How to tell your Harissa from your Gochujang

Until this morning, I couldn’t have defined either term, but the Telegraph has come up with a handy article for us ignoramuses (ignoramii?):  ‘The big chilli sauce guide: how to tell your sriracha from adobo‘.

At one time Encona and Tabasco were the only chilli sauces in town (at least in my house). Now you practically need an entire shelf just for hot sauces and pastes. I have a motley collection, many bought, some homemade. There’s Moroccan harissa, Turkish pepper paste, Mexican adobo paste, Korean gochujang (the new kid on the block) and an Eastern chilli ‘jam’ that I can’t claim is authentic but to which I’m quite addicted.

Their colours range from bright scarlet to a deep rusty brown and they vary hugely in character. The Mexican adobo paste is made from toasted chipotle and ancho chillis and is smoky and woody. At the other end of the scale the chilli jam is sweet, sticky and simple. The Turkish pepper paste is fresh and ‘front of the mouth’ hot. The harissa is multi faceted – there’s cumin, caraway and coriander in there as well as chillis. Sriracha I only got into a couple of years ago. It’s another bottle I like – big and plastic with a flying goose on the front. I find its taste a bit tinny but it’s extremely hot, and a godsend when you want a ‘high note’ chilli taste (it’s neither deep nor smoky).

There’s more at the link, including a handy reference guide to the various chili sauces out there – very useful for novices in the field.  If you, like me, know very little about this sort of thing, here’s a handy video lesson.

The Telegraph’s article was inspired by what would have been the 151st birthday, today, of Wilbur Scoville, for whom the scale of pepper ‘hotness’ has been named.  There’s even a special Google Doodle on Google’s home page in his honor today, including an interactive game.


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