The world’s favourite hot breakfast condiment, Tabasco, recently turned 150 and in celebration Tabasco-makers McIlhenny has released the Diamond Reserve. The small-batch offering is lauded as the champagne of hot sauce and even comes in a slick black bottle with gold-foil top. It will set you back R440 a pop, roughly the price of a cheap bottle of actual champagne.
Not only is the bottle really elegant, the contents, we hear, are just as special. The reserve sauce is made from only the finest peppers, harvested from a small batch growing on Avery Island in Louisiana in the US, the home of Tabasco. These peppers were aged for 15 years before being blended with sparkling-wine vinegar and bottled. It’s really exclusive stuff that’s available only online. Fear not, however, as we’ve put together a list of our other favourite fiery sauces, all of them readily available from most big-city delis.
HUY FONG SRIRACHA
This vibrant red sauce named after the Thai region of Si Racha belongs on any self-respecting foodie’s shelf. Some say the basic recipe of a paste made from chillies pounded together with salt, vinegar, and sugar was created by a Thai housewife in the 1930s, while others attribute it to a bunch of Burmese sawmill workers. There are different brands, but bright-red Huy Fong Sriracha, the name available here, is unmistakable in its clear bottle with the green cap and rooster logo.
Flavour: The original is spicy with just enough sweetness and a tangy garlic kick. Variations include garlic and extra hot. Can be overpowering.
Good with… soups and toast piled with avo and soft-poached eggs
LOUISIANA’S PURE CRYSTAL HOTSAUCE
Crystal Hotsauce is what you expect to find at the quintessential American barbeque you see in the movies. The light-red sauce is made from aged red cayenne pepper, vinegar, and salt. It was first made in Louisiana in 1923 and has been made in this US state ever since, save for a brief period during the Second World War, when the company focused on producing preserves for military rations for its troops. Now the 11-million litres it produces annually get shipped around the world. It’s apparently especially beloved by Saudi Arabians (and now, possibly you.)
Flavour: A nice straightforward sauce of pepper and vinegar, nothing too crazy, and very versatile.
Good with… fried chicken and cheese-covered carbs of any kind
CHILLI ADDICT SAUCES
Founded in Cape Town in 1994, Cape Herb & Spice produces some of our pantry favourites and has an entire range of sauces covering every degree of hotness you can imagine. The fire in every flask is rated on a scale printed on the label. There’s the easy-going 4/10 jalapeño and coriander sauce that works well with tacos, and then there’s the Nagaland Ghost, which will drop even some of the braver of souls at the 12/10 scale. What’s more, it’s “free from nasties” and helps create local jobs for many talented women.
Flavour: There are many, but we would suggest using several sauces from the range to round out your collection. Looking for more garlic? Give the Korean sauce a try.
Good with… your mother-in-law’s cooking