Spicy food in America is becoming more and more popular as more immigrants from more spice oriented cuisines are promoting their dishes while big fast food chains are trying to cash in on Millennials’ taste buds tuned into more spicy food like Wendy’s ghost pepper fries or Jack In The Box’s Sriracha burger to name a few new products. However, my love for spicy food runs in my veins from an unexpected source: my dad. For the longest time, I’ve remembered him unscrewing the tops of red pepper flake containers at pizzerias or hearing from my mom’s Pakistani coworker that she has never seen a white man eat such spicy food. While I liked peppers to a certain extent, I didn’t have the same penchant for colon scorching levels of heat. As I got older, I grew into my tastebuds and quickly realized that I could not only consume mouth-numbing food but also enjoy it (aside from the morning after). I made it my point to try super spicy foods whenever I had the chance, and it has taken me on some unique adventures close to home and others a bit further in Korea and Portland, to name a few locations. Not only have I been to some interesting food challenges, I’ve become a bit of a chili sauce aficionado. So I am writing these new posts to highlight the new hot sauces I’ve tried.
Today’s entry is from the Yucateco hot sauce company, i.e. my favorite hot sauce company. While I thought there only existed one type, the green habanero, little did I know there was an entire hot sauce universe out there waiting to be discovered. This realization happened right by my girlfriend’s apartment, where I found an entire wall of hot sauce just waiting to be sampled. I scoped out the bottles for my beloved green Yucateco only to find it had five other brothers waiting next to him. I picked one up that said “Mayan Kutbil-Ik Sauce”. “Yucateco” in Spanish refers to anything coming from the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico which is also where the Mayan civilization flourished before the arrival of the Spanish in the 15th Century. Therefore, the Mayan recipe is the ultimate homage to the region, and the name of the sauce, Kutbil-Ik, in the modern Mayan language Nahuatl means “crushed chili”. So, when I first got the bottle home to douse my tacos with a proper hot sauce, I expected a mini-apocalypto in my mouth. However, when the mottled brown sauce tumbled out onto my plate, I could immediately smell a smoky scent with citrus notes wafting off the sauce. My first bite hit my palate with a habanero punch that washed from the tip of my tongue to the back of my throat. Heat in food is normally measured in Scoville units named after Wilbur Scoville who developed the measurement scale. The spice is measured in relation to how much capsicum or the chemical compound found in nature that imparts the spiciness to peppers. Bell peppers have 0 Scoville units and pure capsicum has 16,000,000 Scovile units. This means that pure capsicum has to be diluted 16,000,000 times until there is no detectable spiciness, but obviously this is a very objective system based on peoples’ tolerances. The new high pressure method is much more scientific though. The Kutbil-Ik sauce has roughly 11,600 Scoville units, so to put that in perspective a jalapeno pepper is 2,500-5,000 units. Basically, if you’re not a chili-head, prepare to get lit up like a bonfire. If you are experienced, you’ll find the burn to be fast and furious, but then oddly absent over the long term. However, it not all spice as I encountered the same smokey, slightly garlicky, and super toned down lime tones I smelled from the outset. It really made my meal pop, but it wasn’t the best sauce I’ve ever had.
Overall: 7/10 A middle of the road habanero sauce that’s good around the house, but is not the be all, end all of hot sauces.