Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cholula -- The Sequel: Chipotle, Chili Lime, Chili Garlic -- More Mexican Hot Sauces!

Cholula Hot Sauces
I really liked the Cholula Hot Sauce I reviewed a month ago, and I am always interested in checking out locally, and hopefully, widely available Hot Sauces, that you can find in the supermarket, so I was pleased to discover 3 more Cholula Hot Sauces in our local King's Supermarket (part of a fairly small, upscale, northern NJ regional chain)-- the Chili Lime, Chili Garlic, and Chipotle.

They are not expensive, and I hoped, as with the original Cholula, they would have really good flavor. For more info about Cholula and their Hot Sauces, do see the review link above.

OK, straight to the reviews.

Cholula Chili Lime:
Ingdts: Water, Apple and White Vinegar, Peppers -- Guajillo/Paprika/Arbol/Piquin, Salt, Sugar, Dried Tomato, Natural Flavor, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Citric Acid, Silicon Dioxide, Garlic, and Xanthan Gum

Wow, that's quite a list of ingredients. For a sauce with water and vinegar as the 2 primary ingredients, this is quite thick. 4 different types of peppers, hmmm. Also included is hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which is high in glutamates, and is a "meatiness" ingredient. Adds what the Japanese call "Umami", for you foodies.

Well, to the nose, there are strong lime and dried/aged pepper notes, characteristically Cholula arbol and piquin, with just a little sweetness.

The 1/4 TSP to the tongue test gives a salty/lime taste 1st, followed by a strong Arbol dried/aged pepper flavor with some mild heat, and saltiness, fading to a pleasant and mild pepper heat over a minute or so. This is not a very hot sauce. Tomato and Garlic are off in the background. Texture is thick and smooth.

Overall impression is very pleasant, and the many ingredients give a complex and well balanced flavor that is robust and delicate at the same time.

This sauce is certainly suitable for Mexican food, and, for those of you who like a strong lime flavor, suitable for a wide range of dishes, from eggs, to steak, and sandwiches to stew. Great with a Bloody Mary.

As with other Mexican Hot Sauces, the Vinegar is in the background, quite unlike a Louisiana Style sauce, which is primarily a Vinegar sauce.

The sauce could be a little hotter. You have to put a lot of it on robust and complicated foods to get the heat.

Highly Recommended.

Now for the

Cholula Chili Garlic:
Ingdts: Water, Salt, Dried Peppers -- Arbol and Piquin, Vinegar, Garlic, Spices, Natural Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Dried Garlic.

This formula is quite a bit simpler than that for the Chili Lime, but the flavor is very similar -- just take out the lime and add a big dose of garlic and there you are! Heat level is similar, and there isn't quite the same level of pepper complexity, but hey, it's a Garlic Lover's dream!

Chili Garlic will be good on all of the same foods, too. Chili Lime will be better for a Bloody Mary.

Highly Recommended especially for Garlic Lovers.

Last but not least is the

Cholula Chipotle:
Ingdts: Water, White and Apple Vinegar, Sugar, Peppers -- Chipotle/Guajillo/Arbol/Piquin, Salt, Natural Flavors, Spices, Xanthan Gum, Silicon Dioxide, Citric Acid, Caramel

This list is VERY similar to that for the Chili Lime. The Chipotle has no Paprika, Tomato, or Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, but it does have Chipotle, of course, and Caramel.

The Cholula Chipotle is very Smoky to the Nose and the Tongue, a little sweet to the tongue, and has a more slowly developing pepper heat that lingers nicely for a minute or 2. The texture is again similar, smooth and a bit thick.

This is a great sauce for robust, long-cooked, or meaty foods, like burgers, steak, pork, stews, and anything you want smoky.

Highly Recommended especially for the carnivore crowd.

Cholula goes 3 for 3 today. Good job, and good for all of us!

I have delayed the Benito's Hot Sauce reviews, because the latest product I have received is not similar to the last I had. Soon as I clear that up, I will review the White Hot, Naranja, Joe's #1 Jalapa, Bricktucky, and Habanero Mango.

Yours in heat and flavor,


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How Hot is Hot? Is Hotter Hot Sauce Better?

So if we like Hot Sauce, and Heat is Good, and more is better, then the Hotter Hot Sauce is better, right? Well, that's obviously not true, and we all know we have our limits.

Testosterone crazed males aside, most of us will even admit that flavor is important, too. So, how much Heat is right?

If you are to believe the ads and photos for many Hot Sauces, like the one above, and the labels on the Hot Sauce Bottles, many are so hot that they can cause insanity and death -- clearly false advertising! I know, because I have tested regular so-called Insanity Hot Sauces and Death Sauces, and they are quite safe for people who can tolerate a basic level of heat.

The makers of these sauces do offer hotter sauces, and even much, much hotter sauces, and these sauces are really scary hot, often hot enough to cause a nasty accident if used unwisely or by someone unaware. But what purpose do they serve, really?

The truth is, the hotter the sauce, the less you can use of that sauce, and the less you can use, the less flavor you get. Period.

I know when I make a Hot Sauce and use a very Hot Pepper, like a Habanero, I have to use less of that pepper by proportion, compared to, say, a Cayenne Pepper, and even so, because peppers vary in heat from one batch to the next, I have to taste the Hot Sauce and adjust accordingly.

There are some really good Hot Sauces out there, and some of them are pretty hot, too, but one thing the good ones have in common is FLAVOR, not just heat.

One of my favorite Hot Sauces, which is not super hot, but which is a good place to begin because it has Real Flavor, is Blair's Original Death Sauce, which I reviewed earlier. It won't kill ya', and you'll be glad you tried it. You want something hotter, try the other "Death Sauces", from "After Death", "Pure Death", "Megadeath", and "Ultra Death", to "Sudden Death".

Don't be fooled, "Mo' Hotta" ain't necessarily "Mo' Betta!"

That said, I do like fairly hot, Hot Sauce. Just, not with Pepper Extract, and Capsaicin.

I want the Real Pepper, not just the hot part.


Image courtesy of Jailhouse Fire Hot Sauce. Love the image -- don't know anything about the Hot Sauce.

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