January 2014

Pique (pronounced ‘Pee-kay’, not ‘Peek’ in this instance, I am delightfully informed) is originally from Puerto Rico.  There are many different styles and recipes of how to make Pique, mainly by steeping a selection of ingredients in vinegar and using it to enhance soups and stews and such.  Stuart at Hot-Headz has worked on this basis and created a great sauce.

Ingredients: 

Water, Pineapple, Cane Vinegar, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid (natural preservatives), Salt, Laurel, Habanero Chillies (15%), Garlic, Cilantro (coriander), Black Pepper, Aniseed, Xanthan Gum (natural thickener), Parsley, Sweet Pepper, Olive Oil.

In a 148ml bottle with the standard Hot-Headz branding with a gradient from bright green on the base to dark red at the top.  This sauce is a deep orange filled with very fine herb and fruit pulp.  it pours relatively thinly.  The first thing I can smell is the garlic and cilantro (coriander to us Brits) which reminds me of italian dishes.  The Parsley gives it a relatively mild earthy tone which grounds this sauce well.  The initial taste is mainly vinegary with a very strong Parsley aftertaste just before the Habanero kicks in. 

There is a slight sweetness but the sharpness of the vinegar soon sorts that out.  Sadly I cannot taste any pineapple with the sauce but I feel its mild flavour pulls everything together.  The Habanero heat gives a punch after the first taste and lingers all over the mouth.  Its a relatively mild burn compared to some.  This sauce pulls the Habanero heat away from being overbearing and gives just enough to allow the other flavours to show through before making its rightful place on your tastebuds.

Pique is best tried with soups, stir fries and stews as an addition to any meal.  Try it as a marinade too, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Available from Hot-Headz directly for £3.99 in a 148ml bottle.

Flavour
(5/10)
Heat
(7/10)
Packaging
(8/10)
Value (6/10)
Overall
(6/10)

 

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Lily’s Chillis are a husband and wife team with the company named after their daughter. They are already winner of Fiery Foods Amateur Best Taste award for their Lime & Ginger Chilli jelly. Like many Sussex and even UK companies Lily’s Chillis pride themselves on locally sourced ingredients. I have been fortunate to try several of their past limited edition jelly products including the special @Thelurch fireman’s jelly. But until today I had not tried one of their ketchups.

From experience I know that a lot of care goes into Lilys products, so checking out their website for further information on their ketchup range it goes on the explain. All their ketchups are made in small batches and bottled by hand. Using fresh local produce is key, so local Sussex tomatoes and chillies sourced in the UK are used in every bottle. No thickeners or gums are used to produce their lovely sauces, just hours of gentle reduction on the stove.

The label is basic with the great touch of shiny red font and has a nice homemade feel to it. Simple but it needs nothing more, this is ketchup, no pictures of demons, fires or volcanoes etc required.

On the label you will also find the text “the original and the best- this fiery chilli ketchup is crammed full of tomatoes and bursting with flavour. Add the kickass heat of scotch bonnets and you’re a winner….. Great with bacon and eggs, and burgers, and hotdogs and…. You name it.”

Ingredients:

Tomatoes (made with 200g per 100g of ketchup), onions, white wine vinegar, sugar, Scotch Bonnet chillies (2%) garlic, spices, salt, black peppercorns

Bottle kindly supplied by Lilys chillies

Before you open the bottle you can see that the sauce is a nice thick, pulpy consistency. The hours on the stove have also given the sauce a dark concentrated look and will have hopefully locked in a deep natural tomato flavour together with the fruity Scotch Bonnet. My concern before opening the bottle claiming to be fiery is the mere 2% Scotch Bonnet, will that be enough.

Cracking open the seal on this generous bottle you can see that this is a very high quality sauce. You can’t smell the fruitiness of the scotch bonnet, instead your sense are greeted with rich concentrated tomato aromas. The texture is wonderful; you can feel the time taken to reduce the tomatoes. On your tongue you can feel pieces of tomato but not in a way to detract from the taste or make the sauce lumpy it is a perfect balance. While caught up in the beautiful sweet ketchup taste, I almost forget to look for the chilli. That’s because it is more subtle than expected, no hit or sense of it in the first mouthful when you are taken over by the quality of the tomatoes, but then you get a gentle background build that is very pleasant. I had hoped this heat build would continue but unfortunately the time taken to build to a peak isn’t too long and the heat soon dies away.

The solution is to simply eat more though! With Lily rating this as a 2/3 on their heat scale I think it would be more worthy of a 1/3. Perhaps the batch I have is a little low on chilli content; perhaps the 2% isn’t enough for this large bottle? Nevertheless this is really tasty ketchup! I would say it’s good for the whole family and definitely better than the chemical filled alternatives on our shelves. The Lilys range is for both foodies and chilli heads and this ketchup continues the trend. This bottle is now the standard in my house for all bacon sarnies!

High quality ketchup suitable for all providing a fruity warmth and natural feel to anything you can pour it over. Lovely to have in the cupboard for everyday use, or as a gift for anyone. I have also noted Lily do a smoky version too so I’m off to get hold of some of that……..

250g bottle is £3.85 – a lower prices than some other producers 100ml bottles go for

All suitable for vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs.

Flavour
(8/10)
Heat
(2/10)
Packaging
(7/10)
Value (7/10)
Overall
(7/10)

 

 

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So you may be thinking that having a Lucha Libre mask on a bottle is a bit of a gimmick.  After all, we see a lot of sauces that claim to be ‘Traditional Mexican’ sauces but are made far, far away, and the only traditional thing about them are perhaps one or two ingredients that are now grown in the UK.  Let me quash those thoughts like a Luchador would Camel Clutch his opponents into sumbission!

Rolando Cardenas, the man behind the sauces, learned all the family secrets and flavours as a boy.  Developing them onwards to the sauces you see today.  Not only are the flavours and recipies traditional, the wrestling is real.  I’m lucky to have met the KanKun Luchador previously and we wrestle in similar circles!

Ingredients:
Habanero Chilli (85%), White Vinegar, Water, Salt, Xanthan Gum.
Gluten Free, Nut Free (Including factory), Suitable for Vegetarians.

This 150ml bottle has a very professional glossy label.  Pale background with red and black text.  A yellow lucha mask sits on the front with a little yellow ‘Extra hot’ warning above the text.  The sauce inside is a beautiful peachy red and looks relatively viscous, filled with small pieces of flesh and seed.  It has that unmistakable Habanero scent, which is warning enough that this sauce means business.  A little whiff of vinegar, but the Habanero is the real deal.

This sauce comes with a dropper lid, and for good reason!  Only a few drops on the tongue sends an instant signal to your saliva glands for them to start producing more juice.  The irresistable smokey Habanero flavour fills your mouth with a warm sensation.  The tip of your tongue, the inside of your lips and the roof of your mouth start to feel like they’re glowing.  There is no taste of vinegar, none.  Just the full flavour of the chilli and a little saltiness.  

I think Habaneros are under appreciated in sauces, but this sauce truly gives you all the raw flavour of this chilli without any other complex ingredients.  The guys at KanKun suggest this sauce on grilled beef, chicken and fish.  I can personally see this with a nice smokey grilled fish.The bottle also says ‘The range of uses for KanKun Habanero Sauce is greater than the number of threads of Pancho Villa’s Poncho!’  I agree.This sauce, with it being a single flavour sauce can be used in so many ways.Give it a try as an additive in your curry or chilli.  If you’re new to hot sauces and don’t have much of a tolerance for heat you can use just a couple of drops in your cooking to raise the heat level fractionally and add a new dimension to your cooking. 

The KanKun Habanero Sauce is available from Hotheads, Amazon and MexGrocer all for the astonishing price of £2.99.  BARGAIN!

Flavour
(10/10)
Heat
(7/10)
Packaging
(9/10)
Value (10/10)
Overall
(10/10)

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Named after the traditional name for the country their recipes originate from, Rwanda; owned and run by Stephanie Kayirangwa and Natt Boarer who bring the authentic flavours Rwandan dining table sauces to us, made right here in Portsmouth!

Stuffed generously into a 110ml jar, the Garlic Chilli sauce is bright yellow, filled with bits and flesh in a rather thick consistency. The label strips around the jar where the ‘1000’ has an overlay of some of the hills.The rest of the label is covered with a thick yellow smoke effect.

Ingedients: 

Onion, Garlic, Yellow Pepper, Vegetable Oil, Ciric Acid, Scotch Bonnet Chilli, Salt, and Other Spices.
May contain traces of nuts.

Upon opening the jar, I am overpowered by garlic.I don’t think I could smell more garlic if I was peeling it myself.Subtle hints of Scotch Bonnet heat sneak in behind the garlic and gently warm your nostrils to its presence.

Surprisingly, the first taste isn’t as garlic filled as I was expecting.  Yes, there is no doubt there is garlic there, but I taste something else first. Onion.The onion softens the garlic flavour, stops the sting from the aftertaste of garlic and encourages your mouth to water.Slowly afterwards the Scotch Bonnet heat comes gently massaging your tongue with its hot fingers.The vegetable oil makes sure that the heat from the Scotch Bonnet gets into every area possible for a good slow burn which lets you really appreciate it. 

Mix it with a little mayonnaise or yoghurt as a dip choice, or stir it through mashed potato are just two suggestions from Thousand Hills.If you’re feeling particularly lazy when cooking and want a double punch of heat and garlic; add a teaspoon of this to your meal (spaghetti bolognese sauce for example, or even in a chilli con carne).Use as an additive in cooking, or simply as a bit of a relish on a burger. 

Available from their website for only £2.50 for 110ml.Worth a good try for all you garlic lovers.

Flavour
(5/10)
Heat
(6/10)
Packaging
(9/10)
Value (7/10)
Overall
(6/10)

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