What is chili sauce?

Pepper.

Chili sauce, also called hot sauce or chili sauce, is any variety of hot sauce made with chili peppers. Chili sauce is common in many chili producing countries around the world. Hot sauce varieties are generally graded by the chilies used and the amount of heat in the sauce, determined by the Scoville Scale.

In North America, hot sauces vary by region. Mexican hot sauces tend to be less spicy and more flavorful than other varieties, often using smoked chipotle peppers as a base. Louisiana-style chili sauce is often much spicier, often using cayenne pepper or tabasco as a base. In the West Indies, a variety of versions exist, most using Scotch Bonnet or habanero peppers to heat the sauce. These flavorful varieties often include unusual ingredients such as tropical fruits, cloves, and lemon.

A cayenne pepper.

Asian hot sauce is generally used as a sauce or added ingredient in stir-fries, as opposed to the prevalence of North American varieties as a condiment. While some varieties, such as the Chinese Duo Jiao, are extremely hot, many Asian chili sauces tend to be sweet rather than hot. In California, the traditional Vietnamese chili sauce has become a popular topping for French fries. Japanese hot sauces are often mixed into soups and noodle dishes, or used as a sauce for dumplings like gyoza.

Hot sauce can be used as a topping on French fries.

The reason peppers and hot sauce taste pungent is because of a chemical component called capsaicin. This naturally produced chemical is mildly irritating to humans, causing a burning sensation or heat in the mouth when ingested. The spiciness of a variety of pepper is measured using a method called the Scoville scale.

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The scale and its resulting Scoville heat units measure heat by determining at what level the heat of a pepper is no longer detectable. By diluting the pepper extract with sweetened water until the capsaicin reaction no longer occurs, the Scoville scale creates a rating of how spicy the pepper is. Anaheim peppers are rated between 500-2500 units, making them one of the mildest peppers, while India’s Naga Jolokia pepper is considered the hottest pepper in the world, with a rating of 855,000-1,041,427 units.

Mexican hot sauces often use chipotle peppers.

To make your own hot sauce, chop fresh peppers or hydrate dried ones and mix with vinegar, garlic, salt, and any extra ingredients you prefer. Some recipes tell you to boil the mixture to make a reduction, others recommend just pouring the mixed or processed ingredients into a sterilized glass jar, covering and refrigerating. Be careful when preparing fresh chili peppers, as their chemicals can cause burning sensations on the skin, especially in the eyes. You can use clean kitchen gloves when handling peppers.

Habanero peppers are sometimes used to make a particularly strong chili sauce.

Chili sauce is an excellent sauce for appetizers or vegetables. It is traditionally served with Southwestern and Central American cuisine as a condiment. If you’re making a stir-fry or pasta dish, try adding a few tablespoons of pepper during cooking. If you have a very thin liquid sauce that can be sold as chili oil, try adding a few drops to your popcorn. Using hot sauce adds a delicious twist to any meal, and as you experiment, you’ll discover your own preferences for heat level, concentration, and favorite hot sauce dishes.

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