Hot Sauces from around the World

There are a lot of different types of hot sauce. The recipes are endless with the most prevalent ingredient being chili. They can be infused with vinegar, beer, oil, alcohol or fruits and vegetables of your choice. Sometimes mustards can be added to create barbecue sauce.

In North America, Mexico is the region that uses a lot of hot sauce. Chipotles, which are smoked and dried jalapenos, are very popular and some sauces have a vinegar content that is high. In the United States many recipes contain chili pepper, salt and vinegar. Chipotles, habanero, jalapeno or cayenne are normally used for the sauce. Some, like tabascos, aged and fermented. Others include vegetables and fruits such as chayote squash, carrots, mangoes or raspberries. These will cut the heat from the pepper and serve as thickening agents.

Louisiana hot sauce has red chili pepper, water and vinegar sometimes salt and thickeners. Chili pepper in water is used in Hawaii and is made from whole chilies, salt, garlic and water. The US type of Thai chili sauce is made from ground chilies, sale, garlic and vinegar. There are mild versions available on the market that contain bell pepper, tomatoes and spices but contain very little chili. They resemble cocktail sauces.

New Mexico chili differs as they use no vinegar in their recipes. Nearly every dish of the region includes green or red chili, it is added to breads, meats, eggs and vegetables. Some recipes are mostly chili with a little beans, beef or pork added. The green chili is made from fire roasted green chili that are locally grown, the skin is removed and they are chopped. Fried onions, roux and the chilies are combined and used as salsa. Red chili is made much the same way except red chilies are used.

The West Indies use hot pepper in much of their Caribbean-style cooking. Each island has developed their own specialty with mustard used in most recipes. Other nearby places that have their unique styles are Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, Belize and Panama.

China uses chili in a paste form that is used in stir frying or as dipping sauces. The Szechuan province uses chilies liberally, they are made with broad beans or soybean paste and contain a great deal of chili pepper. The Hunan province also cooks with a great deal of chili pepper.

Other Asian countries that use chili in their cooking are Korea, Vietnam and Thailand. In Vietnam their hot sauce is unique in that they make it from sun-ripened chilies, garlic, vinegar, salt and sugar. And in Thailand the chilies are often eaten raw. Japan and Singapore have their own unique recipes and use chili as a condiment to add flavor but it is not too hot or overpowering.

The burning sensation from chili is caused by capsaicin, it is a chemical reaction with the body’s neurological system. The heat can be measured on the Scoville scale, a method of diluting something with water until the burn is gone. The most effective way to douse the heat is with dairy products like milk or yogurt. Rice is also a good neutralizer for hot sauce and it is often served with spicy hot foods.