Thursday, May 13, 2021

Louisiana-Style Hot Sauces

Louisiana-style hot sauces ought to have only three ingredients: Peppers, vinegar, and salt. No thickeners. No preservatives. 

Of those you'll find on the shelf at the supermarket, my favorite is Tabasco. It has the fermented fruity complexity and the just-right level of heat. Nothing tastes quite like Tabasco.

Crystal is very good, too. It has the fruity character of Tabasco, but it isn't aged as long, and it lacks the oak-barrel complexity. It is also significantly milder than Tabasco. For this reason, lots of people swear by it, and I understand that. Crystal is very good indeed. In a universe in which Tabasco never happened, Crystal is my #1. In this universe, it is my #2. 

Interestingly, I'm a fan of more heat than offered by regular Crystal, so you'd think I'd prefer the hotter flanker. Inexplicably, the hotter flanker has xanthan gum, immediately disqualifying it. Despite this, it is only a step or two hotter and hardly worth the effort. Stick with regular Crystal. You can't go wrong. 

Lousiana brand is different and distinctive. It is more smoky and salty and completely without the  fruitiness that marks Tabasco and Crystal. I know of no other Lousiana-style sauce that has this anything approaching this flavor profile, and I'd be very interested to know how it is achieved. I find the hotter version of it quite lovely. I think it is just a hint too salty, though, which is why I don't use it more often. I think this one is severely under-rated. 

Frank's Red Hot. It has garlic in the recipe, so it doesn't meet my standard for ingredients. Nevertheless, it is the world's best-seller. It isn't bad. It isn't good. It has none of the aged character of the above sauces. It is just boring.  

I like Texas Pete better than Frank's, but it has xanthan gum, so it has an unnatural thickness that I find off-putting. If it get past that, Texas Pete has one single note, the earthy pepper note. It is really good at that one note. It is delicious, and when I think about it, it is kind of remarkable. You'd think another note might creep in there. Nope. One note. That's all you get.  

Texas Pete's hotter flanker is fun because it's so fucking hot. I really want to point it out because it is significantly hotter. A lot of the time these flankers claim to be hotter but you try them and you're all like, that was pretty weak for something claiming to be hot. Not a problem here. Hot Texas Pete is hot. It has the one-note Texas Pete with the heat jimmied up to eleven. 

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