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I’ve always been a huge chilli fan, some years ago I grew 27 plants – a collection of Apache, Jalepeno, Habanero, Scotch Bonnet and Dorset Naga varieties and I always had orders of hot sauces coming in, though over the last couple of years I’ve been a bit dormant on the chilli front until this year where I’ve really got back in to it again. It all started earlier this year when I had a craving for some super hot wings and saw a local BBQ restaurant in Oldham (Jack’s Smokehouse) doing a Carolina Reaper hot wing challenge – 10 wings in 10 minutes with a 15 minute burnout. I walked away with the T-Shirt and a craving satisfied.
Then I found that Manchester Smokehouse and Cellar had introduced a ‘911 Hot Sauce’ to their menu and offered to ‘911’ their wings starter for an extra £1, for which they make you sign a (marketing driven) disclaimer. These, if you’re a chilli head in the Manchester area looking for food, are spot on – really nice smoked, crispy wings too.
When I received an email last week from Gavin at Curry Frenzy with the subject ‘Extreme Hot Sauces‘, I had to take a look.
Gavin had two products in the ‘Limited Edition’ section of the website: Carolina Reaper and The Sting hot sauces. I’ve always been a huge fan of Naga (Ghost pepper) chillies, and the Carolina Reaper and Trinidad Scorpion are the current and former record holders for the world’s hottest chillies on the Scoville heat scale; so when I saw these two bad boys, they had to be bought. I’m actually extremely lucky as when I ordered these the website showed 17 available, and as I write this post, there’s 2 of each left!
Here’s a useful diagram courtesy of HotLicks that puts these two heavy-weights of the chilli world in to perspective:
Although the diagram above states the Trinidad Scorpion is 2m and the Carolina Reaper is 2.1m – I think they’re quoting the records. I think Gavin is being more realistic in his product descriptions with ‘These chillies range from 1,000,000 to 2,000,000’ for the Trinidad Maruga Scorpion and ‘the hottest in the world ranging from 1.5 million and up to 2 million’ for the Carolina Reaper.
When I got home from work today I found a parcel had arrived – and I knew exactly what was inside. All it needed was some ‘Hazardous Substance’ yellow tape 🙂 I didn’t expect these to have turned up so fast so a big thanks to Gavin for getting them sent out so fast.
So, what’s the verdict?
Carolina Reaper Extreme Hot Sauce
This was the first one I tried (it had to be!).
From the second I unscrewed the lid and heard it pop my senses were flooded by the absolutely divine and unmistakably fruity smell of Ghost pepper chilli. I’ve smelt it many, many times, but I don’t think it’s ever smelt this good. It’s almost like if I shut my eyes I’m walking through a forest of Naga plants with rivers of this sauce meandering around the place. I recently ordered some of Chilli Pepper Pete’s Dragon’s Blood – and it’s a really nice sauce made with pineapple juice, but despite being an all natural Naga based sauce, it’s a little underwhelming in terms of delivering that Naga smell / taste – that’s not the case here.
I grabbed a tablespoon, dipped it in and loaded it up – not to try a full tablespoon (not straight in from work anyway) – but to have a look at the consistency and colour. This stuff has a wonderful consistency – it’s like a really smooth Italian passata sauce, if not a little runnier. It’s quite thick for a chilli sauce really – they’re normally quite thin and watery but after having tried this stuff I think it’s perfect. A consistency like this I imagine will go perfect as a wing sauce, a dip for pizza or used as an additive to a curry or chilli-con-carne. It’s not oily, it’s not watery, but it glistens and shines.
Taste wise I’m astonished – if it wasn’t for The Sting reviewed below which is making this difficult – I’d say it is, by some distance, the best chilli sauce I’ve tried to date.
The most striking aspect of this sauce for me is its sweetness – it’s sweeter than most – though don’t let this put you off. It’s not sickly sweet, just noticeably sweet, and I think it may be the secret to this sauce. I think when you’re dealing with a chilli of this intensity you need something to help counter the burn and adding sweetness really works here. I’m a big fan of Gorkali curries at British Indian Restaurants / takeaways because of the mix of hot chillies and a sweet base – and that’s kind of what we’ve got here.
I’m impressed with the taste in terms of tomato use too – it doesn’t strike me as a ‘tomatoey’ sauce. For me, that’s a good thing. It’s obviously a tomato based sauce and it’s one of the (few) ingredients in the list, but you hardly notice it’s there. It’s like a pure blended mash of Reaper chilli with a sweetness and in no way reminds me of tomato sauce. Coming back to that ingredient list, look at it! It’s minimalism at its finest. The star of the show, the Carolina Reaper Chilli, with some tomato, sugar, wine, vinegar and salt.
The million dollar question: what’s the heat level like?
It’s a ‘creeper’ as many chilli-head would refer to it as, or as Dave from The Clifton Chilli Club would call it, a ‘creepy uppy‘.
I’m beginning to find with Carolina Reaper chillies that the hit isn’t immediate and there’s no sudden ‘bite’ per se, but once it starts up you know about it. I had a teaspoon just before writing this post up and I’d say the burn lasted for a good 10 to 15 minutes, peaking about 5 minutes in. I wouldn’t say it’s uncomfortably hot though and it’s not one that’s made me go in to a full on sweat with watering eyes – but I’m quite happy with that. I see this as a sauce that will make absolutely incredibly chicken wings, ones with a deep burn but packed full of Naga flavour, and one I’ll happily dip pizza in.
One final note – the website states in the description for this one: ‘This batch has had some Chipotle chillies added for their smoky and rich flavour’. It’s not listed on the label, and I can’t quite identify it in the sauce, but if it’s responsible for making this such an intensely flavoursome sauce, it’s doing the trick.
I’ll be gutted once this is used up and I can only hope for future batches from Gavin.
Rating: 9/10 – (I’ve had to dock a point due to an extremely close first place going to The Sting)
The Sting Extreme Hot Sauce (Trinidad Scorpion)
I’ll start this one by saying that both The Sting and the Carolina Reaper sauces share qualities – everything I’ve said above about the Carolina Reaper sauce applies to The Sting, though there are differences I’ll go through. The same pungent and fruity Naga scent is just as potent and it is, again, a fairly sweet sauce – however, I think I may prefer this one of the Carolina Reaper, and I’ll explain why.
The first thing I noticed with The Sting is the colour – it’s definitely a more vibrant, brighter shade of red. The deeper colour of the Carolina Reaper could potentially be due to the smoked chipotle chillies, or the Reaper’s themselves may be darker, or a combination of both – but The Sting has a beautiful red colour to it.
Consistency wise I’d say The Sting is slightly thinner / runnier, and I think I may actually prefer it for it.
I also immediately noticed chilli seeds / flakes in this one – much more so than the Carolina Reaper. I don’t know if it’s because the consistency is thinner and the colour is brighter so you notice them more – but the Reaper seems more ‘blended’ and The Sting seems to be a ‘looser’ sauce – I actually enjoyed have to munch down a few seeds / bits of chilli flesh when taste testing this one, it gave it some character.
Now here’s the interesting thing – I definitely perceived this one to be the more ‘impactful’ sauce of the two. I use the (non-existent) word ‘impactful’ here because I wouldn’t say ‘hotter’. I would say ‘sharper’, with more of a ‘bite’ and definitely more of an immediate hit. Chillies are interesting like this – I would say in some ways a Birdseye chilli can be more ‘painful’ than a Scotch Bonnet – Birdseye chillies are sharp and intense – Scotch Bonnets are definitely hotter and the burn lasts longer but they both have a different heat profile in the way they hit you.
My lips were tingling / throbbing for quite some time (at least 20 minutes) after having The Sting – and I think Gavin has hit the nail on the head with the name of this one.
So now I’ve got two 180g jars which must be consumed within 3 months when kept refrigerated – challenge accepted! One things for sure – no matter what, these sauces are not going to waste – absolutely first class.
Head over to Curry Frenzy
I’ve been on the mailing list for the Curry Frenzy for quite some time and it’s one of the few product emails I don’t mind landing in my inbox due to things like this cropping up.
Curry Frenzy specialise in all things curry – curry kits, curry powders, recipes, guides and equipment – along with the limited edition section for stuff like these sauces – so popover to http://www.curryfrenzy.com and have a ganders!
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