One of my current favorites is Melinda’s Naga Jolokia hot sauce.
It is terrifyingly spicy and has a depth of flavor that sends chills down my spine. It’s one of the few super-hot sauces that I really enjoy because the flavor is so amazing. It’s based on Naga Jolokia peppers (these are sometimes called Ghost Peppers) which are native to India. They used to be the world’s hottest until this year, and they have a super intense flavor in addition to ridiculous heat. You can really taste what these peppers are capable of in Melinda’s Naga Jolokia.
So I’ve set out to pay tribute and hopefully come up with something I like equally well. The ingredients list in Melinda’s Naga Jolokia is as follows: Naga Jolokia Peppers (likely a fermented mash), carrots, papayas, lime juice, vinegar, onions, passion fruit, citric acid, garlic, salt, xanthan gum.
My sauce is as follows: Aged Bhut Jolokia pepper (mash from http://www.dannycash.com), water, fresh cherries, carrots, onions, garlic, lime juice, vinegar, honey, salt, worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke.
I didn’t have passion fruit or papaya laying around so I used the sweeteners I had laying around - cherries and honey. The carrots and onions are used as thickening agents that offer a bit of flavor depth. Also you’ll notice I’m using a bigger food processor than normal, the Kitchen Aid. It does a MUCH better job of creating a puree than the dinky white processor I use for small batches.
Set the carrots and onions to boil, spoon in a bunch of ghost pepper mash, squeeze in the lime juice, and start adding remaining ingredients into the food processor (except honey). Once the carrots and onions are soft enough, scoop them out of the pot and add them into the processor. Give it a thorough spin, and use the water you were boiling the carrots/onions in to thin it out as necessary. Strain into a pot, give it a taste, and add honey as needed for additional sweetness - but be careful this stuff is SUPER hot. Bring up the sauce to a slight simmer on the stove. I would recommend doing this on an outdoor kitchen burner as this stuff is potent enough to mace everyone in your kitchen as it heats (just ask my wife! Sorry sweetie!). I noticed the sauce had a bit of a bitter quality that the honey seemed to offset decently well. I’m not sure where this is coming from, but I’m suspecting the cheap vinegar I’m using. I’ll have to grab some higher quality vinegar in the future.
Have you ever aimed a blow torch into your mouth? Yeah this one’s a little like that. My taste buds are cauterized after doing a few tastings of this sauce as I was cooking it. However after it sits for a week or so, something magical happens. The upfront heat mostly disappears, and you’re left with this really sweet flavor upfront. The bitterness is gone entirely. The heat on the back end however, is RIGHTEOUS. You try a small bit and go “oh come on this is nothing”, and then 5 min. later you start feeling an intense burning heat that doesn’t let go. This one is a slow burn that really sneaks up on you. I’m going to make a few tweaks and probably call it Chupacabra.