FOR THOSE LIKE ME WHO THOUGHT SIRACHA WAS HOT

My friend Sophie Clinton, Sophie Clinton, Senior Digital PR Executive at The JBH: The Digital PR Agency sent me a fascinating research study from money.co.uk titled Searching for the Sauce

For those of us who like hot sauce, it a scientific study of the hottest chillis, their Scoville Hotness Units (SHUs), what foods go well with the heat and the peppers and other interesting facts. So before you add sprinkle any of the following on your food, read up.

1. Mad Dog 357 Plutonium No. 9 – 9,000,000 SHU
 

  • Plutonium Pepper Extract
  • 5,300
  • Do not consume directly, strictly a food additive only. 

The world’s hottest sauce is Mad Dog 357 Plutonium No. 9 and comes in at 9 million Scoville Hotness Units (SHUs).

To put that in perspective, pepper spray, the substance used to stop criminals, clocks in at around 5.3 million SHUs – 3,700,000 SHUs less than Mad Dog 357 Plutonium No. 9. 

Mad Dog 357 Plutonium No. 9 is also 60% pure capsicum, and comes in a solid form. In order to consume the fiery substance, you have to heat the sauce to 140 degrees Fahrenheit just to get it out of the bottle. 

2. El Yucateco Green Chile Habanero – 8,910 SHU

  • 8,910
  • Green habanero peppers
  • 11,000
  • Chicken, fries, eggs, pizza

El Yucateco is made with fresh habanero peppers, garlic, select spices and seasonings. This special mix of ingredients adds a homely and fresh flavor to dishes.

It is ideal to accompany any kind of food, but especially meat and cold dishes. You can even mix up your own spicy Guacamole with a few drops of this popular hot sauce.

The study revealed that hot sauce fans in the US were searching for the brand more than any other country, with 8,300 searches made each month by American foodies. Texas preferred El Yucateco over any other, and the sauce scored a respectable 8,910 SHUs.

3. Crystal Hot Sauce – 4,000 SHU


  • 4,000
  • cayenne peppers
  • 11,000
  • Sandwiches, eggs, chicken

The cayenne peppers in Crystal Hot Sauce have a Scoville rating of between 30,000 and 50,000, which makes them four to twenty times hotter than a jalapeño pepper. However, the sauce itself offers a comparatively mild heat of 2,000 to 4,000 SHUs. 

Aside from the peppers, Crystal Hot Sauce also contains distilled white vinegar that serves as a complement to the heat of the peppers. The last ingredient that makes up Crystal Hot Sauce is salt.

Hot sauce lovers in the US search for the brand around 10,000 times each month, with Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi all searching for the hot sauce the most. Louisiana topped the list with 646 monthly searches. 

4. Tapatío Hot Sauce – 3,000 SHU

    

  • red peppers
  • 1,200
  • Tacos, breakfast dishes, eggs

Tacos, breakfast dishes, eggs

Tapatio Hot Sauce entered the business world in 1971, and the condiment has come a long way since. A robust habanero sauce with great flavour that’s good for all round use.

Tapatío can be found in sizes ranging from individual packets to gallon-sized bottles and provides hot sauce fans with a kick at 3,000 SHUs. 

5. Sriracha Sauce – 2,200 SHU

Base Chilli: red jalapeño chili peppers

Pairs well with: Eggs, pizza, burgers, fries, hot dogs, sushi, chicken

Sriracha is arguably one of the most common varieties of hot sauces found in pantries the world over. The condiment is tasty, garlicky, and ultra versatile. 

Sriracha emerged as the most popular hot sauce in the world, according to the study by money.co.uk, with 77% of the countries included in the report searching for the spicy condiment more than any other. 

The US is searching for Sriracha the most, with 151,000 monthly searches being made for the condiment. That’s 5,033 London bus passengers worth each month.

This is followed by spice lovers in both the UK and Australia, searching for Sriracha 55,000 and 23,000 times per month, respectively.

6. Cholula Hot Sauce – 1,000 SHU

Arbol and piquin peppers

Pizza, sandwiches, tacos, burgers

The product is packaged in a glass bottle with a distinctive round wooden cap. Six varieties of Cholula are widely marketed in North America and the brand can be found in almost every Mexican restaurant. The sauce is satisfyingly hot with ingredients such as pequins (which are seven times hotter than a jalapeño) and arbol peppers, which lends its unique flavour to the brand, setting it apart from Louisiana hot sauces.

The study found that Cholula Hot Sauce was the most popular sauce in the US, with 32,000 searches for the condiment being made each month by spice loving foodies. 

In fact, the condiment took the top spot in 40 states, with 15,248 searches each month, including New York, Florida and Illinois. Cholula is widely available in the US and scores between 1,000 and 2,000 on the Scoville heat scale.

7. Texas Pete

  • red cayenne peppers
  • 10,000
  • Breakfast dishes, burgers, fries

Everyone’s got some Texas Pete sitting around in their pantry. The condiment is a great option for when you want something a little hotter than normal but you also don’t want to burn your mouth out. 

Texas Pete was founded in 1929 in North Carolina by the TW Garner Food Company. The sauce first originated after customers at the Dixie Pig BBQ stand in Winston-Salem asked for a spicier sauce to accompany their food, leading to the creation of the popular brand.

When first developing the brand name, a marketing adviser suggested “Mexican Joe” to connote the spicy cuisine of Mexico. However, this was opposed due to the creators wanting the name to be American. Therefore, as Texas is known for its spicy food; this was combined with Pete. 

8. Tabasco – 700 SHU

  • Tabasco pepper
  • 190,000
  • Sandwiches, salads, burgers, pasta, French fries, cheese fries, pizza, and even mashed potatoes

Tabasco is an American brand of hot sauce made from vinegar, tabasco peppers, and salt. It is produced by the McIlhenny Company of Avery Island, southern Louisiana. 

Although the regular Tabasco sauce only ranks at 400 SHU, Tabasco Green Sauce hits the scale at 1,000 SHU, Tabasco Pepper Sauce reaches 3,500, and the Tabasco brand ‘Habanero Sauce’ gets up to a tingling 8,000 SHU. Meaning that the brand knows how to cater for all spice levels. 

9. ‘Louisiana’ Hot Sauce – 450 SHU

  • Cayenne peppers
  • 13,000
  • Chicken wings

Louisiana hot sauce is also a very popular and common condiment that will most likely feature in many kitchen cupboards around the world. 

With over a 90-year history of great taste and quality, the brand of hot sauces continues to use the time-honored techniques of Louisiana style cooking. The sauces are produced using simple ingredients, including carefully selected and hand-picked, authentic sun-ripened peppers.

The low Scoville units demonstrates why this condiment is such a crowd pleaser, with the sauce adding a slight kick to any dish without burning your tongue. 

10. Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

  • Cayenne
  • 1,100
  • buffalo wings 

Frank’s RedHot was actually the main ingredient used in the first buffalo wing sauce created in 1964 at the Anchor Bar and Grill in Buffalo. 

Frank’s RedHot sauce might not be the spiciest- with a Scoville score of just 450 – but it’s certainly popular in America. Californian foodies are the biggest fans of the hot sauce with 3,033 monthly searches being made for the hot sauce. 

Frank’s RedHot is made from a variety of cayenne peppers, and was first launched in 1920 by McCormick.

Hot Sauce Popularity Around the World

Hot sauce lovers, we know you’re a dedicated bunch when it comes to those fiery condiments. After all, what would Moroccan food be without a dash of Harissa? Or Thai food without the added Sriracha heat?

Many home cooks are utilising the expansion of their local supermarkets world cuisine aisles and discovering new and exotic condiments along the way. 

By experimenting and adding previously undiscovered sauces to dishes, added depths of flavour are instantly released that help bring food to life. The global hot sauce market reached a value of $4.5bn in 2020, highlighting just how addictively popular hot sauce has become. 

But why do so many of us have such a deep love of chili, spice and all things nice?

Well, when you consume foods containing chili peppers, certain receptors in your mouth react extremely powerfully, and that tricks your brain into thinking that your mouth is on fire. 

As part of the body’s response to this stress, you will produce endorphins to help stem the pain. These endorphins subsequently make you feel joyful. 

Tastings: The Japan Pavilion at the National Restaurant Association Show

Several weeks ago, when the National Restaurant Association (NRA) was holding its IMG_4557annual international show, my friend Kimiyo Naka, who lives in Chicago, asked me to stop by the Japan Pavilion where 19 companies from that country were presenting a range of both modern and traditional Japanese foods and beverages. On hand also, were several Chicago restauranteurs including Bill Kim and Takashi Yagihashi, both of whom are awarding winning chefs and cookbook authors. The NRA show is immense, taking up several floors at McCormick’s Place in Chicago and is packed with vendors showcasing products and food, chefs doing cooking demonstrations and the latest in food technologies and equipment.

IMG_4554      My experience with Japanese food is limited, so stopping by the Japan Pavilion, presented by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), was very much a learning experience. When Kimiyo and I tasted samples of Wagyu Beef, a top quality, highly marbled meat produced by four Japanese breeds of beef cattle and took sips of sake, we discovered how these foods are helping Japan’s rural areas in their revitalization efforts.  Some farmers and producers are creating their own brands and exporting—or working on exporting them to other countries including the United States.

We tasted sakes including brown rice sake and one made with shiraume, or white flower plums and looked at the different varieties of rice typically used to make sake, which is a fermented rice drink that is typically served warm. We also talked to a member of the Yonezawa family founders of Akashi Sake Brewery in 1886,  a small artisanal sake producer based in Akashi, a fishing town in the Hyogo prefecture (or district) in Western Japan which is the traditional sake brewing capital of country and is known for having the best sake rice and pure water.

IMG_4552     When the company started all those years ago more than a century ago, Akashi was a small village but since has grown into a booming metropolis. It’s known for the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge – the world’s longest suspension bridge—as well as the quality of the fish that are caught in the waters off its coast. The water also is a predominant feature in the taste of the sake, as are Japanese cedar wood lids used to cover the storage tanks where the Akashi sake is aged. Akashi sake is made in small batches by Toji Kimio Yonezewa. Note: I learned later that toji was not his first name but means brewmaster or chief executive of production.

I also spent time talking to Bill Kim, author of Korean BBQ: How to Kung-Fu Your Grill in Seven Sauces, who I had interviewed before and Takashi Yagihashi, who came to the U.S. from Japan when he was 16, started cooking because he need milk money, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Midwest and is the owner of Slurping Turtle in downtown Chicago (there’s another one in Ann Arbor, Michigan) and TABO Sushi & Noodles at Macy’s State Street in Chicago.IMG_4596 (2)

One of the things we talked about is karaage which is Japanese fried chicken. I’ve included his recipe for the dish. Don’t get put off with the title ingredient of duck fat (if you’re like me, you don’t have a ready supply of it in your refrigerator) because you can substitute vegetable oil instead.

Slurping Turtle’s Duck-Fat-Fried Chicken Karaage

4 chicken thigh quarters (thigh and drumstick)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated

1 tsp. fresh grated ginger

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup mirin or sweet sake

2 tsp. sesame oil

Salt and pepper

6 cups duck fat (or vegetable oil), enough to fill a pan 3 inches deep

1 cup potato starch

Using a sharp knife, separate the thighs from the drumstick by cutting between the joint. Cut the thigh in half lengthwise along the bone. Using a heavy cleaver, chop the piece with the bone in half, resulting in three similar-sized pieces. Then, cut the drumstick in half through the bone. When you’re done with all four thigh quarters, you should have 20 pieces of chicken when done. Alternatively, debone the thigh pieces with skin intact, and cut into two-inch pieces. Place the chicken in a shallow pan and set aside.

For the marinade, combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and a few grinds of black pepper in a bowl and mix. Pour marinade over chicken and coat well using your hands. There should be just enough marinade to coat the chicken. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes or up to two hours.

Line a shallow tray with paper towels and set aside. Heat six cups duck fat (or vegetable oil) in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 1 cup potato starch in a large bowl and gently toss each piece of chicken until lightly coated. Carefully lower half the chicken pieces into the hot oil. Cook the chicken until it is nicely browned and begins to rise to the surface, 9 to 11 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the oil using tongs and place onto paper towel-lined tray. Toss with a pinch of kosher salt while still hot. Repeat with second batch.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges and Japanese mayonnaise.IMG_4553

When finished deep-frying the chicken, season with salt, then sprinkle with this soy-chili oil vinaigrette:

1/2 cup Japanese soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 teaspoons hot chili oil

2 teaspoons sugar

Combine all ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Chef Takashi’s Stir-Fry Udon Noodles

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced

2 1/2 cups chopped Napa cabbage

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 carrot, thinly sliced on the bias

7 ounces enoki mushrooms

4 ounces oyster mushrooms

1/4 cup dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained

1/2 cup chicken stock

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

18 ounces frozen precooked udon noodles, thawed

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Chopped scallions, for garnish

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Add the shrimp and stir-fry over moderately high heat until curled, 2 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the skillet. Add the chicken and stir-fry until white throughout, 3 minutes; transfer to the plate with the shrimp.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the cabbage, onion, carrot and the mushrooms and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Add the stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, shrimp and chicken; remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the udon in a pot of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain and add to the skillet. Stir-fry over high heat until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with scallions and serve.

 

 

 

The Japan Pavilion: An Intro to the Best of the New and the Traditional

Several weeks ago, when the National Restaurant Association (NRA) was holding its annual international show, my friend Kimiyo Naka, who lives in Chicago, asked me to stop by the Japan Pavilion where 19 companies from that country were presenting a range of both modern and traditional Japanese foods and beverages. On hand also, were several Chicago restauranteurs including Bill Kim and Takashi Yagihashi, both of whom are awarding winning chefs and cookbook authors. The NRA show is immense, taking up several floors at McCormick’s Place in Chicago and is packed with vendors showcasing products and food, chefs doing cooking demonstrations and the latest in food technologies and equipment.

My experience with Japanese food is limited, so stopping by the Japan Pavilion, presented by the Japan External Trade Organization, was very much a learning experience. When Kimiyo and I tasted samples of Wagyu Beef, a top quality, highly marbled meat produced by four Japanese breeds of beef cattle and took sips of sake, we discovered how these foods are helping Japan’s rural areas in their revitalization efforts.  Some farmers and producers are creating their own brands and exporting—or working on exporting them to other countries including the United States.

We tasted sakes including brown rice sake and one made with shiraume, or white flower plums and looked at the different varieties of rice typically used to make sake, which is a fermented rice drink that is typically served warm. We also talked to a member of the Yonezawa family founders of Akashi Sake Brewery in 1886,  a small artisanal sake producer based in Akashi, a fishing town in the Hyogo prefecture (or district) in Western Japan which is the traditional sake brewing capital of country and is known for having the best sake rice and pure water.

When the company started all those years ago more than a century ago, Akashi was a small village but since has grown into a booming metropolis. It’s known for the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge – the world’s longest suspension bridge—as well as the quality of the fish that are caught in the waters off its coast. The water also is a predominant feature in the taste of the sake, as are Japanese cedar wood lids used to cover the storage tanks where the Akashi sake is aged. Akashi sake is made in small batches by Toji Kimio Yonezewa. Note: I learned later that toji was not his first name but means brewmaster or chief executive of production.

I also spent time talking to Bill Kim, author of Korean BBQ: How to Kung-Fu Your Grill in Seven Sauces, who I had interviewed before and wrote about in a previous column and Takashi Yagihashi, who came to the U.S. from Japan when he was 16, started cooking because he need milk money, won the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef: Midwest and is the owner of Slurping Turtle in downtown Chicago (there’s another one in Ann Arbor, Michigan) and TABO Sushi & Noodles at Macy’s State Street in Chicago.

One of the things we talked about is karaage which is Japanese fried chicken. I’ve included his recipe for the dish. Don’t get put off with the title ingredient of duck fat (if you’re like me, you don’t have a ready supply of it in your refrigerator) because you can substitute vegetable oil instead.

Slurping Turtle’s Duck-Fat-Fried Chicken Karaage

4 chicken thigh quarters (thigh and drumstick)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated

1 tsp. fresh grated ginger

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup mirin or sweet sake

2 tsp. sesame oil

Salt and pepper

6 cups duck fat (or vegetable oil), enough to fill a pan 3 inches deep

1 cup potato starch

 

Using a sharp knife, separate the thighs from the drumstick by cutting between the joint. Cut the thigh in half lengthwise along the bone. Using a heavy cleaver, chop the piece with the bone in half, resulting in three similar-sized pieces. Then, cut the drumstick in half through the bone. When you’re done with all four thigh quarters, you should have 20 pieces of chicken when done. Alternatively, debone the thigh pieces with skin intact, and cut into two-inch pieces. Place the chicken in a shallow pan and set aside.

For the marinade, combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, and a few grinds of black pepper in a bowl and mix. Pour marinade over chicken and coat well using your hands. There should be just enough marinade to coat the chicken. Cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes or up to two hours.

Line a shallow tray with paper towels and set aside. Heat six cups duck fat (or vegetable oil) in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place 1 cup potato starch in a large bowl and gently toss each piece of chicken until lightly coated. Carefully lower half the chicken pieces into the hot oil. Cook the chicken until it is nicely browned and begins to rise to the surface, 9 to 11 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the oil using tongs and place onto paper towel-lined tray. Toss with a pinch of kosher salt while still hot. Repeat with second batch.

Serve immediately with lemon wedges and Japanese mayonnaise.

When finished deep-frying the chicken, season with salt, then sprinkle with this soy-chili oil vinaigrette:

1/2 cup Japanese soy sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 teaspoons hot chili oil

2 teaspoons sugar

Combine all ingredients and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Chef Takashi’s Stir-Fry Udon Noodles

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined

1/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, thinly sliced

2 1/2 cups chopped Napa cabbage

1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 carrot, thinly sliced on the bias

7 ounces enoki mushrooms

4 ounces oyster mushrooms

1/4 cup dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained

1/2 cup chicken stock

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

18 ounces frozen precooked udon noodles, thawed

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Chopped scallions, for garnish

In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil. Add the shrimp and stir-fry over moderately high heat until curled, 2 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the skillet. Add the chicken and stir-fry until white throughout, 3 minutes; transfer to the plate with the shrimp.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add the cabbage, onion, carrot and the mushrooms and stir-fry for 4 minutes. Add the stock, soy sauce, sesame oil, shrimp and chicken; remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the udon in a pot of boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain and add to the skillet. Stir-fry over high heat until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with scallions and serve.