Don't Let the Chemists Into the Kitchen

Friday 18/3/2005

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Diary and Notes

In my quest to bring the whole range of food and food related things to a wider audience, I often have a scoot around the web in the hope of finding interesting food related articles. Yestderday I stumbled upon something quite bizarre or even frightening, which is worth a mention. HotSauceBlog is a fantastic American website devoted to (obviously) hot sauce. They only cover American hot sauces, so my absolute favourite Encona (original) isn't mentioned and they don't bother with the milder sauces such as the excellent Sriracha (or cock sauce as it is more commonly known) but the site is well worth a viewing and has really opened my eyes to just what some really odd people get up to in their spare time.

I had no idea just how hot some sauces can be. I do recall having tasted some Mad Dog Inferno hot sauce some years ago and thinking that it was just unecessary (I had it with some beans and it made me cry), but it seems that this is nothing compared to the real 'gourmet' hot sauces that are available.

For those who are not farmiliar with such things, the heat of chillis is normally measured in Scoville Units, the hottest chillis being the Habanero, Scotch Bonnet and the Indian Tezpur (the hottest chilli in the world measuring 855,000 on the Scoville scale and twice as hot as even the hottest Habanero or Scotch Bonnet). The more usual varieties of chillies found in supermarkets, such as the Jalapeno (quite mild at 3,000) and the Serrano (10,000) are but sweets in comparison.

When it comes to sauces it seems that even these vicious chillis from the Indian Subcontinent are nothing. The sauce I mentioned earlier, Mad Dog Inferno, comes in at a tasty 90,000 Scoville Units (so its about 10 times hotter than your average raw supermarket very hot chilli) but is still nothing to chewing a raw Tezpur. It seems Mad Dog do a reserve inferno sauce which is nearly twice as hot again (for comparison Tabasco is 2500 so the ordinary Mad Dog Inferno is 36 times hotter and the reserve over 50 times as hot as Tabasco) but in comparison to the really hot sauce, these are about as spicy as ginger beer on a hot summer's day.

The absolute hottest sauce ever made is pretty much pure distilled capsaicin - Blair's 6 A.M. and is 6400 times hotter than Tabasco - put a dash of that in your Bloody Mary!

I doubt very much, this is a legal product in Britain or Europe, and the cost of nearly $300 does make it a bit of a luxury anyway, but even if you had some, what would you do with it? The people who produce these sauces are obviously a little strange to say the least. I wonder if they include a recipe book along with the sauce. If I had a bottle I don't even think I'd be brave enough to open it - I might invest in a bottle of something a little milder however - along the lines of Dave's Private Reserve Insanity Hot Sauce at 500,000 scoville units, when it arrives I'll have a taste and give you my verdict. Wish me luck.


With regards to today's dinner:

It has suddenly turned really sunny in Exeter and I fancied something to go with the sunshine. A tasty plate of fresh fish, crispy potatoes, cheese, bread and sharp onions. Bloody marvelous. Why can't I get a simple but still tasty and well prepared meal like this in restaurants?

I love fresh sardines, they are perhaps my favourite fish of all - quick and easy to cook, not too bony and really flavoursome. The red onion salad that I've described below may not sound anything special but is absolutely wonderful with oily fish. The potatoes were quite fantastic, the spicy duck fat was just the thing, though if all I had was some vegetable oil the meal would sitll have been top notch. I had the cheese on the plate with everythng else instead of serving it afterwards. All that was missing was a good glass of chilled Sancerre - but then nobody's life is perfect.

Cake Blog

Mr Kipling French Fancy: Sweet, sickly and loved by children - too sweet for me.


  • Sardines with Capers and Red Pepper
  • Potatoes Roast in Spiced Duck Fat
  • Red Onion Salad
  • Gorgonzola Cheese
  • French Bread


  • Sardines: Sardines, olive oil, capers (in vinegar), red pepper, salt, black pepper
  • Potatoes: Potatoes (a roasting variety, I had Osprey), spiced duck fat (from yesterday's curried duck legs), salt
  • Salad: Red onion, white wine vinegar, salt, black pepper


  • Sardines: Remove the backjbone by slitting the sardine along the gut and prssing down to flatten it out then pulling the bone out. Rub with a little caper vinegar, sprinkle on some capers, some died red pepper, season, drizzle a little oil over, wrap in foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Potaotes; Peel and cut into cubes (about 2cm). Par boil to break the surface a little then shake to roughen them up (makes them more crispy). Drizzle witht eh spiced duck fat and roast in the oven for 30 minutes then drain off all the fat and roast for a further 15 minutes to go really crispy. Salt before serving.
  • Salad: Slive (very thinly) the red onion. Sprinkle a little salt and loads of fresh black pepper on. Then drizzle a little white wine vinegar all over. Mix and loeave to stand for 20 minutes. Drain off all the liquid before serving.