“Ooft” is produced by Island Girl, a hot sauce maker based in Scotland but with Caribbean heritage. The website states, “Our premier quality pepper sauce is made from pure ingredients hand blended to create a special Caribbean flavor”, and tells the customer a little about the history of the development of “Ooft”, which is based on a recipe originally used by the proprietor’s father in Trinidad.
Bottle kindly supplied by Island Girl.
The labelling is evocative of the Caribbean, using the red, black and white of the Trinidadian flag on a sunset background, and gives the customer some suggestions on how the sauce could be used.The labels are a reasonable size so that it is easy to see the product in the bottle, but still has space for information needed by the customer.The sauce itself is an appealing orange colour, with seeds and bright red flecks of chilli clearly visible suspended in its body.
On opening the bottle, the aroma is exactly what you would expect of a product with a high scotch bonnet chilli content – though there is a sharp vinegar smell beneath the scent of the peppers.
In terms of texture, this is a sauce with good body.There is plenty of pulp from the chillies and other ingredients such as daikon (a mild flavoured radish also known as “mooli” in the UK) which presumably has been used as a bulking ingredient, and chosen so that it would not disturb the balance of flavour.There is a certain silkiness and viscosity to the sauce, due to the inclusion of olive oil in the process.
According to the website: “Well known to users of social media, the exclamation OOFT! means a pleasant surprise, a shock, but a good one.” Does the product match up to the marketing?
Scotch bonnet peppers (40%), garlic, daikon, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, salt, olive oil.
There is an immediate strong bonnet flavour to the sauce, and it is surprisingly not as sharp as the vinegary smell would lead you to expect. The garlic and lime are not really present in the flavours as it is eaten, but the garlic is sensed as an after-taste.
Going by its placing in the ingredients list the salt content of the sauce is not high, but the flavour is salty and became progressively saltier when more of the sauce was tasted on its own. However, this is far less noticeable when the sauce is used as a condiment in accompaniment to a meal, as it is meant to be used.
There is instant heat from the sauce, which builds to a pleasant, lingering tingle with each additional mouthful.
Overall, this is what we would expect of a well-made Caribbean fermented mash based hot sauce, and is certainly far superior to the “well-known brand” of West Indian hot sauce available from supermarkets.
“Ooft” is available from Island Girl priced at £3.50 for a 100ml bottle (plus postage). Volume discounts are offered when ordering multiple bottles, bringing the price down to £2.67 per bottle if ordering a batch of 12 – so planning a bulk purchase among friends may be worth considering.