10 Spicy Condiments to Heat Up Prepared Food Menus
Firing up consumers’ taste buds at breakfast, lunch, or dinner has never been easier, thanks to a new guard of spicy condiments that go far beyond the ketchup-mayo-mustard trinity.
“Anything that can be made spicier, we are seeing spicy versions of it,” says Dave Hirschkop, president and self-proclaimed spice-meister at Dave’s Gourmet, manufacturer of some of the hottest hot sauces on the market. Spicy versions of sauces and condiments that wouldn’t have done well in the past, he explains, are now gaining in popularity.
Hirschkop says he has noticed the trend toward more heat for a number of years, though market research company Technomic reports the industry has just recently seen the scale tip when it comes to demand for spicy flavors. In 2013, Technomic’s consumer survey found 54 percent of consumers prefer hot or spicy sauces, dips, or condiments, compared with 46 percent in 2009.
As the number of heat seekers continues to rise, a drizzle or dip of something with a kick is now game on every menu. What’s more, this year’s Sriracha craze has proven that consumers are looking for versatile, multi-dimensional heat, and specialty producers have responded with creativity and gusto.
Here are the latest offerings in spicy condiments, from ghost pepper mayo to hot honey, many of which are made with fresh chiles and a blend of ingredients that have earned them broad appeal.
Brooklyn Delhi Achaar Indian Relish
Achaar technically means pickled, but in India the dish of preserved fruits or vegetables is used more like a spicy relish. Chitra Agrawal starting making her own seasonal-inspired achaar from produce she got from her community-support agriculture subscription, and she formally launched Brooklyn Delhi a year ago. With packaging designed by her husband, Agrawal’s unique take on the condiment incorporates both familiar and unusual ingredients, though all three 6-ounce varieties—tomato, roasted garlic, and gooseberry—are balanced in their spiciness, sour notes, sweetness, and slight bitterness from crushed fenugreek. The garlic variety is fit for tacos, tomato is at home on a grilled cheese, and gooseberry is a delightful addition to a cheese board.
Dave's Scorpion Pepper Hot Sauce
Dave’s Gourmet set the standard for super-hot sauces when founder Dave Hirschkop first introduced his Insanity Sauce in 1993. His latest iteration of hot sauce is one that the chile heads will appreciate, given that it’s nearly three times hotter than the classic recipe. Made with scorpion peppers, native to Trinidad, the flavor of this hot sauce starts off slowly with a fresh and fruity base reminiscent of habaneros and serranos. Then the sting of the scorpion sets in. What level of untamed heat does this 5-ounce bottle pack? “Very high,” Hirschkop says with a laugh.
Empire Mayonnaise Ghost Pepper Mayo
“Ghost pepper is pretty intimidating, even for spice lovers,” says Elizabeth Valleau, co-founder and CEO of Empire Mayonnaise Co. “It is intense!” Valleau has found a way to tame that heat by working the ghost pepper—one of the world’s hottest on the Scoville scale—into a 4-ounce jar of creamy, all-natural mayo made with cage-free eggs. The condiment is “transformative” on burgers, she notes, as it starts out tangy and rich and finishes with its signature kick that has made it an instant favorite. The company plans to offer the flavored mayo wholesale for foodservice in 2015.
The Gracious Gourmet Hatch Chile Pesto
Hatch green chiles from New Mexico have a following all their own, and this unique nut- and cheese-free sauce plays up that fresh chile flavor and steady, mellow heat customers enjoy. This new style of pesto comes in a 7-ounce jar and is blended with cilantro, parsley, garlic, and olive oil. Pesto is usually associated with pasta, but it’s being used in more creative ways as a versatile condiment. “It’s really versatile,” says Natalie Noblitt, marketing manager at Gracious Gourmet. “Skip the mayo and use pesto. It adds a lot of flavor.” Spread it on a ham-and-cheese sandwich, serve with eggs and toast, or offer as a veggie dip for crudité.
Mike’s Hot Honey
It may come as a surprise that this 12-ounce squeeze bottle of chile-infused wildflower honey pairs well with a range of dishes, from fried chicken and biscuits to candied nuts to roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts. Even more surprising, perhaps, is that pepperoni pizza is one of owner Mike Kurtz’s top picks for this spicy-sweet condiment. The hot honey was born out of a pizzeria in Brooklyn, where Kurtz worked as a pizzaiolo and drizzled the sweet spread on freshly wood-fired pies, much to the delight of the restaurant’s customers. The honey is also available in gallon jugs for foodservice.
Mother in Law's Kimchi Gochujang Paste
This savory, thick sauce made of fermented chiles is Korea’s most popular condiment, both as a tableside hot sauce and as a pantry essential. (Gochu means chile, and jang is fermented paste.) Lauryn Chun’s recipe creates a distinctive base for a collection of four savory 8-ounce sauces that bring medium-heat along with a memorable depth of flavor that lingers on the palate thanks to fermented chili powder, soy beans, malt, and rice. A dollop of this paste on a noodle or grain bowl is a classic Korean take, but the condiment can easily spice up a Western kitchen, too, as a dipping sauce for cucumbers or cauliflower, spread on an egg salad sandwich, or drizzled on nachos.
Musashi Spicy Japanese Mayo
Company president Gideon Sarraf says the inspiration behind Musashi’s spicy mayo was that ubiquitous sauce that’s found at many a sushi restaurants. “When I realized that no one was manufacturing [Japanese spicy mayo] on a large scale, I decided to look into bottling and selling it at stores across the country, to bring this familiar and incredible taste into people homes,” he says. A rich sesame flavor rounds out the bite from the fresh red serrano peppers and garlic, making this sauce a versatile condiment that works equally well on breakfast burritos, burgers, and grilled corn. The sauce is available in 12-ounce squeeze bottles at retail and gallon jugs for foodservice.
The Mustard Factory Spicy Stout Mustard
Couple Neil Hastie and Keely Smith craft their line of gourmet mustards in small batches in their Naples, Fla., production kitchen. Nearly all of their specialty mustards offer a bold dose of spice, but the spicy stout variety (available in 6- and 10-ounce jars) is a standout for blending those Old World flavors with a New World kick. The sweet, malty notes are balanced with a hit of spice, creating a rich, round flavor that’s a dream on cold-cut sandwiches, roasted meats, and sausages.
Stonewall Kitchen Sriracha Aioli
While aioli is always packed with garlic, the addition of Thai-style sun-ripened chiles brings this robust sauce, offered in a 10.25-ounce jar, to the next level. The creamy sauce from Maine-based Stonewall Kitchen is a natural match for seafood and can be swapped out for classic tartar sauce anywhere a spicy kick is desired, like on fish sandwiches, crab cakes, and breaded shrimp. For a global mash-up that’s New England–based but European-inspired, serve this spicy aioli with French fries.
Traina Sriracha Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup
Traina Foods, a California-based supplier of sun-dried fruits and vegetables, has made the foray into branded retail with its sun-dried tomato ketchup, which now has a spicy Sriracha-spiked counterpart that offers a deep tomato flavor and a tapering heat. The condiment, sold as a 16-ounce bottle, is truly multipurpose as it can be substituted for either traditional ketchup or Sriracha hot sauce, so it’s right at home with hamburgers, fries, eggs, tacos, and much more.
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