Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hot Sauce - Store Bought And Home Made

I would much rather use the commercial hot sauces that I like instead of making my own.  Not that making basic hot sauce is difficult, but there is a certain amount of experimentation needed to make a sauce with just the right blend of heat and flavor. A basic hot sauce can be made with just three ingredients:

2 cups plain white distilled vinegar
1 1/2 lbs seeded jalapeno chilis 
2 teaspoons salt 

Simmer all ingredients for at least 5 minutes, then puree mixture in a blender. Put mixture in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and put in a dark place to age for at least three months. Check on the jar once a week to make sure too much pressure isn't building in it. The sauce is actually fermenting to a certain extent, so removing the lid to let the fermentation gases out might be a good idea. Be careful though. The gases will contain capsaicin,  the substance that give hot peppers their heat. Getting a whiff of the fumes could be quite uncomfortable.

There are scads of other recipes out there that add tomatoes, spices, and god-knows-what to the basic recipe for the more adventurous. One of the problems with making hot sauce that is consistent in heat and flavor is that in any given season the heat of the peppers can vary significantly. Very hot, dry weather can make peppers hotter than seasons that are cooler. The variety of peppers used also can make a big difference. Cooking that many hot peppers and vinegar in the house can also really stink up the place and release capsaicin in the air, so it's best to do it outside. Cutting up and seeding hot peppers, even the milder varieties, can make your hands feel like their on fire, so I'd wear rubber gloves. 

So for anyone that wants to make their own, I say go for it. For me, I've found two commercial hot sauces that I use on a regular basis. The first one is a versatile sauce that was the original hot sauce used for Buffalo Hot Wings; Franks Original Red Hot sauce. This sauce has been around since 1896. It uses cayenne peppers and is just right for my palate. The original Buffalo Hot Wings are very easy to make:

Chicken wings
1 tablespoon vinegar
pinch of garlic salt
pinch of celery seed
Franks Original Red Hot Sauce

Deep fry wings until done and crispy. Drain wings. In a cast iron skillet, melt a stick of butter and add vinegar, celery seed and garlic salt. Put wings in butter and coat them with the butter, let cook for a few minutes. Remove wings from the skillet and put them in a large bowl. Add hot sauce, toss wings until evenly coated. Swerve with blue cheese dressing with carrot and celery sticks.  

When I want more heat, or I'm going to cook with hot sauce, I use Sriracha sauce, an oriental sauce. If you want more heat to your Buffalo Wings, this is a good sauce to substitute with. I like to use this sauce for stir fries.  The longer this sauce is heated, the more heat it will lose, so I add it towards the end of the cooking process. It gives a great flavor to stir fried chicken or shrimp.

There are more hot sauces out there than you can shake a stick at. Some are basic, some are complex. Some are too damned hot for my taste.  If you like hot and spicy, explore Chinese, Mexican, Indian and many other ethnic foods and you'll find hot dishes.

My Zimbio