Hot sauce. We put it on pretty much everything. It spices up marinades, brings mayo to life, wakes up our morning scramble, and then some.
Everyone has their favorite variety, whether it be straight chili flakes, Tabasco, a homemade picante, what have you. Then, Beyonce told us she carried hot sauce in her bag (swag), Sriracha started selling cute mini bottles, artisanal brands started popping up: The hot sauce trend is here to stay, and we’re not mad about it. In honor of our love for all the options out there, we put together a list of sauces from around the globe that deserve a spot on the fridge door.
Louisiana-style, United States
Many American-made hot sauces originated in the south, most notably in New Orleans, where the local cuisine is heavily influenced by both Cajun cooking and an array of cultures with signature spicy tastes. Tabasco was one of the first to be manufactured there, but we’re way beyond the little glass bottle we know and love. Now, you’ve got your Frank’s RedHot, your Crystal Hot Sauce, and your Louisiana Hot Sauce Original, to name just a few. The flavor is perfect for cutting decadent dishes like deep-fried shellfish, French fries, or mac-n-cheese. Pass the napkins, please.
Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce, Jamaica
In the Caribbean, hot sauces are referred to as pepper sauces. The star of most sauces is the Scotch Bonnet pepper; these little guys are shaped like a bonnet (thus the name) and are fire-breathing hot. The sauce components are pretty straightforward: peppers, vinegar, and salt. The habanero is a good substitute if you can’t find any Scotch Bonnets and want to add a little liquid fire to your summer BBQs.
You probably have your own personal bottle of Sriracha at home and at work, because it’s just that good (it can’t be just us). A key condiment in Southeast Asian cooking, the authentic Thai version can be quite different from the ubiquitous “rooster sauce,” which is actually made by Huy Fong Foods in SoCal. Named after the town of Si Racha—where it was created in the 1930s—the original Sriracha is made from the same base ingredients (fresh red chiles, sugar, salt, garlic, and vinegar) but is usually a bit thinner and sweeter than the version we currently put on everything. Sriracha mayo is a way of life (pictured above).
Sambal Oelek, Indonesia
The word sambal is an Indonesian term that refers to a variety of different chili-based condiments. There are multiple kinds of sambals, but the one familiar to us in the U.S. is sambal oelek, which refers to the mortar and pestle used to make it. It’s bright red and contains fresh red chiles, salt, and occasionally vinegar. It’s less acidic than Tabasco or Sriracha, while also being thicker and slightly chunky—it’s a nice change up from the usuals. Surprise, it’s used in this Kale Salad recipe, too.
Gochujang has a long history in Korean food culture, dating back more than 1,000 years. “Gochu” is Korean for Capsicum, aka the pepper plant. The texture is similar to ketchup, and it has that perfectly balanced sweet-spicy-tangy thing going for it. Gochujang is typically made from a mixture of fermented soybeans, red chili powder, rice, and salt, which all melds together in the sun. It’s yet another versatile hot sauce that adds great flavor without numbing your taste buds—our Korean beef burritos will prove it.
Harissa, North Africa
Harissa is a North African chili paste made from a blend of ground dried chili peppers, garlic, olive oil, and spices, most commonly coriander and caraway. It lends a moderate amount of heat while adding depth and complexity of flavor to just about any meal. In countries like Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Algeria, Harissa is the base flavor for soups and stews, and is served as a condiment any time of day. You may have already tried it in more than a few Plated recipes—if not, now’s your chance.
Make Your Own Harissa
Toss a dollop into roasted vegetables, stir a bit into dips and dressings, fold a small spoonful into your morning omelet, or serve it straight up as a condiment to grilled meats and poultry. You’ll be happy you did.
4 ounces dried guajillo chili peppers, stems and seeds removed
½ teaspoon caraway seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoon olive oil, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon salt
Put chiles into a medium bowl, cover with boiling water, and let sit until softened, about 30 minutes.
Heat caraway and coriander seeds in a small skillet over medium heat. Toast the spices, swirling constantly, until very fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer spices to an electric grinder or a mortar and grind to a powder.
Drain the chiles and transfer to a food processor along with the ground spices, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. Pulse until the mixture is smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice, and add more olive oil if needed.
Transfer to a jar, cover with a layer of olive oil and store in the fridge for 4-6 weeks, making sure to top with olive oil after each use. Makes about ¾ cup.