Hot Sauce: A Global Ingredient
Essentially, hot sauce has been used in cooking since the first chile pepper was plucked from a plant. One of the initial variety to become popular was referred to as cayenne sauce and was distributed in the United States in the early 1800's. It is reported that the first cayenne sauce sold in bottles occured in Massachusetts in 1807. During those times, hot sauce was found more in the southern U.S., especially where cajun style food was popular, such as Louisiana.
Today, there is a wide array of hot sauce available throughout America. Most of these consist of a chili pepper, vinegar and salt. The most popular peppers used in hot sauce production are the previously mentioned cayenne, jalapeno and habanero. These sauces have gained popularity in recent years as a side to almost any food imaginable including scrambled eggs and, of course, to dip the ever popular Buffalo wing.
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In the US, Louisiana hot sauce is made from red chile peppers. A New Mexico variety is produced without the presence of vinegar. Almost all customary New Mexican dishes will include this style of hot sauce made from either green or red chile peppers. Even Hawaii enjoys the distinct flavor afforded by hot sauce, but there it is called Chili Pepper water and is made from chiles, garlic, salt and water.
In the West Indies, hot sauce is a favorite ingredient in Caribbean cuisine. This is a potent concoction featuring Scotch bonnet or habanero peppers with the addition of vegetables and fruit for an enhanced flavor.
Europe claims what are purported to be possibly the two hottest of all natural sauces. The natural refers to the exclusion of any pepper extract. They were developed in the United Kingdom and are called the "Naga Viper" and infinity chili.
You may be surprised to learn even China, Japan and Africa have their own hot sauce. In China, these are normally thicker than what we are use to domestically and are most often used as a dipping sauce or paste in conjunction with stirfrying. Japan utilizes a La Yu or Rayu chile oil. This is, in many cases, added to Gyoza, a type of Chinese dumpling. The African variety is named Harissa and is used as a condiment along with many different foods.
No matter where you reside or travel throughout the world, the one constant with hot sauce is that it will not disappoint in adding a unique and satisfying flavor as a complement to any food of your choice.
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