Loitering in the pantry the other afternoon, desperately seeking inspiration, my mind wandered. As I peered into the recess of tinned tomatoes and long forgotten jars of sandwich pickles it occurred to me that, despite the mundane standard of my non-perishable stockpile, my life was really rather saucy.
Yep – pretty darn hot and saucy.
You see, between the pantry and the refrigerator, I had counted nine different incarnations of chilli sauce. Man alive! Where did they all come from? There must have been a salacious chilli sauce procreation programme happening on the top shelf of my pantry, right? Because that’s a rational explanation for such an overabundance…
Or, did I buy all of them?
Surely not … not possible.
Is it getting hot in here?
I gathered my chilli sauces and lined them up along the length of the kitchen bench, like colourful toy soldiers on parade. I then inspected my chilli sauce corps looking for the discernible points of difference. There was a lot of red, yellow and green and every bottle contained at least chilli, vinegar and salt. Some of the saucy soldiers were still sealed; purchased on a foodie spree last time I was let loose in a gourmet deli, while others were revealing signs of an extended service, complete with sticky lids and manhandled labels with barely legible best before dates.
Below is a complete list of the chilli sauces currently taking refuge in my pantry and refrigerator. Two of them have questionable best before dates, but I am in favour of keeping this gang of nine together to enjoy their subtle variances at my own peril.
Over the coming weeks, I have committed to consuming at least one type of chilli sauce every day – whether it’s with Mexican Eggs for breakfast, in mayonnaise on my Chicken Sandwich or on top of comforting Nasi Goreng. I will be one hot chilli woman – hopefully without recurring reflux from my current lack of conditioning in the chilli sauce eating realm. Either way, this daily chilli encounter will be a gentle reminder that my life is pretty darn hot and saucy.
1. TABASCO PEPPER SAUCE – UNITED STATES
Tabasco sauce was first produced by Edmund McIlhenny in 1868 and is the earliest recognisable brand in the hot sauce industry. Use: Bloody Mary, duh?
2. AYAM THAI SWEET CHILLI SAUCE – THAILAND
Yes. I do admit to having some of this stuff in my collection, though it’s not for dipping deep fried cocktail spring rolls or chicken goujons. Use: The through the roof sugar content of this sauce gives sticky caramelisation to meaty marinades.
3. LINGHAM’S CHILLI SAUCE – MALAYSIA
This is the first Asian style chilli sauce that I can remember buying. Lingham’s has been manufactured since 1908 and is now a common household sauce. Use: As a condiment on Fried Rice, Stir Fries or on my favourite charred rice noodles – Char Kway Teow.
4. BLUE KITCHEN GOURMET FOODS HARISSA – AUSTRALIA
Harissa hails from North Africa and is a versatile paste made from chilli, roasted capsicum, preserved lemon, coriander, garlic, oil, salt and spices. Use: As a condiment, to baste meat or add it to stews, soups and couscous.
5. SRI RACHA – THAILAND (or is it?!)
Rooster Sauce. Cock sauce. Call it what you will, Sri Racha is hipster sauce right now. Maybe it will help you grow a beard? Use: #eggs #congee #mayo #thaifood #burgers #grilledcheese
6. MELBOURNE HOT SAUCE TOMATILLO AND JALAPENO – AUSTRALIA
Made in St Kilda from tomatillo, jalapeno, vinegar, coriander, lime, garlic, cumin and salt. Use: It’s sweet with a mild kick so put it on anything Mexican and eggs – better still – Mexican eggs!
7. MELBOURNE HOT SAUCE CHIPOTLE AND CAYENNE – AUSTRALIA
A far cry from ETA Barbeque Sauce. It’s made from chipotle (smoke-dried jalapeno chilli), cayenne, vinegar, spices, sugar and salt. Use: I haven’t tasted it yet – it still has its wrapper! I’m thinking of meat though.
8. THREE BANDITS SALSA VERDE – UNITED STATES
So I bought this one purely for the bottle with a bandito hat for a cap. How cool is it? It tastes good too. Use: Definitely with eggs and add to guacamole and dips.
9. BYRON BAY CHILLI CO. FIERY COCONUT CHILLI SAUCE – AUSTRALIA
Made just up the road! Its sweet, sour, salty and spicy. Use: A winning all rounder.