Hot Chilli sauces

Standing out from the crowd

Hot sauces can be broadly classified into groupings that identify where they are from and in which style they are made.  Louisiana hot sauce, for example, can be identified as being a Tabasco type sauce that is thin and peppery. On the other hand, Caribbean sauces are generally made with hot Chillies like Scotch bonnets and are sometimes combined with fruit like pineapple or mango.

Similarly, many Unusual hot sauces sauces from South America, like Chimichurri from Argentina and Pebre from  Chile, have a strong coriander (cilantro) note.  Yet others are in the styles of Northern African like Tunisian Harissa, Central African Urusenda from Rwanda, South East Asian  Sambal Badjak from Indonesia, Middle Eastern – Shatta from Palestine, Aji Amarillo sauces from Peru and Asian sauces like Chiu Chow from China. Not to mention the whole array of sauce from North America, including Mexico, India and many others.

From the above, it is undoubtedly clear that there are many sauces out there from all parts of the globe. Some, though, are just downright interesting and unique, making them worthy of a particular comment. Many of these sauces can be made at home, but where the ingredients are too difficult to get hold of, it may be best to buy the finished article.

Distinctive  hot sauces

Sauces with character

Some hot sauces stand out from the crowd. Many sauces are just remakes of each other . The main  attraction is normally their attractive packaging. Not so with these bad boys.

Hawaiian Chilli Pepper water.

Hawaiian Chilli Pepper water is a hot sauce (because its consistency is quite thin, it can also be referred to as a Chilli seasoning)  found on virtually every table in Hawaii. It is made with water, vinegar, crushed garlic, ginger, chillies, salt and pepper. This can be quite a salty sauce, and is used by some to replace salt. In Hawai, this sauce is made with a Birds-eye Chilli called Hawaiian Chili Pepper, about the size of a 22 calibre bullet. It has a Schoville rating of between 50000 and 100000 SHU.  It is particularly good with foods that absorb flavour like fish and chips, smashed avocado, in stir fries and also Hawaiian Poke


This sauce or relish is popular in the Mahgreb region more as a marinade or finisher of dishes than a condiment. It is mild in heat, but can be made hotter if required. Its ingredients are coriander ( cilantro), flat-leaf parsley, garlic, cumin, preserved lemons, fresh chillies or paste, paprika, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Chemoula  is served mainly with fish dishes, but also with meat.

Shito hot sauce.

Shito means pepper in Ga, a Ghanian language spoken in Accra, the capital of Ghana. It is a reasonably hot sauce made with vegetable oil, ginger, dried fish and crustaceans, garlic, tomatoes, Chillies and other spices. A recipe and guidance to make this hot sauce can be found here.

Rica Rica.

A spicy hot sauce from Indonesia. It is made with red and green Birds - eye Chillies, shallots, garlic, coconut oil, lemongrass, salt, pepper and lime juice. It is a pungent sauce that is served with barbecued and grilled meats, poultry and seafood. Easy to make recipe here

Green Habanero sauce.

A hot sauce made with young Habanero Chillies. This is a hot sauce that is mildly pungent, with a tropical undertone.  Its other ingredients are carrots, garlic, apple cider vinegar, water, salt and pepper.

Green Habaneros are not as pungent as they are when they are when ripe. These means that sauce is relative mild compared to other Habanero sauces. Green Habanero sauce is fantastic with grilled poultry and meat. It is also good when served with grilled vegetables. It is relatively easy to make this sauce. if you have access to green Habaneros

Spicy Yuzu sauce.

Yuzu is a citrus fruit grown in China and Japan. It tastes like grapefruit and lemons with a sharp, sour taste.  The zest of this fruit is combined with vinegar and salt to make a great tasting Chilli sauce. Fantastic with fish and as a general condiment.   This is a straightforward sauce to make. Follow our recipe for this.

 Nam prik pao.

Thai hot sauce made with canola oil, garlic, shallots, dried chillies, shrimp paste, fish sauce, tamarind paste, sugar, lime juice and water. Great served soups like Tom Yum Goong and Thai noodle dishes. For a great recipe to make this hot sauce follow this link

Wasabi Green tea hot sauce.

An unusual hot sauce made by combining purified water with soybean oil, Wasabi rhizomes, Jalapenos, sugar, vinegar, tomatillos, lime juice, green teas, garlic and onion powder, coriander, mustard powder and turmeric. It is not a pungent Chilli sauce, but is packed with flavour that goes well with sushi. This is not a sauce that can easily be made at home.

Others include fermented sauces, Aji Amarillo sauce with peanuts, Avocado chilli sauce and various hot sauces with tequila and bourbon.

Final thoughts

While these are general styles for classification, there are sauces from a particular region where there is crossover in terms of style.  Some Brazilian hot sauces (e.g. Mohlo Malagueta), which theoretically falls into South America, can be compared with Piri Piri sauce from Africa and Portugal. In the same vein, some African-style sauces can be compared with those from South America. This is all due to the history of these regions, which led to fusion cuisine.

This list is by no means comprehensive, but provides a certain idea of how broad the choice is for sauces. Many are just a variation on the basic vinegar, garlic, salt and Chillies. Besides the differences obtained by using different varieties of Chillies, the basic concept stays the same.  Many of these are marketed under eye-catching names that convey what they are. Typically, these will include very hot sauces ( super hot Chillies like Carolina reapers),  mild wing sauce, sweet Chilli sauces, etc.


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