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Sunday 24 March 2013

Review - El Yucateco Red & Green Habanero Hot Sauces

I had recently the opportunity that El Yucateco sends me directly some of their hot sauces to review them.
I heard many good things about their products and have been wanting to try them for a long time, finally here they are!
The two sauces reviewed today are part of the Habanero range consisting of Red Habanero Sauce, Green Habanero Sauce, Caribbean Style Habanero Sauce and XXXtra Hot Habanero Sauce (also known as Kutbil-Ik from the Mayan eponym recipe).

Yucateco 1

Red Habanero Hot Sauce

Ingredients: Water, Habanero, Tomato, Salt, Spices, Acetic Acid, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate as a preservative, FD&C Red N°40, Calcium Disodium EDTA.

Yucateco 4

Created with the classic recipe, this sauce is made mostly from a blend of Habanero, tomatoes, spices and seasoning.
I tried it with some grilled lamb chops and with some shrimps, it went really well mixed with some Mayonnaise to make a kind of "Cocktail sauce" and dip the shrimps in.
Strong flavour of tomatoes and a bit of acidity from them, but has there is no vinegar in the recipe this acidity is limited even with the use of citric and acetic acids.
However, I would have expected to get a bit of Habanero-ish flavour but there wasn't any inside.
The heat level is medium, actually the Green Habanero sauce is stronger.
Thick texture with some tiny bits of spices and tomato/Habanero skin, not too runny, this is a versatile hot sauce, you can use it with whatever you want as the recipes is basic, would go well on burgers and also pastas such as some mac and cheese.

Yucateco 2

Overall: Rating 3,5

Green Habanero Hot Sauce

Ingredients: Water, Habanero, Salt, Acetic Acid, Spices, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Onion Powder, Sodium Benzoate as a preservative, FD&C Yellow N°5, Calcium Disodium EDTA, FD&C Blue N°1.

Yucateco 5

Another classic recipe, this sauce uses some fresh green Habanero, garlic and spices.
I tried the green one with the lamb too but I found that from its herbal flavour especially of parsley, it would go great next time that I prepare a guacamole, I appreciated the fact that despite it uses some green Habanero, unripe fruits, this doesn't bring a bitter taste, and there is no vinegary aftertaste. Nice dash of garlic too!
The sauce is of a glowing green, thick and very homogeneous.
Surprisingly this green hot sauce is stronger than the red one (the green was measured at 9000 Scoville units whereas the red one is at 5790 Scoville Units), as the ripe fruits are hotter than the unripe ones, it is supposed that the percentage of green Habanero used is much more important in the green one than in the red one where it has been diluted with some tomatoes.
Despite the use of a good quantity of Habanero for this sauce, I didn't find neither in this sauce an Habanero-ish flavour nor special chinense flavour.

Yucateco 3

Overall: Rating 3

Overall impression:
El Yucateco hot sauces can be used as a condiment to dip the food in or to cover the meat/seafood after it has been grilled for example, but it can be used also as an ingredient, you can get some zesty guacamole and excellent results in different recipes using their sauces.
What I'm surprised about these two sauces is that they have some FD&C inside, you know that from painting mixes that blue+yellow makes some green, but for the Green Habanero sauce this makes a glowing neon green appearance, it's a bit a pity for these all natural sauces but that's a choice to bring a bright green to appeal the customers.

You can find more informations about El Yucateco hot Sauces here:
You can also check their website for further informations

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Tuesday 29 January 2013

Review - HellFire Hot Sauce First Blood

I have been following with lot of interest the evolution of HellFire during the last months, it has been an exemple of creativity with their really nice art bottle reserves whose a lot of them are masterpieces of art.
From the company's, products names and art bottles style HellFire takes us to a trip in a devilish universe where the hot sauces are at the same time brutal and subtle mixes of superhot peppers and other ingredients.
Put on a metal CD, this is the first review of a hot sauce from HellFire: First Blood.

Bhut Jolokia, 7 Pot, Naga Morich, Moruga & Trinidad Scorpion, Chocolate Habanero, 7 Pot Douglah, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Lemon, Garlic, Vinegar, Salt and Spices.

HellFire First Blood 1

Label: 6/10
This design unlike the others from HellFire is very basic, a two colors red and white one with an effect of blood dripping on the label, the brand logo on top with its usual font, in red and yellow with a slight 3D effect. Nothing more really special to say about the design.
The ingredient list is clear, the nutrition facts is a bit small, I suppose no allergic ingredients around or that may have been used in the kitchen as it's not mentionned.
However I didn't find a best before date, neither written on the label nor on a sticker on the bottom of the bottle.
Annoying details: the printing, ink quality and paper, all this need to be improved. In case of humidity on the bottle from the fridge, the temperature change or any trace of water on your fingers will make the ink fade in your hands and discolor/ "damage" the label quality, which is a pity.

HellFire First Blood 2

Sauce Appearance: 7/10
- From the outside: appearance of a semi-liquid sauce well blended but not completely, with a presence of seeds.
- Consistency (poured in a cup): the sauce is of a dark orangeish/red colour with a good hability to stick on the food, not too runny, a consistence close to a purée with an hability to run easilty however.
Presence of small bits of tomato and pepper skin and a little bit of tiny particles of powder from the spices and maybe from the garlic in powder(?).

HellFire First Blood 3

Aromas: 8/10
- From the bottleneck: Firstly it smells something that made me remember the oriental Harissa that I enjoy to eat and cook too. This aroma made me think that there's probably some cumin inside or another spice close to it such as carraway.
Then no doubt we have inside some warriors from the superhot team, it's easy to smell the aromas of great chinense gunners!
- From the cup: having poured it before this step has allowed the sauce to breath at ambient temp and develop its aromas at their best level possible.
The aromas guessed from the bottle neck are confirmed, but a vinegary aroma is a bit more present maybe because of its volatility.

Taste: 8/10
- Alone: I just used a tiny teaspoon: Wow!!! I got overwhelmed with different flavours from the superhot peppers, I found that especially a flavour of naga (Bhut Jolokia & Naga Morich) was standing out of the lot, maybe the percent of Bhut in the mix is higher than the others but this is just a guess.
Then you can feel a nice taste of tomato with a final note of lemon; I was expecting to get those flavours from the spices that I have been guessing from the aromas but actually my tongue was a bit anesthetized by the heat!
Some minutes later, what keeps running in my mouth is the flavour of the whole blend, something really chinense but not so carribean as it would be from the Trinidad and Moruga Scorpions, I think there is a kind of flavour more bhut-ish.
- With food: From what I have been hearing around, something needs to be explained: what a blend of superhot peppers can bring to a sauce? For this I am going to be 'the extreme heat preacher' and bring some true facts.
Firstly superhot peppers are not only super hot, they also have different flavours (for example, floral notes of a Bhut Jolokia vs Carribean "tropical fruity" notes of a Trinidad Scorpion, even if the flavours are subjective facts they are anyway different in different superhot peppers).
But just blending superhots doesn't make it all, there is also the talent and art to mix them together and add the right slight touch of spices to make it a pretty nice blend.
The positionning of this sauce is clear, it has a profile of a sauce dominated by the flavours from the peppers, and after having tasted First Blood with some Guacamole, Thai style salmon carpaccio and some grilled lamb chops I can say that the result is a success.
Every time that it has been used in these recipes, the sauce has brung a very high heat level and the flavours from the peppers were perceptible.
Mixing different superhot peppers together is like mixing different flavours and aromas together: it creates a whole new blend of fragrances with a new taste.
Finally the sauce has worked really well with the lamb chops as it has some kind of oriental flavours with a something like cumin doing really well with lamb.
The whole blend is well balanced and there is no special tartness from the vinegar.

HellFire First Blood 4HellFire First Blood 5

Heat: 10/10
If you do a quick tasting, the heat doesn't last very long, it's more like a sudden "bang" and you're wondering if you'll get hiccups or not -surprinsingly I didn't have any-, my tongue was really on fire, but not during too long time, my lips were tingling a bit too.

Used with food this is something really different, until you keep on eating your food there is a very high heat that you try to manage and you could think that finally your journey in the HellFire is safe even if it's very tough...but when you finished your plate: Big Mistake!!! What you were feeling before was just a preview of what was awaiting for you, the Army of the Capsaicin Darkness suddenly wakes up to open fire in your body, the level of heat bursts and keeps increasing: this is the price to pay for your foolhardiness!

Recommended use:
This sauce is very versatile, you can use it in any dish that you want to bring some heat and flavours from the superhot peppers that the sauce is made with.
As guessed and tried it works really well with grilled meat especially lamb, but it is surely great also with pork and chicken.
This would be great to use it instead of Harissa in some oriental recipes such as Couscous or Tajine, but also in the Indian cuisine this could be interesting to use it to power up some curries.
In any case, just use it in anything you want, but be careful with the amount that you use!

Overall impression:
Rating 4
This is indeed a sauce dominated by the flavours from the peppers, giving it this kind of profile.
A sauce like that is a challenge in itself to bring as much heat as flavours and aromas, that is why I would recommend to any people who like this kind of hot sauce to try it, as well as people having any doubt about what has been said before.
This is a perfect example of an all natural hot sauce, there are all the natural flavours and aromas from the superhot peppers instead of a nasty taste of extract usually simply used to bring a huge heat level!
For my first try of a HellFire hot sauce, I can say that the promise made from the spirit of their products is really true, I really feel that it is a trip into the mouth of hell and that this is definitely a product not for the timid!

You can find more informations about HellFire Hot sauce's products here:

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Saturday 24 November 2012

Review – Scovilla’s Hot Gourmet Fiery Bandito

After having reviewed West Indian, here is the second hot sauce review from Scovilla's Hot Gourmet range of their "Chipotle BBQ Hot Sauce" called Fiery Bandito.
I can say that I'm really interested in Chipotle based sauces, also I have been curious to discover this product and wanted to know if it could be as much pleasant to taste as it is attractive from the outside.

The sauce was tasted by itself, with some pan-fried Spanish Serrano ham and eggs, and with some grilled lamb chops.

Habanero, Carrots, Chipotle, Onions, Papayas, Salt, Lime Juice, Acetic Acid, Passion Fruit Juice, Citric Acid, Xanthan gum, Garlic

Label: 8/10
The labels of the Hot Gourmet range are all very nice, high quality design, good choice of colors and with the usual funny/sexy mascots different in each product.
You can guess that they needed some investment of time and money, when you bring a very proper and marketing oriented label like that you MUST have a sauce which is up to it to not disappoint the customers and raise questions.
It would be like a beautiful and very well-dressed singer with a horrible high-pitched voice once she opens her mouth!

Fiery Bandito 1

Aromas: 6/10
From the bottle it smells a mix of Chipotle and carrot which makes the carrots smell like roasted ones. We also get this kind of smell like raisin that we usually find in Morita Chipotle in addition to their usual smoky aroma.
No special smell from the vinegar as it has been replaced by some Acetic Acid instead, but something like an ambient acidity.

Consistency and Appearance: 7/10
This sauce is of a brownish color and has a thick consistency of a crushed sauce with some tiny red pieces of peppers and bits of skins from probably a Habanero mash and Chipotle bits.
Also there are some seeds whose some of them have a brown color and look like seeds from a C. Annuum variety. This let suppose that those brown seeds come from the Chipotle, so it was not used in its powder form and more probably some Chipotle flakes or whole Chipotle have been used in the recipe.
There are also some other particles which seem to come from the garlic and onions.Taken as a whole, the consistency of the sauce allows it to stick to the food, and would stick to any kind of food.

Fiery Bandito 2

Taste: 6/10
Let's get back talking about Chipotle.
When manufacturers use Chipotle in their sauces they may have different objectives. They may want a sauce with a basic smoky flavour they will go for Morita Chipotle; they would like a stronger smoky flavor they will go for a Meco, adding its special recognizable flavor to the sauce.
Some mild sauces will only use the Chipotle, as the heat from the Jalapeño can be self-sufficient depending on the positioning of the product in terms of heat level.
Here, that is not the case, some Habanero peppers have been added to increase the heat level, it's not good or bad: it's just a choice.
In some sauces using Chipotle peppers you can get just a kind of smoky flavor where some liquid smoke would have given the same result, but here it's not that.
We can feel from the start the flavor of the Chipotle pepper, not just a smoky flavor but the whole flavor of a Chipotle, just like you would chew one right from the bag!
But…it's followed by an acidic taste whose a part of it has the acidity and flavor of the lime juice, then a few seconds later there is a light garlic final note. I've been surprised first by the acidity, then by the fact that I didn't get the tropical notes from the Papayas and Passion fruit juice, and indeed these two facts are linked.
Aside I mixed some ketchup with the sauce to have a try to bring more sweetness and just like magic I caught the flavors from the Papaya and Passion fruit giving a nice final to the mix: the sweetness from the ketchup has counterbalanced the acidity allowing to perceived those flavors that were masked before.
Therefore, it seems that there is a acid base disequilibrium where the acidity killed the flavors from the tropical fruits, knowing that the lemon juice contains already some citric acid and that passion fruits also brings a high acidity (linoleic acid); Papaya may have prevented a bit the acidity but not enough.

Fiery Bandito 3

Heat: 5/10
From the beginning we feel on the tongue the heat from the habanero peppers, the burn keeps going in the throat and keeps tingling the tongue a little bit.
It's a mid sauce so not especially here to bring some heat, just to be a Chipotle based hot sauce with a touch of Habanero heat, so the job is done, we have a medium heat sauce.

Recommended Use:
I would use it with any kind of grilled meat, it would be good too as a finishing sauce or glaze, and probably good for a Chipotle gastrique.
It could be interesting mixed with some sour cream used as a dipping sauce, or even mixed in a black beans puree to eat with some totopos.

Overall Impression:
Rating 3
They took the risk with their labels but they didn't fail, the sauce is not extraordinary but it's as good as the label suggests it.
The issue with its acidity makes the tropical fruits useless, but this does not necessarily mean that this product is not good, as from the quality of the Chipotle flavor we can get, this sauce as from its name a Chipotle Barbecue Hot sauce will surely be of a good use especially with any kind of grilled meat!

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