I was contacted by a young man from Georgia by the name of Antonio Cadogan and was asked to review a Scotch Bonnet hot sauce of his own creation that he was looking to take from just being a hobby to actually bottling it and selling it commercially. Antonio himself is a U.S. Army veteran who originally hails from Panama, along with wife Leonora, and is looking for a co-packer to help with distribution of his sauce. We received this sample bottle in an not-so-aesthetically pleasing bottle, but it did have quite enough sauce for me to give this sauce a honest evaluation. Here’s the basics about it:
Ingredients: onions, mustard, vinegar, habanero pepper, salt
First impression: It’s a fairly thin sauce, mostly mustard-y yellow in color, with occasional pepper seeds floating within the sauce. In its current form, this would be a sauce that would require one of those silly restrictor-cap thingies to keep you from dousing your food with too much sauce as you pour it from the bottle. Making this sauce just a touch thicker might be nice…perhaps a little closer to the consistency of catsup or mustard but still pourable. The color is also a little too much like mustard as well. I would consider adding a little turmeric to make it more yellow (like many chinense peppers) or perhaps adding a little red pepper flake which would infuse a little more red color to the mix. Make this sauce a little more orange and I think it would help the color aesthetics quite a bit.
Taste: I carried this sauce with me to work for nearly two weeks. This wasn’t just so I could use it, but just to see what interest it would generate from some of my co-workers. After being assured it was not a specimen cup of some kind (I do work in a hospital, y’know), there were numerous requests to try this sauce. Overall, the response was enthusiastically positive. People seemed to really love the Scotch Bonnet flavor in this sauce. In fact, a couple of my fellow residents were asking where they could get more of this sauce because they loved it so much. It’s a good sign when you have to hide the bottle of sauce to keep prying hands from swiping it when you’re not looking.
As for me, I really like Scotch Bonnet sauces myself…so this sauce had a good taste to me as well. It has a serious vinegary bite to it and dominant Scotch Bonnet (chinense) flavor. The mustard flavor is much more of an aftertaste due to the potency of the peppers. This sauce packs some capsaicin heat whallop as well, and I’d rate the heat as about 8/10, with some accumulation the more that you eat. The taste is pretty much spot-on for a Scotch Bonnet sauce, but I’d like to see a wee bit more salt in this sauce to give some counter-bite to the vinegar and mustard. In fact, a variant that added a little fresh garlic might be a nice addition as well.
As for uses, this sauce was a bit liquidy to use with everything, so I used it a lot in foods that matched its consistency. So, foods like stews, soups, and chili were a great match to this sauce and the flavor/heat combo is a great addition to many of those. For salads that mix well with mustard (egg, tuna, chicken, etc), this sauce gave those have a spicy counterbalance of taste to those as well. I also thought this might be a nice addition to starchy rice dishes, such as paella or jambalaya, where the heaviness of the starch would benefit from a little heat, not to mention some serious Scotch Bonnet flavor.
Overall recommendation: For a sauce that’s been just a hobby thus far, this sauce has some serious potential. What few constructive criticism I had are more than matched by a great mix of flavor and heat. If you like Scotch Bonnet hot sauces, then keep an eye out for this sauce as it evolves and maybe it will become available for mass consumption. Antonio can be reached at his email address (click HERE) for sauce requests or other information. Enjoy!