Hot Sauce 101

hot sauce

Of course, I hope my children turn out to be kind. I hope they understand their privilege and use it to work for justice in the world. I hope they're creative, curious, and have lots of friends.

But what I really hope is that they like spicy things. I hope their little taste buds are robust, that they dump hot sauce all over their eggs or rice. I hope they take after my Mom, who's always carrying her"spice holster"--coarse salt, chile flakes, and a pepper grinder. When my kids go to college, I hope they find the cafeteria food bland and fondly reminisce about all their hours in my kitchen. A girl can dream, right?

Turns out, I'm much closer to my dream than I was a year ago. Wyatt has taken to Tapatio lately. Every morning, he carefully dots his toast and scrambled eggs with Tapatio. I have never seen anything so darling. I'm trying to curtail my enthusiasm, though, in case he decides its not as cool as he thought.

Here's the lineup we always have in the fridge. There are others that come and go, but these are the bottles I simply can't live without:

  • Sambal Oelek, an Indonesian ground fresh chile that's vinagery, full of seeds and fire, and is a must for potstickers or fried rice. When we have burgers, I mix it with a little mayo for the most delicious condiment ever.
  • Sriracha, indispensable for Vietnamese food. For the longest time, Yancey had bottles of Sriracha and hoisin sauce in his work van for the Vietnamese sandwiches he and Rich would consume on the jobsite. Sriracha is seedless, slightly sweet, and still quite hot.
  • Crystals, the bottle found on every table in New Orleans. I've only visited New Orleans once, but Tabasco was nowhere to be found except on t-shirts and in tourist curious shops. It was Crystals every time. I am salivating as I write this. I love Crystals so much--full of vinegar, and will make your soft-boiled egg into an ambrosial morsel.
  • Tapatio and Valentina, Mexican hot sauces that are smoky in flavor--a musky note that the Asian or Southern ones don't have. Tapatio is a little brighter in flavor than Valentina. We use these for eggs, nachos, enchiladas, and burritos. When Yancey worked with a lot of Latino men on the jobsite, they'd open a bag of Lays potato chips, dump Valentina in there, and shake it up. That's a favorite late-night snack around here.

What's in your fridge? Any luck indoctrinating your kids in the Way of Spice?