Pain Is Good Jalapeno Harissa

I’ve had a couple of Pain Is Good sauces in the past and always remember that they tasted really fresh and almost homemade, so I was really looking forward to this Jalapeno Harissa.

Pain Is Good Jalapeno Harissa comes in a hip-flask shaped bottle, with a pleasingly textured paper label.  The sauce is quite thick, and a deep brown in colour.  All of the harissas I’ve tried in the past have been a bright red colour, so there is obviously something different going on with this sauce.

Wow, this sauce does taste fresh – like it was made yesterday!  A sharp zing of jalapeno hits the taste buds, which is then mellowed with garlic and strong herbs.  An earthy flavour brings depth and body to the sauce, followed by a fresh mint flavour, and then finishes with a lingering heat and coriander flavour.  The heat of the sauce is tame at first, but builds to a tongue-dancing burn as you eat more.  Mild, but interesting heat.  Sounds great eh?!  Hmm I’m not sure.

Pain Is Good Jalapeno Harissa has a very dominating mint flavour, and I think the sauce is a little confused overall.  The acidic jalapeno goes great with the garlic and coriander flavour, but the mint just seems to hold this sauce back and stops it from being something you want to go back to.  Don’t get me wrong, the sauce is nice, but it’s not one that urges you to eat more or add to your food.  I’ve tried this sauce with plenty of foods, and there wasn’t much that it went well with, however if anything it’s best paired with white chicken meat.

What really gets my goat here is that is called ‘Harissa’.  Nope sorry, this is not harissa by any means and I think it’s been badly thought through as a whole.

It’s such as shame that Pain Is Good Jalapeno Harissa is flawed since you can tell it’s a well crafted product, and contains great quality ingredients.  Perhaps if the mint was toned down, some citrus added, and then called something less misleading, this could be a a really great sauce.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Creole Honey Mustard Sauce

I wouldn’t normally buy mustard based sauces since I’m not a fan of the hot yellow seed, but this one caught my eye and I’m ever so pleased I did a couple of reasons. First of all, this sauce is bloody delicious. Secondly, I’ve opened up to mustard in general, and I’m really starting to like it with more and more foods.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Creole Honey Mustard Sauce has a glossy, thick consistency with lots of small bits which give the sauce a natural appearance.  The aroma is sharp mustard, not far away from ‘French’s’, and gives off a good hit of black pepper.  It smells divine, and this aroma from this sauce intensifies when the sauce is cooked.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Creole Honey Mustard Sauce has such a great balance when it comes to taste, this is one of my favourite sauces since four flavour sensations gets delivered separately when tasted.  First you get sweet mellow mustard, which then gets kicked out by a super-tangy mustard-vinegar tang, which is then calmed by a very earthy and warming black pepper spread of heat, finishing off with a tiny bit of chilli heat that rounds the sauce off.

The bits in the sauce seem to be black pepper which gives a prolonged warm pepper flavour in the mouth as you eat more of the sauce, and the sharp, vinegary mustard tang stays present also.

What makes this sauce exceptional is that it’s different with every bite – sometimes you get more black pepper, sometimes you get more chilli heat, but it’s always balanced well with the acidity from the mustard.  It leaves a moreish, slightly acidic after-taste, and a cool chilli and black pepper burn that makes you want to down the entire bottle.

I’ve mainly eaten this sauce with pork and beef steaks, it goes so well with a little charred fat on the edge of steak, the acidity of the sauce is perfect.  Also, this sauce goes great with veggies, it’s excellent on broccoli and cabbage.

This is not a hot sauce, the heat is barley noticeable but it’s so well delivered it doesn’t need to be any hotter.  What this sauce leaves you with after eating is truly delicious.

Certainly a runner for my favourite sauce of 2014, even though it’s not hot! 🙂

 

Tabasco Sweet Chipotle and Cola Sauce & Marinade

Tabasco have got to be one of the biggest hot sauce brands out there right?  I’ve always been surprised by how little they’ve expanded their product range, so I was not surprised to see this Tabasco Sweet Chipotle and Cola Sauce & Marinade in my local Sainsbury’s.

Say the words Tabasco, Chipotle, and Cola in the same sentence to me and I’ll always get very excited, until now.  Yep I’m not impressed with this effort from Tabasco and it’s been hanging out in my cupboard for months now, I keep trying with it different foods either as a sauce or marinade but I just can’t get on with it.

The sauce is very thick and comes out of the bottle quite clumpy, great for a marinade but not great for a table sauce.  The taste is very sweet with a tame cola-ish flavour, which then gets backed up by a slightly smoky heat which is actually quite pokey if you eat enough of it.  Strangely the heat doesn’t hang around when applied to food which is then later cooked (ribs, chicken thighs etc), which is disappointing.

Overall this sauce is overly sweet, quite bland, and doesn’t have any depth.  It could do with some more acidity and perhaps more seasoning.  When you look at the long ingredients list (see image below), it’s not surprising that this sauce just tastes a bit generic and sugary.  It’s such a shame since Tabasco’s core product has only THREE ingredients, all natural, which is a world away from Tabasco Sweet Chipotle and Cola Sauce & Marinade.

Not impressed Tabasco, you need to try much harder than this.

 

Jalapeno, lime, & coriander chilli sauce recipe

I’m all up for spending a couple of hours in the kitchen coming up with a crafted chilli sauce recipe, but sometimes you want to come up with something quick and that will work every time.

Well, here’s a little quick chilli sauce recipe I make now and again which is so easy to do, you don’t even need to bottle it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large jar of pickled green jalapenos  (I buy the big tall jars from Tesco or if I’m in town the poundshop!  The Discovery or Uncle Bens smaller jars are fine but a lot more expensive most of the time pack less heat.
  • 2 limes
  • A handful of fresh coriander, stalks on (cilantro)
  • Salt & Pepper

Method:

  1. Add the jalapenos to a blender or food processor with all the liquid from the jar.
  2. Add some of the coriander, juice of one lime, and salt  and pepper.
  3. Bliitz to the consistency you want (chunky or smooth), and taste.  Here it’s up to you whether you add more coriander and lime, I usually add juice on another lime and a lot of coriander.
  4. If you need to loosen the consistency just add a touch of water or white wine vinegar and blitz.

You can bottle or jar this, and it will keep in the fridge well for at least a couple of months – but it’s best eaten fresh.

 

Some of my favourite chilli sauce recipes

Making your own hot sauce or chilli sauce is extremely rewarding since you are in control of the heat, flavour, consistency, and sometimes colour. Making your own can also be very economical if you are using your own home-grown chillies, or reduced-to-clear chillies from a shop.

Usually I take a few chilli sauce recipes that I like the look of, and tweak them depending on how I want my sauce to turn out. There are thousands of sauce recipes available on the internet so it can be hard to find one that suits what your after, so once you find a good one start to build on that.

Don’t use exclusively dried chillies for a hot sauce, a lot of the fresh flavour from the chilli will have been lost in the drying process, and you will be left with more harsh heat than flavour. That said, you can combine dried chillies with fresh chillies which is useful if you’re looking to add heat from some dried chillies. I currently have a load of dried Naga chillies which are great for adding to other fresh chillies if I want to make a really hot sauce.

If you’re making a table sauce (thick consistency). you may want to consider using ‘Xantham Gum’, which you can buy online or get from some large supermarkets…  It’s a natural binder and will stop your sauces from separating when left to settle, and will also give you a thick, pourable consistency.

Here a few of my favourite Hot Sauce recipes:

Master Hot Sauce – A simple sauce to get you started

Make your own Tabasco

Make your own Franks Red Hot sauce

Slow cooker Bacon Jam

Chilli Jam – Amazing with cheeses and sandwiches

Flavourful mild and hot chilli sauces

Homemade Sriracha

A nice Mexican style sauce

And finally, how Making Your Own Hot Sauce Will Change Your Life

 

Let me know your favourite recipes in the comments below.

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