.

Heat: 5   Flavour: 4   Total: 9

  • Tabasco Brand Habanero Sauce
Tabasco Brand Habanero Sauce

Tabasco Brand Habanero Sauce

Ahhh, Tabasco. A classic chilli sauce. This is the hottest of the Tabasco brand – made from habanero peppers as opposed to the regular sauce which is made from the considerably milder Tabasco pepper. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve had a fair bit of chilli already but I can feel this behind my eyes and it’s the first sauce that’s given me a beaded brow and a bit of a runny nose. The flavour is great with a whole load of ingredients including garlic, mango and Banana(!?). This is the most readily available sauce in my hot-box too.

Heat: 7   Flavour: 9   Total: 16

  • Mrs Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa
Mrs Renfro's Ghost Pepper Salsa

Mrs Renfro’s Ghost Pepper Salsa

because this is a salsa it’s much more flavoursome than the others and has great juicy lumps (more of the smut) in it. The heat is a bit disappointing really considering there are ghost peppers in (the ingredients reveals only 1% with 7% jalapenos). It is still adequate though with the longest burn so far and would make a good addition to a burger or nachos.

Heat: 6  Flavour: 8   Total: 14

  • Hot-Headz Whole Dried Chipotle Chillies
Hot-Headz Whole Dried Chipotle Chillies

Hot-Headz Whole Dried Chipotle Chillies

Now, I obviously haven’t stuffed a dried chilli in my mouth but I did grind some and add them to a packet of fajita spices (lazy cooking FTW) and they made such a difference! I reckon they’d also improve a chilli con carne or any Mexican dish. Chipotle are smoked jalapeno chillis so they don’t pack a massive punch but they make up for that in flavour. These are cracking chillis and can be bought in Valvona and Crollas or online. I recommend you go out and buy some of these now.

Heat: 5   Flavour:  8   Total: 13

  • Hot-Headz Naga Deadly Hot Chilli Sauce
Hot-Headz Naga Deadly Hot Chilli Sauce

Hot-Headz Naga Deadly Hot Chilli Sauce

The hottest chilli variety in the world is reputedly the Naga. This is made from Naga chillis.

As is the character of Naga chillis, the heat in this grows slowly and steadily until my eyes are throbbing slightly again and I can feel the burn on my lips and throat. I have a slight sweat on and I’m enjoying the heat on this one. It’s not killing me but it’s pretty bloody hot. The flavour is not particularly strong but there is a good taste of ginger and garlic in there. This is a pretty good sauce!

Heat: 8  Flavour: 7  Total:15

  • Cambridge Chilli Farm Nagalade
Cambridge Chilli Farm Nagalade

Cambridge Chilli Farm Nagalade

with the heat of the last sauce still playing around the edges of my lips we meet the Naga again. Nice one…

This is a chilli jam made up with Naga chillis in big chunks. I just got one. The flavour’s good, if a little sweet, and the heat is solid. Just like the last sauce, the heat grows to a climax which I’d imagine could strip paint. This is not for the faint hearted! The chunks hang around in my mouth a bit because it’s sticky and it’s hard to escape the burn. This is the stuff!

Heat: 9 (always room to improve)  Flavour: 8   Total: 17

  • Ruari’s Thai Birdseye Chilli Sauce
Ruari's Thai Birdseye Chilli Sauce

Ruari’s Thai Birdseye Chilli Sauce

This is my own sauce and it draws on Thai flavours to make a slightly different sauce. The heat is fairly medium and after the last two is actually soothing. I will add the recipe for this below because it’s nice to make your own.

Heat: 5   Flavour: 10 (obviously)  Total: 15

I’ve now eaten quite a lot of chilli and I have a fair sweat on as well as a pair of tingling lips (enough!). I am also feeling pretty euphoric which makes sense because chilli releases endorphins. I also feel like it might hurt later on.

I hope you manage to get your hands on some good chilli sauces and if you have any recommendations I’d love to hear them!

  • Ruari’s Thai Birdseye Chilli Sauce
  1. 10 green birdseye chillis – chopped
  2. Bunch of coriander
  3. Three cloves of garlic
  4. Two inch piece of Ginger
  5. Half an onion finely sliced
  6. Three tbsp of Thai fish sauce
  7. 150ml of white rice vinegar (or distilled malt vinegar)

– place all ingredients in a pan and boil  for 5 minutes

– cool and blend until smooth

– pour into a sterilised bottle and seal

This sauce keeps for ages because of the vinegar. Add more or less chilli depending on your taste.


Some summer foodie happenings.

I have finally returned from a mega-busy summer and I fully intend to tighten up my blogging discipline… starting by posting on the wrong day. Ach well, at least I’m getting something up eh? Since the last post I have been on Tiree in the Inner Hebrides and in Thurso, as well as Foodies Festival in Edinburgh. It’s been a busy time and I haven’t always had access to internet. With a bit of time I will hopefully get a bit better at using the scheduled post function.

Anyway, I thought I’d try to condense all that into a single post about the last wee while told through food.

Tiree was phenomenal! The weather was amazing and we spent most days biking around the island and swimming in the sea (not to mention watching all the Olympics that we could get our eyes on!). Take my advice on this one and visit if you get a chance, if you like the outdoors you won’t be disappointed. We ate well with different teams cooking food each night and a mega BBQ to finish the week. I had such a good time that I forgot to take any photos of food and so unfortunately you’ll just have to use your imagination.

In between Tiree and Thurso we went to Foodies Festival in Inverleith park in Edinburgh. Following the standard food festival format of producers’ stands, chefs demonstrations and plenty opportunity to eat and drink everything from the best of Scottish cheese and fresh local bread to oysters and champagne. I achieved a long-awaited foodie first and knocked back a big ol’ oyster with a touch of Tabasco, fully expecting it to be foul. I couldn’t have been more wrong; the ozone freshness with the heat of the chilli was a delight and a few chews of the salty-sweet flesh later it was gone and I was converted. Also, luckily, the aphrodisiac effect didn’t seem to grab me and I was able to carry on enjoying the festival without any lascivious episodes.

It was great to see so many local producers showcasing the freshest quality ingredients. A personal highlight was fresh smoked kippers:

Upright smoke cabinet

Upright smoke cabinet

Pictured above is an upright cabinet but we ate kippers from an even more traditional smoker dug deep into the ground and covered with wet burlap sacks:

Traditional underground smoker

Traditional underground smoker

The fish was beautifully tender and naturally oily. Real smoked fish doesn’t have that acrid flavour or ungodly yellow colour that you get from the artificial rubbish so get your chops round the good stuff if you’ve got the option.

Whilst at the festival we did a Malasian cooking class for free which included two dishes and provided a tasty and thrifty lunch-time meal. I’m including the recipe here and I recommend it highly. We used a special piece of kit for the pancakes but if you move quickly enough in tight spirals you could probably use a piping bag on the thinnest nozzle you’ve got.

Malaysian chicken curry and crispy spiral pancakes

Malaysian chicken curry and crispy spiral pancakes

Here’s a pic of Norman Musa and me with his book Malaysian Food: A Selection of My Favourite Dishes and The Inspiration Behind Them: 

Norman Musa

Norman Musa

Finally we nipped up to Thurso to visit family. My auntie Ros has just opened a lovely wee tea room called Cups selling some of the best cakes and traybakes around! Cups is the culmination of a lifetime of amateur baking and the baked goods are a clear indication of this commitment. The ethos of the cafe is right up my street too: local produce, high quality ingredients and a bit of fun with flavours. The Haggis and cheddar toasted sandwich on fresh Orkney corn bread hits the spot and the homemade soups will warm the bones after a brisk stroll along the beach to the beautiful ex-chapel which houses Cups. The cake and traybake selection is vast and the variety means that there’s something for every palate from the sumptuously fruity paradise slice or the coconut and cherry sponge to brownies or scones with homemade jam and clotted cream.

Cups' cakes

Cups’ cakes

I was pleased to see that my great granny Isabella’s gingerbread had made it onto the menu and the malty treacly sponge was an absolute delight spread thick with butter on the 8 hour train back down. It even made Scotrail’s instant ‘coffee’ bearable. This is not (just) a shameless nepotistic plug, Cups is a real gem!

Now that I’m back I’ll try to keep to more regular posts and I promise to put up a proper recipe tomorrow for you to get cracking with. until then…