Jamopepper

From Unique Fine Foods we have a green harisssa paste from their UniqueArabia range to sample and review. I have to say I have tried many red harissa pastes but never a green one before so I was interested to see if there was any real difference.

Unique Foods Green Harissa Paste

On the label “A delicious hot paste, a little goes a long way! why not try spreading over chicken before cooking or stir into a dip to add a kick” The label is that of a standard cooking condiment easily stored with your other spices. The jar is mini at only 90g but most harissa pastes are of a similar size so this is not a negative

Ingredients: Green peppers, green chilli (41.5%) olive oil, garlic, salt, spinach, caraway seeds, coriander, mint, lactic acid.

My first thoughts, is that’s a very precise amount of chilli listed in the ingredients, will the 0.5% make a difference? On opening the jar you are greeted with a combination of fresh aromas as if this was recently blended but they soon die away to the predicted processed dullness that is necessary to keep products like this alive. With the list of ingredients of was expecting a bouquet of flavours to hit my taste buds. Unfortunately not much happened, not wishing to do the product injustice I experimented for a couple of weeks adding to lamb kebabs, basting chicken and creating dips alongside bread and olives. I have to say this greatly improved the flavours. I believe it would also not be too overpowering on a nice fresh white baked fish. As for heat, I couldn’t detect any at all, not even gentle background warmth you generally get on consumer products. So this is not one for the chilli heads but one for the experimental cooks.

Unfortunately the Unique Fine Foods website is built and appears active but has virtually no content at time of checking in December 2015 see for your self as things may have changed by the time this review is posted http://www.uniquefinefoods.co.uk/ There is also a facebook group but the last post on this one is February 2015. I’m hoping the organisation is still going as they appear to have several brands. None of which I recognise but they cover a variety of interesting foods from around the world and appear to offer the service of getting new products onto the UK market.

I can’t find any current stockists but located a historic mention on Sainsbury’s with a mini review of “Good for lamb & other meats, & for vegetables. Can use in soups & stews. Interesting flavour profile that’s worth a try”

In Sainsbury’s the price was £1.60 so I’m guessing if you can still find it the price should be around there.

Flavour
(4/10)
Heat
(0/10)
Packaging
(4/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(4/10)

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Encona African Peri Peri SauceIt was not until 1975 that Econa first introduced their Hot Pepper Sauce range under the ‘Encona’ name and they haven’t looked back since. Having served the Caribbean community in the UK for over 40 years supplying quality sauces prepared to original recipes and containing blends of the most authentic chillies, spices and ingredients. Their iconic square embossed glass bottle has become the category symbol for quality, trust and delicious, authentic flavours in this community.

Encona now has a range of over 20 sauces and marinades. Today they have kindly provided me with a bottle of their African Peri Peri sauce to review.

Ingredients: Water, Chilli Mash (Chillies, Water, Acetic Acid, Salt ), Spirit Vinegar, Lemon Juice Concentrate, Lemon Rind, Salt, Modified Maize Starch, Rapeseed Oil, Sugar, Garlic Puree, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Stabiliser: Xanthan Gum, Birds Eye Chilli, Preservative, Potassium Sorbate, Colour, Paprika extract.

Their bottles are different to most with the square embossed glass and their labels are very to the point matching as a larger set and just telling you what is inside, usually with a small picture to match the flavour. In this case the bottle has a giraffe. Encona African Peri-Peri Sauce claims to explore the taste of Africa by using a special blend of African birds eye chillies, aromatic garlic, zesty lemon and spices, to me the aroma is certainly zesty and you can even see some of the spices in the sauce. Overcoming this aroma though is a rather chemical feel of the different preservatives and stabilising that are necessary for a sauce produced on this scale. I did find the sauce rather tasty though often reaching for more to add to my food, it does fit the bill of a basic Peri-Pieri sauce with the right flavours and heat coming through to your taste buds so you won’t be disappointed. I am a sucker for the sauces from a certain chicken restaurant though so in my head I am making the comparison and though they taste similar one is clearly above the rest, but this may be down to personal preference.

Encona Sauces are certainly versatile. You can use them as a dipping sauce, a marinade, a cooking ingredient or just an everyday table sauce. They can even be easily used to drizzle into stir-fries, rice dishes, dips and salad dressings. Being a Peri-Peri sauce this sauce lends itself naturally to chicken and great for a dollop onto burgers too.

This is a sauce for the consumer not for the enthusiast, that said if you like the taste go for it you can find it in all good supermarkets and you still get a tasty hit. Would I buy other sauces in this range, yes but they would be more of a tasty table sauce for use rather than to expand my hot sauce stash.

Flavour
(5/10)
Heat
(4/10)
Packaging
(6/10)
Value (5/10)
Overall
(5/10)

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Something I was not expecting to receive to review but was most welcomed, a product kindly supplied by Seggiano, their Crema di Peperoncino Chilli Paste.

Reggiano Crema di Peperoncino Chilli PasteSeggiano is the name of the small hilltop village on Monte Amiata in southern Tuscany, where Peri Eagleton and David Harrison have farmed organic olives since 1985. Twenty years ago they started selling their local Olivastra Seggianese extra virgin olive oil and a selection of artisan foods from small family food producers. This quickly grew into their brand today ‘Seggiano’, named in honour of the village where the story started.

Italians have a passion for food; I should know my girlfriend is Italian! Often the food is simple and made with the finest ingredients one can source to create a wonderful taste experience. That said there is a lot of bad Italian around where people do not follow these rules, just churning out any old pasta dish and charging the public for the privilege. Seggiano appear to have stuck to their principles and although clearly doing well, exporting far and wide, keep the honoured traditions alive and haven’t gone too mainstream. Indeed their website states “When we say handmade, we mean handmade. Our artisan food is freshly prepared in small batches using current harvest ingredients”

Ingredients: Fresh Calabrian Chillies 80%, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Wine Vinegar, Salt.

The packaging is not eye-catching and more that of an ingredient of basic food stuff you keep in the cupboard ready. Italians though not known for keeping things quiet and understated often let their food speak for itself. However I feel I am being a little harsh as this is not a hot sauce but a quality ingredient so perhaps it is well labelled.

The jar is beautifully packed full of chilli’s with a deep red colour, you can see the whole chilli is used with all the seeds packed in too. The Naso di Cane is a variety of chilli or peperoncino, which is specific to Calabria. The name derives from the entertaining fact that the small angular shape of the pepper is undeniably reminiscent of a dog’s nose. Its robust, yet rounded flavour has an unusual depth, which is impossible to find in your average run-of-the-mill chilli sauce. The aroma is sweet, mellow and peppery and does not give away any expectation of heat. The texture is that of a roasted sweet pepper with the seeds adding in a bit of variety. Initially no heat hits you but then gently and unexpectedly a wonderful warmth fills your mouth. The actual flavour is a little difficult to describe, it is not one I am familiar with from my experience off so many chilli’s. I am likely doing the chilli a great disservice by saying this but to help you imagine a flavour it is a little like a peppadew you can purchase from any deli counter in the UK, however this has a much more sophisticated depth and warmth of flavour. So far I have tried this product straight on top of bruschetta, stirred into Bolognese, and as the main source of heat in a crab linguini every time this produce performed. Seggiano have done a great job and provided a true quality ingredient.

If you like the product enough you can even holiday on their farm if you wanted to. Then you can not only taste the dream but live the Italian dream too!

Flavour
(8/10)
Heat
(5/10)
Packaging
(4/10)
Value Prices will vary for this product depending on where you source it
Overall
(7/10)

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Great British Sauce Co Hot and Sweet Chilli SauceThis review is for a hot sweet chilli sauce made by the Great British Sauce Co. I’ll admit that I wasn’t looking forward to this review having low expectations. You can buy a the old faithful litre of standard Chinese sweet chilli sauce at any supermarket and get it even cheaper at an Asian supermarket if you are lucky enough to have one nearby. However the Great British Sauce Co’s Hot and Sweet Chilli Sauce has been sent to me and as this is British product I couldn’t turn it down. Their website states “In our kitchen we are inspired to create products that celebrate our British cosmopolitan culture and we promise that we will always make them here in Britain” I can almost hear the national anthem playing in the background.

The label is welcoming and looks to me how a product of its type or a ketchup should look. Something I always do is check the range out to see if the labels match and I am please to see that the marketing flows through their range in a stylish way. But it’s not just about how pretty or clever the label is will the sauce be worth the packaging? On the bottle you will also find:

“At the Great British Sauce Company we’re passionate about creating delicious, properly made sauces and condiments. All our sauces are packed with
flavour and use the best ingredients we can find. Our Hot & Sweet Chilli Sauce carefully blends fruity sweetness with a serious chilli bite. Great in stir-fries, as a table sauce, marinade or dip”

Ingredients: Sugar, water, plum puree 12%, modified maize starch, salt, red pepper flakes, Habanero chillies 1%, concentrated lemon juice, garlic, citric acid, thickener: cellulose gum. May contain traces of wheat flour, soya, mustard or celery.

The sauce itself is clearly sticky and it smells sweet as you would expect, but different to the basic sweet chilli sauce this one has some hidden gems another aroma stands out and hints of the chilli hiding inside. The heat level is quite respectable too almost catching you by surprise. You get both an instant hit with this, one at the same time as the pleasurable fruity notes the Habanero brings to sauces, then a nice building burn to keep you interested. So far I have used the sauce as a dipping for dim sum style fried starters, as a basic sauce to pimp my burger and to make a basic frittata meal come to life. I have not yet tried as a stir fry sauce but you just know this sauce would work to perfection. Perhaps the British can teach the Chinese a thing or to you can even Visit the GB kitchen for more seasonal recipe ideas.

You can tell from the attention to detail that the co-founder Andrew puts his heart and soul into this sauce, and the others in his range, aspiring to have each bottle tasting as good as the original homemade version.

Having finished writing the review the final task was to look up the price, I was expecting a premium of around £3.99 – £5.99 with this product. However much to my delight when I was pondering ‘no matter how nice the product is I probably would still stick to the Chinese sweet chilli sauce’….. The price per bottle is a mere £2.00. So it’s tasty, spicy, British and reasonably priced. Would I but it again? YES.

Flavour
(8/10)
Heat
(4/10)
Packaging
(7/10)
Value (8/10)
Overall
(7/10)

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