After doing my last review on the Phitia’s Hot Sauce from Arturo’s Hot Flavors of Hawai’i, I was excited to delve into the next hot sauce on my list from them to further explore the world of Hawaiian hot sauce.
For this review, I selected their Makai Seaweed and Ginger hot sauce. Just the name alone suggested that this sauce would certainly be left of center from many of the hot sauces I normally use and eat. As a little intro about the sauce, here’s the description from the Hot Sauce Hawaii website:
“Makai” is the Hawaiian word for “by the sea,” and our Makai Hot Sauce is our small tribute to the force which shapes all of our lives here in the Islands. We’ve incorporated ginger, Limu (seaweed), sea salt and other Hawaiian ingredients into this sauce to create a flavor that will delight and surprise. Great with raw or grilled seafood. Makes a great salad dressing – a Caesar Salad Hawaiian Style. Taste with different kinds of grilled meats.
Each island sauce was created with one or more items from the Island the sauce is named after. All the sauces sparkle with Hawaii flavors that are accented ginger and lemongrass. Then each sauce was enhanced with just the right amount of chiles. Spicy liquids to flavor foods trace back through Hawaiian history to the Hawai’i's famous chile peppah (pepper) water. Chile peppers might have first found their way to Hawaii with Don Francisco de Paula Marin in 1773. Others attribute Hawai’i's love of spicy foods to the cowboys from Mexico and South America that helped with ranching on the Big Island in the 1800′s.
Ingredients: ginger juice (rice vinegar, sugar, distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar, miso [rice, soybeans, water, salt], ginger root, lemon grass, and Hawaiian sea salt), limu (seaweed), anchovies, lime juice, red habanero peppers, apple cider vinegar, miso (rice, soybeans, water, salt), Worcestershire sauce (water, vinegar, molasses, sugar, anchovies, tamarinds, soybeans, onions, salt, garlic, eschalots, & spices), and Hawaiian sea salt
First impression: For one thing, I like the label graphics. In a hot sauce world of ass-ripping-murdering-butchering named sauces with all-too-specific graphics, this simple yet colorful label is a pleasant change from the norm. The ingredients combine some unique ingredients such as miso, ginger, and lemon grass with such “traditional” hot sauce ingredients such as habanero peppers and Worcestershire sauce. It’s a very thin sauce, with no restrictor cap on the bottle, so you should pour the sauce with care so as to avoid spilling out more than you want. The aroma is mostly vinegar and Worcestershire, but you can detect the faint hint of habaneros as well.
Taste: Upon first taste, I was surprised at just how sweet this sauce is. There must be more sugar in the ginger juice than I expected, since the sweetness hits your palate right away. It’s a rather “light” sauce in flavor, with obvious ginger, lime, and Worcestershire overtones. The heat comes through as an aftertaste, but definitely has the mouth feel of habanero…even if it is so touched with sweetness. I’ll call the heat about 3/10, with not much buildup with additional consumption.
More than most sauces I’ve tried of late, this sauce seems to have the least utility in terms of variety…but what it does well is totally outstanding. This may be one of the best hot sauces I’ve tried on fish, perhaps ever. Whether by design or not, this sauce goes with most kinds of fish, although I really can say I tried it only on Mahi Mahi and with shrimp. In both cases, the light flavor really lends itself well to that sort of meal. With other meats, it didn’t seem to fare as well with the darker meats as compared to lighter meats such as chicken and turkey. Try some of this over grilled chicken and be surprised at how well this sauce flavors the meat. Mix it half-and-half with a little olive oil to make a salad dressing that has a neat spicy-sweet taste.
Overall recommendation: What this sauce lacked in overall utility in our kitchen was more than made up for in finding the right fare to use it upon. There are certainly more uses than we came up with in limited testing, but this sauce offers you a mostly-sweet-but-a-little-spicy option to use in your cooking. Pour it over some meat you like to make a meal which might truly beckon to some of the wonderful fare you might find in Hawaii…and without having to buy a plane ticket to get it. A unique sauce that you’ll need to try to appreciate. Enjoy!