This spicy hot pepper sauce is made with scotch bonnet chili peppers and makes a great addition to spicy Caribbean dishes.
A staple in Caribbean cuisine, hot pepper sauce (also referred to as hot sauce or chile sauce) is served on top of dishes or used within them.
Whilst you can use a variety of peppers in your sauce, using scotch bonnet peppers is most popular as it provides just the right kind of heat.
Comparing the heat of different peppers
Despite being from the same pepper family, scotch bonnets are far hotter than habanero peppers.
The Scoville scale, which measures heat intensity of peppers, gives scotch bonnets a heat rating of 80,000 to 400,000, whereas habaneros only rate at 100,000 to 350,000.
To put this into perspective, consider the scotch bonnet position on the list of peppers below, starting out with the least spicy:
- Chile de arbol
- Naga bhut jolokia (also known as ghost pepper and once considered the hottest pepper variety)
- Piri piri
- Scotch bonnet
- Trinidad moruga scorpion (can have a heat intensity rating of 2,009,231 on the Scoville scale!)
- Carolina reaper
- Capasaicin extract
Most hot pepper sauces consist of a base of peppers and vinegar, but you will usually find a range of other ingredients added such as fruit and vegetables.
Each Caribbean island has its own version of hot pepper sauce, so they can vary in their heat intensity and flavor.
Here's a breakdown of various hot pepper sauce styles across the Caribbean:
Belize - a very hot sauce calling for habaneros, carrots and onions.
Trinidad - uses a Trinidad Scorpion pepper, which is considered one of the hottest pepper types. It is usually crossbred with other peppers to reduce its heat intensity.
Barbados - uses a base of scotch bonnet peppers and mustard to create Bajan pepper sauce.
Haiti - made from a base of habaneros, shallots, lime juice, garlic and on occasion, tomatoes, Sauce Ti-malice is spicy yet full of flavor.
Puerto Rico - there are two types of hot pepper sauces made here, one of which is called Sofrito. This consists of bird peppers, annatto seeds, corainder leaves, garlic, onion and tomatoes. The other is Pique, which is made by allowing peppers to steep in vinegar. You will often find pineapple added to this sauce.
Jamaica - uses scotch bonnet peppers for an intensely hot sauce; the sauce here is known as Pickapeppa sauce.
Chile - there are both mild and spicy versions available, using either pure red peppers or yellow peppers. Peppers are mixed with just salt and water, so you can imagine the intensity of this sauce!
Mexico - Mexican hot pepper sauces are not ultra-spicy. Whilst they have hints of heat, they are loaded with flavor. To achieve this, chipotle peppers and a range of spices are used to create them.
What makes peppers so spicy?
Have you ever wondered why peppers are spicy and have a hot taste?
It's all down to the capsaicinoids - a type of chemical that gives off the spicy sensation.
Although people tend to reach for a large glass of water when consuming something spicy, the capsaicinoids are fat soluble, meaning that water doesn't actually do anything!
The solution is to actually counteract the capsaicinoids with dairy - so, rather than reaching for a glass of water, next time try a glass of milk.
If you are preparing a spicy dish, it is a good idea to serve it with rice as the rice helps to reduce the spicy sensation.
Now, why not try and make your own hot and aromatic pepper sauce with the recipe below! It tastes great on your poached eggs for breakfast, pairs perfectly with chicken wings and is perfect in - or on - chili.