Tuesday, December 25, 2012


by L

Today, another of your fearless bloggers brought in his own home cooking. You don't hear much from R because he manages the site rather than the writing, but you should not doubt his devotion to the cause. As a Mexico native, R is accustomed to food with a kick. After his last journey home, he brought us Salsa Nortenia. It was delicious, of course. Today, however, we are going to talk about something that required an even greater labor of love than importing a liquid via air travel: R made us a sauce. 

In R's hometown, there are many places to buy tacos. All of those tacos need salsas to top them. Although we are most familiar with red, tomato-based salsas and mild guacamoles in the USA, these taco shops have far more variety. The best of these sauces gain local fame.  The trouble with fame and taco trucks and stands, though, is that it can be difficult to come up with a way to refer to a business that others will understand. One stand became known in folklore as “Tacos de Transito” (Transit Tacos) because it was located just outside the offices of the Transit Police Department. For years, this place in Toluca, Mexico has served some of the most delicious “tacos de carnitas” (pork tacos) known to man.  Part of the food magic in these legendary tacos is the hot sauce served on top of them. Simply referred to as “verde” (green), by the executioner manning the stand’s grill, the sauce is avocado based and its precise recipe is really unknown to the public. Since his exile from Mexico, R has been haunted by the memory of the sauce and out of desperation tried to reverse engineer it. After several attempts he thinks he came close enough to the real “Verde” flavor to be willing to share his concoction with us.

Recipe for Verde’s Bizarro:

  • ½ small clove of garlic
  • ½ small onion (2 tablespoons of finely chopped onions)
  • 2 Serrano peppers
  • ½ Habanero pepper
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • ¼ Fresh lime
  • salt

  1. Finely chop the garlic, onion, and peppers.
  2. Finely chop enough cilantro leaves to fill two tablespoons.
  3. Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and empty the fruit in a mortar (NOT the weapon, the bowl)
  4. Add the finely chopped ingredients to the mortar and use a pestle to crush, grind, and mix the ingredients until the mixture becomes creamy and smooth (if done properly your arm should ache!).
  5. Squeeze the ¼ lime into the mortar and continue grinding and mixing.
  6. Add salt to taste (I use ¼ teaspoon) 

Name: Verde's Bizarro
Manufacturer: R
Country of origin: Mexico
Rating: 9.5

This sauce is hot and fresh at the same time. It is great for tacos, steak, chicken, you name it. The flavor is best when fresh, but it will keep well in the fridge for a couple of days.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lord of the Hot Sauce

by M

In honor of the Hobbit's upcoming release, we have some special hot sauce from New Zealand.  New Zealand is a place I have always wanted to visit, especially after the LOTR series hit the US back in 2001.  These movies are good and of an epic stature, but they are just way too long.  I have a limit for how long I can sit in a chair without going insane, which is about an hour and a half.  Anything more and you've overstayed your welcome.  These movies weigh in at about 3 hrs apiece, for a total of 9 hrs.  Then there is the directors' cut version that goes even longer.  I'd rather use Gollum's toothbrush than sit on my ass for that long.  

I don't want to go to NZ because I am some dorky fan boy who wants to dress up like a tool and parade around pretending to fight orcs.  I want to go because these movies were filmed on such beautiful landscapes of all kinds: huge snowy mountains, lush green fields, and warm beaches abound.  New Zealand is kind of an end-of-the-earth place, really far from the rest of the world (even from Australia, it is a 3hr flight). It seems like the last bastion of simplicity, out of the grips of western assholery, European Nihilism, Asian idiosyncratics, and mideast craziness.  Just beautiful earth, a lotta sheep and maybe some beers.  I guess that is why I can't go… because everywhere is corrupted in its own way, and I'd rather think of it as a beautiful bubble that will be void of the nuclear apocalypse.

One thing is for sure, if New Zealand survives the nuclear apocalypse, we will be fine in the hot sauce department.

Name: Kaitaia Fire Chili Pepper Sauce
Kaitaia Fire
Chili pepper: Piri Piri (Capsicum frutescens) ??
Country of origin: New Zealand
Rating: 8.8

In many ways Kaitaia hot sauce is a classic hot sauce, not as distant or exotic as the land it comes from.  It is kind of the normal hot sauce recipe: aged red chillies and a vinegar base. But it is done really well. I am a Red Hot kind of guy.  Red Hot is not the best hot sauce but it is widely available and pairs well with anything.  Kaitaia is Red Hot done well. It has more kick, the perfect amount of heat. You can use a little, but a few too many splashes you will get a runny nose and some hiccups. The flavor is quite good too, both peppery and salty, and pairs well with most foods you will want to eat hot sauce with. The best part is Kaitaia is readily available online here.
Who knew? Our New Zealand lab member did not really remember a New Zealand hot sauce when we enquired about one, which was not too surprising. But when Kaitaia found it's way into our hands from another kiwi-going fellow, he said "Oh, of course, Kaitaia, everyone uses that.” And they should, because it is delicious.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mojo Sauce

by L and guests

For this post, we took it up a notch. In an unprecedented move, we bring you... a sauce one of your fearless bloggers personally made!

M lovingly whipped up a sauce for us, using peppers almost as lovingly grown by lab member J and roasted red peppers. 


  • Handful of Thai chilis
  • Garlic
  • White vinegar
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • Cayenne pepper
  1. Cut the top off of a head of garlic to expose each clove.  
  2. Place in foil with chilis and douse in olive oil, salt, and pepper.  
  3. Then cover the bell peppers in oil, salt, and pepper, but do not wrap in foil. 
  4. Cook for 1hr in the oven @ 350 degrees F.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Peel and seed the bell peppers, then place in a food processor.
  7. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skin into the food processor and add the chilis after removing their stems.
  8. Add a teaspoon of Cayenne powder.
  9. As the processor is running, slowly add several tablespoons of vinegar.

This is the most effort M has ever put into one of our blog posts. He has also stepped up the competition amongst lab members to see who can make the best home-brewed hot sauce.

Name: Mojo sauce
Manufacturer: Homemade by M
Chili pepper: Piri Piri (Capsicum frutescens) and Cayenne (Capsicum annuum)
Country of origin: USA
Rating: 9.5!!!!!

This was universally regarded by the regular lunch crew as the best sauce we've had yet, which suggests that homemade sauces might have advantages. Because we, the bloggers, are obviously biased, we enlisted our coworkers for opinions, in addition to noting that this was the fastest sauce to vanish from the kitchen fridge. Enjoy these (slightly edited for length) opinions.

- reviewer (Mk) - a known heat pansy, Irish tongue, but super sensitive nose with an appreciation for aroma

- dish - an otherwise unspiced or salsa'd chicken burrito bowl.  Lettuce, black beans, brown rice, plain corn, and mild guacamole

- look and feel -  a smooth, thick and happy autumnal hue with clear interspersion of robust spices dancing through the tomato paste like sauce.  An intoxicating and rich smell, with complex layers of garlic, onion, and peppers.   Even cold, smells warm and like its bubbling on the stove and filling the house with peppery ambiance.  Its an alluring anticipatory sort of scent.

- taste.  Reviewer unwisely chose a smallish blob of the viscous concoction to start, mixed in with burrito bowl, and suffered the consequences of a mouth full of raging fire ants.  Pain however did not linger, and was soon dissipated.   MoJo is best enjoyed (by this tongue) with just the tines of the fork dipped into the sauce, and then entree onto fork.   Diner is rewarded with no pain, and an almost sweet and fruity earthiness that the MoJo imparted onto the salad.  Corn in salad seemed also way sweeter when paired with sauce drops.

- Experience - oddly addictive, reviewer, normally a wellpaced and leisurely diner, crammed bite after bite of fork tine dipped entree into mouth to enjoy the layered flavours.   Upon completion of dining, mild tingling on tongue and inside cheeks, more of a full blown vibration on inner lips, not painful, and mouth has a fruity after taste.

Final Review - When used with caution, or as to-taste for the diner, this is a smashing offering.   Robust and earthy, it feels crafted with care and depth.  Smooth and versatile, it might make a great bisque with a gallon of creme added, a fine pairing for grilling as well.


Secondary Review-   (B)

- reviewer - spoonful sample, no entree or other distractions

- look and feel - nice colour chipolte sensibility, smooth almost creamy texture with a smattering of spices.

- taste - first thing that hits you is roasted red pepper flavouring, a sweet and warm sensation quickly followed by bite of onion and garlic.  A warm and down to earth flavour, smooth on the palette.  A slight tingling on surface of tongue and back of throat.   Flavor enhances experience more than peppers, a mild hot sauce if to be categorized it.

Final Review- a tasty red pepper based hot sauce that would go well when paired with strong grilled fish such as tunasteak salmon fillets, swordfish or mahi mahi.  Or any sort of hispanic grilled meat, steak, pork, etc.

Wait!  reviewer went in for a second taste!  Slathering the MoJo all over honey nut cheerios!   Gave reviewer hiccups, he ate very fast.   Made his nose run.  No change in review from just a spoonful.

note:  about 1 tablespoon of whole milk removes all tingling sensation from tongue.


Tertiary Review (J2)

- spoonful, not with any entree.

- Spiciness overshadows flavour, the sensation of tingle or burn causes underlying flavours to be lost.  Several tastes in it gets better, and you can appreciate the subtle undertones.

- Red pepper under tones taste was especially well appreciated.  It was easy on the eyes.  The orange colour and black specks were visually appealing.   Minimal, but some nose running.