Saturday, May 26, 2012


Mexico by M
I love Mexican food. It is one of my favorite types of foods.  Though I will say there seems to be a lack of creativity in the mexican culinary world.  Someone, somewhere, sometime in history, in Mexico rolled out a tortilla, put some stuff in it and the ‘taco’ was born and it was good.  But then they were like you know what would be really crazy, if we made the tortilla soft instead of hard, and there you have a ‘soft taco’, and it too was good. And that is where Mexican culinary creativity peaked.  Because then someone was like what if you wrap up the soft taco instead of folding it, let’s call that a ‘burrito’.  And then someone was like, what if you serve the stuffing separately on the side, let's call that a ‘fajita’.  Or let’s take the ‘burrito’ and put some sauce on it, now we have an ‘enchilada’.  Or let’s take 2 tortillas and leave them flat, we’ll call that one a damn ‘quesadilla’.  Or let’s take the ‘taco’ and just throw it into a pile with the other stuff we like and call it ‘nachos’, unless the portioning of lettuce is higher than the other ingredients; that is a ‘taco salad’.

Special Note by R, Media Relations Specialist and Mexican Citizen
Thanks to the American assassination of Mexican food, there seems to be not much creativity in “Mexican” cuisine served in the US.  In reality someone, probably in Texas, dreamed up that stuff without even realizing that a hard shell taco belongs in Mexico as much as a whale belongs in the Texan desert. After all, in Mexico, tortillas are nothing else than the staple bread and therefore, tacos are just bread with fillings.

Back to M
To me, Mexican food is all good.  It doesn’t hold back on hardiness or flavor and it is best when spicy.  What would Mexican food be without a variety of hot sauces or salsas picantes?  Salsa actually translates to ‘sauce’.  Mexican Salsas are such great condiments and cooking ingredients that people dance about them all the time.  You don’t hear about people taking ketchup lessons or going out for a night of soy sauce, do you?
Sauce: Salsa Norteña estilo Chihuahua
Manufacturer: Cocina Mestiza
Chile Pepper: Chipotle (smoked dried jalapeño)  Capsicum annuum
Country of Origin: Mexico (Estado Unidos Mexicanos)
Score: 8/10

The hot sauce we are reviewing today is Salsa Norteña.  Hot sauces like this are the reason I got into this business.  It is much different than any hot sauce I have had in the states, and it feels closely related to our Peru review, which was really good too.  If you remember, that sauce had a great roasted red pepper flavor, where this one has a great chipotle flavor to it.  Ok, Chili lesson.  What is a Chipotle? Besides a McDonald’s-owned food chain that shortens your life span.  Chipotles are actually jalapeños that are smoked, often packaged in an adobo sauce, which is like a spicy bbq sauce.  This gives the jalapeño a really strong, unique, smoky flavor.  See, there is some culinary creativity.  I had my Norteña sauce with a guacamole burger.  This sauce easily upgraded my burger to elite burger status, a ‘Burger Deity’ if you will.  The sauce has a ton of flavor but a smoothness to it from the vegetable oil.  It is pretty calm in terms of spice, which makes it optimal for folks who like a lot of flavor but can’t handle the heat.  

We give this sauce an 8/10.....We are starting a new kind of Salsa dancing called Norteña dancing.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Hot Sauce Committee Part 2

Special shout out to Adam “MCA” Yauch and Maurice Sendak, two great New Yorkers, both inspirational figures to me and many others.  We pour some hot sauce out for our fallen homies.


Ok, if you have never been to New York City, then you should feel shame.  It is certainly not the prettiest city in the world, nor does it have the countless centuries of history many great cities do, but it may be the best city in the world.  Now many people are getting offended, saying Paris or London or Djibouti or Mabooty or whatever is clearly the best city in the world.  While other cities are very good at being other cities, New York takes the best the world has to offer and packs it all tightly into this little space, readily connected by a train ride or two.  Not all restaurants, diners, food trucks, and food stands are good, but most of them are, and not just good, they are great.  In NYC you can get the best $5.00 meal or $500.00 meal, depending on your choice, and anything in between.  Now having said that, what does ‘best city in the world’ really mean?  There is no way to actually quantify what makes a city great nor would that assessment translate from person to person. But, what I can say is that the Yankees are the best professional baseball team of all time. That is a measurable thing, and it is not even close, so suck it, Red Sox fans.

Sauce: NYC Hot Sauce
Manufacturer: NYC Hot Sauce Company
Chile Pepper: Habanero  (Capsicum chinense)
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Score: 2/10

Review: NYC Hot Sauce
I picked up some ‘NYC Hot Sauce’ from the Chelsea Market.  At $7.00 a bottle I was pretty stoked to try this stuff, hoping the steep price tag meant some quality hot sauce.  On the bottle it says “hot sauce made in NYC, for NYC”.  This should have been a warning sign.  Like this hot sauce is somehow cool and you are cool for eating it?  Kind of a hot sauce for hipsters.  Let me eat this hot sauce while I listen to independent music and shop at Urban Outfitters.  You know what would be cool?  If this hot sauce had some flavor.  It is a Habanero-based sauce and habaneros are known for their intense heat and fruit-like flavor.  But somehow, this sauce just falls flat in both heat and flavor.  In fact, go to Trader Joes and buy their Habanero hot sauce for $3.00 and get twice the flavor.  Hot sauce by suckers, for suckers... do not recommend.

2/10-Not much of a meal enhancer for a hefty price tag!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Back to Basics: Rooster Sauce

by L
Today, we’re venturing into territory that may be more familiar to our readers than our typical fare: a hot sauce you can actually find in your average USA grocery store. In fact, this sauce is so popular, it was the “ingredient of the year” in Bon Appetit magazine for 2010. It has been hailed as “the savior of cheap, crappy, Asian food” (, which might mean that the foodies at Bon Appetit occasionally deign to consume cheap eats and therefore need this sauce a lot.



Sriracha - AKA - ROOSTER SAUCE. Cock-a-doodle-doo.


Okay, so rooster sauce isn’t the real name of today’s sauce, which is Hoy Fong Foods’ Tương Ớt Sriracha sauce. I don’t know how to pronounce Thai, and neither do most people around here, so it usually ends up referred to as rooster or Sriracha sauce. This particular brand of Thai Sriracha sauce can be found in pretty much every crappy Asian restaurant in the USA and is known for the rooster on the bottle. Your writers eat a decent amount of crappy Asian food; it comes with the college town territory. In fact, at least a couple of times a month, M and I find ourselves eating mediocre takeout lunches from down the street. After years of this practice, it’s gotten so bad that when M recently placed his regular order, the woman who answers the phone didn’t even have to ask his name. However, despite her familiarity with the order, she still doesn’t make it quite the way he likes it: extra, extra hot.

I have never seen anyone put so much Sriracha on anything as he puts in his ramen bowl, so we decided to treat you to some before-and-after photos. The soup does not start out red, people! I guess he can rest assured that nobody will ever ask for a taste of his soup. 

 Sauce: Tương Ớt Sriracha
Manufacturer: Hoy Fong Foods
Chile Pepper: "Sun-ripened chilies"
Country of Origin: Thailand

Score: 6.5/10 

The review: Well, obviously M likes it. We’re going to introduce a new method of rating here that includes the flavor-to-heat ratio. Rooster sauce is about a three for flavor, but a nine for heat (3:9). Probably the reasons that it has less flavor are because it’s not your regular habanero-based red sauce and because vinegar is pretty low on the ingredients list. Personally, I kind of like it that way; many of the common sauces add too much vinegar for my taste. The “less flavor” effect might also arise from the strength of the burn overwhelming any other impression of the sauce pretty quickly, at least if you eat it straight. (I did, but I was only brave enough for a drop. Do NOT do the cinnamon challenge with this.) This sauce is not messing around, and neither is Hoy Fong Foods. Wikipedia informs me that they haven’t changed their recipe of chili (red jalapeños), sugar, salt, garlic, distilled vinegar, potassium sorbate, sodium bisulfite, and xanthan gum since 1983 ( You don’t mess with what works, and it has to be working to be the staple sauce of Asian restaurants.

In case you don’t know what to do with your bottle of rooster sauce, they provide useful tips on the back of the bottle in English, French, and Spanish. “SRIRACHA, made from sun ripened chilies, is ready to use in soups, sauces, pasta, pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, chow mein, or anything to add a delicious, spicy taste.” It SPECIFICALLY says chow mein. They know they are “the savior of cheap, crappy Asian food.” They know.

For purchase:
Amazon gives it 4.5 stars out of 5. It’s a great bargain at $5.95 for 28 oz. Cheap sauce for your cheap food.

Our rating: 6.5/10: 9 for heat, 3 for flavor. We are not as easily impressed as Amazon reviewers. This Sriracha sauce gets the job done in terms of punch, but it really only adds kick. There’s nothing special here.