How to pick a sauce

Here at The Chilli Alchemist, we are passionate about chillies. They are incredibly versatile and each have their own flavour notes. Imagine you were blind folded and somebody gave you a Granny Smith apple to eat and then a Pink Lady apple. One is sharp, crunchy and acidic whereas the other is sweet, perfumed and softer. Despite being blindfolded, even if you couldn’t identify the different varieties, you would know that you have eaten two different types of apple. Chillies aren’t much different. They each have their own flavour profile with an underling capsicum taste. Of course, the heat varies and you should always seek to use chilli to a level where you are comfortable. There is no shame in using a medium or mild sauce if that sits within your comfort zone. The more you eat chilli, the higher your tolerance can become but who says you should push yourself? Ignore bravado, don’t worry about anyone else, and enjoy chilli your way.

When we make a chilli sauce, the first thing we consider is the flavour notes of the chilli we want to showcase. We could just make a sauce, drop in some chilli and call it a ‘hot sauce’ but we don’t. We make genuine chilli sauces where the unique fruit is the star of the show.

Sauce name: The Smoke Potion    

Heat level: Mild

Chilli used: Chipotle (smoked red Jalapeno)

Pour on rating: 10

Marinade rating: 6

Stir through rating: 10

 

Chipotle stems from Mexico. Traditionally, it is a red jalapeno which has been smoked over pecan wood and dried. We are purists and stick with this wood type and chilli however, there is an argument that chipotle can be any smoked chilli using any wood. We’re not looking for an argument, we just like the traditional style. Red chillies are sweeter than their unripe green state which is why we like the red smoked jalapeno. They lend themselves to the tomato base we use and pair well with garlic. The soy sauce in this sauce is used for seasoning and natural colour.

The Smoke Potion is, as the name suggests, a smoky sauce which is designed for use with BBQ meats. If you eat meat, this is an ideal coating for your ribs – just smother it over for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking. A great burger sauce and lovely stirred through chilli con carne. However, smoky flavours can work with so many dishes. Try stirring through your tomato soup. Add a touch to each layer of an aubergine and mozzarella stack.

The acidity of this sauce is not high and, as it contains a little brown sugar, it’s not the ideal marinade unless you are using thin strips of meat. Sugars can caramelise and ultimately burn if cooked for too long or on a high heat. The Smoke Potion is a great pour on or stir through sauce.

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Sauce name: AuRum 

Heat level: Mild/Medium

Chilli used: Aji Amarillo

Pour on rating: 10

Marinade rating: 3

Stir through rating: 8

 

The South American Aji Amarillo chilli is not a particularly common chilli in the UK but it has an exceptional flavour. It’s a medium hot chilli with notes of tropical fruits and citrus. It’s classed as a yellow chilli but has a more orange/copper colour.

We were keen to use this chilli but in a non-traditional way. AuRum is a blend of South America and the Caribbean. We use a lot of fresh mango, spiced rum and a squeeze of lime to compliment the flavours of the Amarillo. The sauce is verging on Bajan in its style with the addition of vanilla bean and spices however, whilst the Scotch Bonnet may be a more traditional chilli to use, we prefer the Amarillo for its flavour and character in this sauce.

Naturally yellow, this sauce is light and fruity. It’s sweet but naturally so as we do not add sugar. The fresh mango provides all the sweetness needed. This sauces makes a great pour on sauce and dressing. Try tossing it through your salad for an alternative to overly acidic commercial dressings. Want to try something different? Add it to your stir fry. Noodles, prawns, peppers, baby corn…need we say more? You can also use this sauce on ice cream or stirred through cheesecake! Much like The Smoke Potion, the acidty level of this sauce isn’t very high so marinating isn’t ideal but not out of the question. Cover your diced chicken breast with AuRum, leave in a bowl in the fridge overnight and skewer.

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Sauce name: The Red King 

Heat level: Medium

Chilli used: Cayenne

Pour on rating: 9

Marinade rating: 6

Stir through rating: 10

 

When used fresh, Cayenne chilli has a beautiful, sweet, deep red berry flavour with hints of cherry tomato. We created The Red King as we love this chilli and have grown tired of only finding it in dried, powdered form commercially. It’s a deep, rich sauce with a nod to Mediterranean style sauces. As we try to keep our sauces low sugar or sugar free, we slow roast a lot of garlic for this sauce. We wait until it is dark and sticky before adding it to the pan. The natural, caramelised sweetness is incredible and the roasting process takes away the harsh edge that unroasted garlic can have. With the flavour notes of the Cayenne chilli in mind, we add tomato, red onion, balsamic, cracked black pepper and fresh herbs.

If medium heat sauces are your limit, this is a great product to add in to your meals. We love stirring it through bolognaise. It’s a great sauce for coating meats too. Pan fry a chicken breast and add this sauce for the last few minutes of cooking, ensuring that you coat the meat well. Serve with paprika coated potatoes. Try it on top of a salmon fillet. Smear on top and grill to your liking.

The mix of balsamic and white wine vinegar allows for this sauce to be used as a marinade but, due to the depth and complexity of the sauce, we feel it is better used as a topper or stir through condiment.

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Sauce name: The Philosopher’s Dew 

Heat level: Medium/Hot

Chilli used: Green Jalapeno

Pour on rating: 10

Marinade rating: 7

Stir through rating: 9

 

Most people know of the humble green Jalapeno but are used to it being pickled and served on top of pizza or nachos. When used fresh, this chilli has a lovely earthy flavour with a pleasant bitterness. It was an easy decision for us to pair this chilli with matcha green tea which has similar flavour notes and helps give this sauce its natural green colour.

We use 50% jalapeno in this sauce and, so not to detract from its flavour, we use a neutral tasting rice vinegar as the preserving ingredient. Fresh ginger and garlic are used for an extra layer of flavour and honey is used to balance out the more bitter notes. What you get is a jalapeno flavoured sauce like no other.

The Philosopher’s Dew is thicker sauce than average as we work to keep texture. It’s awesome stirred through humus if you would like an interesting and alternative dip. Marinade your dark meats (especially lamb) or use as a steak sauce. Try tossing your fresh cooked green vegetables in this sauce, it’s delicious! You can also mix this sauce with coconut milk for an instant green curry style sauce. Just add your favourite meat &/or vegetables along with a handful of fresh coriander.

The Jalapeno is considered to be a mild chilli however, as we use so much of it in this sauce, it’s surprisingly warm. We classify it as medium-hot however, if this is too much heat for you, don’t be put off. Once you mix it with humus or stir it through a meal, the heat dials back and the flavour remains.

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Sauce name: Purus 

Heat level: Hot

Chilli used: Cayenne and Naga Jolokia (Ghost Pepper)

Pour on rating: 10

Marinade rating: 10

Stir through rating: 10

 

Purus is a Latin word meaning ‘pure’ or ‘clean’. It’s the perfect name for this sauce as it is fresh and unadulterated. We use a lot of fresh Cayenne chillies for their sweet flavour and add fresh Naga Jolokia for a touch of deeper fruit flavours and heat. There are just a few supporting ingredients in this sauce and its sugar free. This isn’t just a hot sauce, this is a genuine chilli sauce.

As the primary flavour of this sauce is the chillies, it is extremely versatile. It’s a fantastic marinade for any meat but equally good used as a pour on sauce or stir through sauce. If you are comfortable with heat (it’s not crazy hot), then this is a great condiment for you. If you happen to live with someone who doesn’t like heat and have to add chilli to your own meal separately, then this ticks the box for most people. Try mixing it on with home-made salsa or adding to your lasagne.

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Sauce name: The Smoke Potion: Magnum Opus 

Heat level: Hot

Chilli used: Smoked Naga Jolokia (Ghost Pepper) and Smoked Red Jalapeno (Chipotle)

Pour on rating: 10

Marinade rating: 6

Stir through rating: 10

 

This is our best-selling, multi-award winning sauce. Using a blend of two fruity, sweet chillies which have been smoked using hickory (Ghost Pepper) and pecan (chipotle) woods. The sauce is the ‘bigger brother’ to our milder The Smoke Potion and has been twisted with Jack Daniel’s Honey Bourbon and a touch of mustard. ‘Magnum Opus’ is Latin for ‘great work’. Forgive us for blowing our own trumpet but we are very proud of this sauce which we bourn through customer feedback.

This is a smoky sauce which is designed for use with BBQ meats. If you eat meat, this is an ideal coating for your ribs – just smother it over for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking. A great burger sauce and lovely stirred through chilli con carne. However, smoky flavours can work with so many dishes. Try stirring through your tomato soup. Add a touch to each layer of an aubergine and mozzarella stack.

The acidity of this sauce is not high and, as it contains a little brown sugar, it’s not the ideal marinade unless you are using thin strips of meat. Sugars can caramelise and ultimately burn if cooked for too long or on a high heat. The Smoke Potion: Magnum Opus is a great pour on or stir through sauce. We also produce a beef jerky using this sauce as the marinade and make a mayonnaise using this product.

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Sauce name: The Everlasting Flame 

Heat level: Very Hot

Chilli used: Fresh Red Habanero

Pour on rating: 7

Marinade rating: 10

Stir through rating: 10

 

There’s a clue in the title of this sauce! There’s no two ways about it, it’s pretty darn hot! We use a lot of fresh red habanero chillies in this sauce. In addition, we add a whisper of natural cayenne chilli extract in order to keep the heat lasting for longer. It’s not for the feint hearted and recommended to those who have a good tolerance to heat.

The habanero chilli originates from South America and translates as ‘from Havana’. It has a great citrus flavour to it so we add a little lime to this sauce to help accentuate. It has a fresh, lively flavour with a medium to light texture. It marries well with both pork and lamb but can be used with all meats. If the heat is too much but the flavour is up your street, try mixing in to mayonnaise or crème fraiche. For something different, marinade cubes of lamb overnight, toast some coconut, cook the lamb in the oven (cooking in a pan may create uncomfortable chilli fumes!) and coat in the coconut.  

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