Is your love life lacking SPICE? Are you looking to heat things up in the bedroom? Do you also enjoy the sweet, fiery burn of habanero chili on scrambled eggs? Then you’ll love these hot sauces!!!! (Disclaimer: please do not put hot sauce anywhere near your genitals).
This Valentine’s Day, we asked London chefs about the condiments they reach for when adding an extra kick to dipping sauces, quesadillas, and stews. They did not disappoint. Read on for a scorching selection of red hot sauces from Malaysia to Mexico.
Is it … uh … is it hot in here?
Zijun Meng and Ana Gonçalves, the pair behind Portuguese Chinese restaurant Ta Ta Eatery
We like to use the Tabasco Chipotle Smoky Barbecue sauce on a few of our dishes, but have constantly been using it on our ox cheek quesadilla. We season our braised ox cheeks with caramelised onions, oregano, and the Tabasco Chipotle sauce—the sweet smokiness is what we are looking for. We also use it at home all the time to season beef tartar and eggs.
Z He, co-founder of Cantonese-style restaurants Bun House, Tea Room, and Pleasant Lady
My all-time favourite chili sauce is Chao Tian Garlic Chili, found in most Asian supermarkets. My problem with choosing chili sauce is that I often don't find them hot enough, but this one only needs a small scoop to get big heat! Most importantly, the fragrance of the chili and the garlic isn’t overpowered by the heat. I use this chili sauce to make a lot of my dippings. My go-to quick dipping sauce for dumplings or any light poached dishes would be a heaped spoon of dark fermented rice vinegar, a small dash of oyster sauce, and a scoop of Chao Tian Garlic Chili sauce. To finish, add a few drops of sesame oil and you’ve got yourself a banging dip!
Ryan McCann, co-founder of Taco Queen
My favourite hot sauce is, of course, Mexican: El Yucateco XXXtra Habanero Hot Sauce. It's everything I'm looking for: smokey, vinegary, and a deep burn without overpowering softer flavours like chicken and fish. I tend to go nuts with this at breakfast as it's perfect with black beans, eggs, and bacon. It's never unwelcome on my plate, however, as it is in my mind, the perfect hot sauce.
Sandia Chang, co-founder of Bubbledogs and Kitchen Table
My favourite hot sauce is Tabasco. I like the vinegar in it, it not only adds spice to food but also a bit of acidity. I use it in almost everything from soups to stews to stir-fries. My favourite is mixing it with ketchup to have with my eggs in the morning.
Sugen Gopal, founder of Malaysian eateries Gopal’s Corner and Roti King
I grew up on Maggi Malaysian Chili Sauce, which is available in most leading UK supermarkets and East Asian grocery stores, including Wing Yip in Cricklewood and Loong Fung in Chinatown. It’s a great accompaniment to our Malaysian-style fried chicken (ayam goreng berempah) and my kids now really enjoy the flavours, so we use it as a bit of a table sauce with them to spice up their burgers.
Andrew Wong, founder of Chinese restaurants A Wong and Kym’s
My favourite hot sauce is one that’s homemade in the Seychelles by my mother-in-law but it’s not for the fainthearted as it literally burns your arsehole open.
Other than that, I like to use Lao Gan Ma chili oil with black beans (in the restaurant, we just call it “grandma’s sauce”). It’s a kitchen staple and is really versatile—you can use in stir-fries to boost the umami or you can spoon it on any dish at the end to finish it off with a rich chili kick. At Kym’s, I use it on the pork and shrimp bao bao: soup dumplings cooked in a skillet with two fried eggs, topped with chili oil, spring onion, crispy shallots, and toasted sesame seeds.
Margot Henderson, chef and co-founder of Rochelle Canteen
Lao Gan Ma black bean chili sauce. This is such a yummy funky sauce, it’s got it all going on. I love the depth and width of flavour, not just the heat. Great on meat and fish, it has gorgeous heat with fermented fishy flavour and crazy crispy texture—it’s really yummy.
My son Hector makes a great fermented hot sauce that blows your head off. He makes it for all our Christmas presents and it lasts the year. Another favourite is Dunn’s River Jamaican Hot Sauce. It seems to be go down very well when barbecuing quails or chicken, and is great when marinating dishes as well. A big family favourite.