Welcome to another Mastication Monologues post! Before I begin, I’d like to recommend a food website that I have been a part of since the outset of my blog, but it has changed in many ways. While there are lots of websites for restaurant recommendations like Yelp or Trip Advisor, I’d like to make a case for Zomato. It is similar to the aforementioned websites, but it also integrates other apps like Google Maps and Uber if you need a ride to your restaurant. I’m currently the number 8th ranked foodie in Chicago and my blog is number two on their list out of hundreds as noted on the side of my blog, so I highly recommend it for new and seasoned bloggers as well if you’re looking for a platform to launch your brand like I did years ago with Urbanspoon. Anyway, foodie promotion over. Let’s get back to the food!
Today’s post is another ode to one of the greatest culinary inventions in human history: hot sauce. While there are millions of different blends of peppers and ingredients that range from the sweet to savory to Manhattan Project levels of spice, I cannot get enough of these condiments. I only recently decided to showcase my love for burning my tastebuds with reviews of my latest hot sauce adventures (See post #1 here). So, I would like to let you know about a great discovery I made this past week: Tropical Pepper Company’s ghost pepper sauce. I picked it up from the local grocery store’s hot sauce wall that I’m slowly but surely working my way through, but I’m sure you could find it in any grocery store that has a substantial Latin American section. I also chose this sauce at the recommendation of a fellow chili head who works at the store who highlighted the sauce’s ability to scorch your mouth with both heat and flavor. Naturally, it piqued my interest. Looking over the bottle, there were plenty of warning signs of the potency of the sauce. From the skeletal remains of the toucan to the “More than one drop is suicide” warning on the upper label, it all made me all the warier based on previous history with this creation of the devil in the USA and overseas. Oh yeah, and this quaint description on the back. The Naga/Bhut/Bih Jolokia pepper originates from the far eastern regions of India and also Bangladesh. It was once considered the hottest pepper in the world at 800,000 to 1,000,000 Scoville units of spiciness which made me skeptical of the number given on the back of the bottle as only 500,000 Scoville units. To give you an idea of spice, a typical jalapeno pepper is around 10,000 Scoville units. My following experience could only be summed up by Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk, “Too hot! Hot damn!”. The name either comes from the fierce Naga warriors of Nagaland or Bih comes from Assamese for “poison” since its so hot. As for the origin of the more popular “ghost” name, athe home of the Bhut Jolokia website provides this explanation, “The word Bhut, given from the Bhutias people, means “ghost” and was probably given the name because of the way the heat sneaks up on the one who eats it”. This was surprisingly accurate when I finally sampled the sauce. When I opened the bottle to drizzle on some tacos, I sniffed it first to get a snoot full of slightly vinegary hints of fire. When I poured the candy apple red sauce on the tacos, it was more watery than I was expecting. Upon my first bite, I found it to compliment the taco contents with an initial subtle spice that almost had a jerk seasoning slant to it with a modicum of sweetness. However, as time went on, my appetite lit the fuse on this powderkeg of sauce. The heat kept on building and building to leave me with a constant layer of sweat on my brow and a noticeably higher level of salivation from the sheer heat in my mouth. Janice even told me that my lips and surrounding area was extremely red after enjoying this sauce, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I know it might seem weird, but I find pleasure in the afterburn in my mouth after eating a spicy sauce.
So here’s my general review of Tropical Pepper Company’s ghost pepper sauce:
Flavor: 8/10 Full of semi-sweet fruity and slightly smoky notes that are surprisingly for such a spicy sauce
Spice: 8/10 While the label is slightly misleading in terms of underestimating the heat, it has a good level of spice that sneaks up on you, but is manageable if you’re experienced with this type of firepower (pun intended)
Overall: 8/10 This is one of the best ghost pepper sauces I’ve ever tried, comparable to Jake Melnick’s XXX wings sauce, where there is a nice balance of both spice and flavor instead of just tongue melting heat.