#31 Hot Sauce

Some say that variety is the spice of life, well they’re wrong …hot sauce is the spice of life chére. Just ask any self respecting Coonass. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a bottle of hot sauce is never far away from the kitchen table. When it comes to hot sauce, no food is safe. Some like a dash of hot sauce over their morning eggs, or add a few drops to their gumbo or jambalaya to give it a little kick. The most hardcore hot sauce aficionados even carry their own sauce around with them.

While Tabasco may be the undisputed king of the hot sauces in terms of sales, there are many other popular Louisiana hot sauces, like Louisiana and Crystal. And let’s not forget the thousands of different homemade chow chows floating around Acadiana. Each sauce has it’s own personality and area of strength. Tabasco is great when you want to add some pure heat to your dish, but it tends to overwhelm a dish with its vinegary flavor (a taste that millions of people apparently like). Both Louisiana and Crystal are milder than Tabasco and are great for adding a little spice to your dish without have to face the morning after repercussions (hey, I not above making a poo joke). If you want to start a fight with a Coonass, just tell him that your favorite hot sauce is better than his.

I don’t want to hear about this hot sauce that’s a million times hotter than the ones here. It’s no big trick to make a novelty hot sauce that’s too hot to taste. What’s hard is to make a hot sauce that people actually want to add to their foods, that people actually crave. Cajun food has been stereotyped as anything that’s either blackened or super spicy. Major restaurant chains regularly pull “Cajun” versions of dishes out of their bag of marketing tricks. Most of these dishes are made by simply adding tons of spice to the original dish, and hope their customers don’t know the difference. Any true Coonass knows that while out food is well seasoned, it’s seldom too spicy to eat.

When it comes to hot sauce, there’s no right answer. You just have to go with your gut…or butt (see, I did it twice).


23 thoughts on “#31 Hot Sauce

  1. Thanks for mentioning the stereotypes of Cajun food (something I am currently researching). When I lived in Philly I ordered, a “Cajun Chicken” dish that was probably the most disgusting thing I’ve ever tried. I asked the waitress why they called it “Cajun” and she said because they put a lot of Cayenne pepper on it! Anyway, back to the topic at hand, here are some numbers from the 70 gumbo recipes I have mapped in GIS: 10 specificall call for Tabasco, 5 call for the Louisiana Hot Sauce Brand (Bruce Foods also in New Iberia), and 3 just call for hot sauce without specifying. Now that is 18 recipes out of the 70 that say something about hot sauce. To be honest the overwhelming majority seasoning is actually Tony’s. I thought hot sauce would have shown up more than it did but I’ve only started so those numbers could increase.

  2. I did a taste test last night between Louisiana and Tabasco (didn’t have any Crystal on hand). I tasted a bit of Louisiana on the tip of my finger, and it had a nice spicy garlic flavor. No lingering effects. Next, I did the same with the Tabasco, and my mouth was flooded the vinegar flavor, and the hotness overwhelmed my mouth for a few minutes. As you’ve probably figured out by now, my vote goes to Louisiana Hot Sauce.

    I have Tony Chachre’s, but rarely cook anything with it. It was always a good shortcut when cooking at a camp, since you only needed that one seasoning.

  3. Bruce Foods is the major competition to Tabasco when it comes to hot sauce. Tabasco started the whole “Hot Sauce” festival in part due to this rivalry. I am curious to find out if brand loyalty of hot sauce is based on the geographic subregions of Acadiana.

  4. I’m a fan of Crystal (Made in New Orleans B4 Katrina) As stated, it adds flavor without adding much heat. That is because it is made with cayenne, rather than tabasco peppers. First thing I bought when the grocery store opened after Katrina was buy Crystal sauce to add to my MREs.

    When I travel internationally, I always carry two bottles of Crystal. Why two, you ask? Because someone is bound to steal one when they find out how good it is.

    Adding heat to a dish is a science. The expert at it was Warren LeRuth. If you have a good palate, you find that peppers affect different areas of the tongue. I differentiate by calling them “front of the mouth” and “back of the mouth”. Then there’s always the delayed back of the throat burn. Like a party in your mouth. Experiment and you’ll see what I mean.

  5. On most every food situation that calls for hot sauce, I go for Bruce Foods Louisiana Hot Sauce. However I must admit that when it comes to oysters, I do prefer Tabasco. Occasionally on my eggs as well. But there is almost no comparison between the two in my opinion. Louisiana Hot Sauce is just so full of flavor I can really just about eat it by itself.

  6. Despite the New Orleans’ company’s annoying appropriation of the word ‘Cajun,’ I’m really liking Cajun Sunshine hot sauce, especially on foods with a delicate flavor. It doesn’t have as much heat or vinegary bite as Tabasco, and it’s a bit mellower than Crystal or Louisiana. It’s really good on shrimps, oysters, eggs, grits, and so on. It’s got such a nice flavor, you could slop it on some bread and eat it like that. Overall, though, I have more love in my heart for Tabasco than any other brand, mainly because of those school trips to Avery Island. I still have my souvenir petite baton rouge somewhere. Et toi?

  7. I love Louisiana hot sauce. It truely is perfection. I remember having more than one discussion with friends as to what hot sauce goes best on what food. E.g. Crystal on french fry poboys and potato salad sandwiches. Presonnaly, i stick to Louisana and Huy Fong chili garlic sauce (not Cajun).

    • Hi, I have been using “ortego” hot sauce for about 20 years. Was made in an “at home operation in Ville Platt Louisiana. They stopped making it a few years ago. Best hot sauce ever. I like Tabasco but Ortegos anyday as with anyone else I have ever known to use it. I used to mix it with One of trappys sauces also. Good on anything.
      Brett Duhon
      Singer, LA

      • I have one lone bottle of Ortego’s left from my travels down South. I pleaded with the makers of it to keep making it. I used to buy it by the caseload from them. I was sad when they stopped making it. I have tasted no other like it. The memories will live on though.

    • The man that made ortego’s hot sauce was “Mr. Allen Ortego” it was made in cazans lake at Allen’s camp right outside of ville platte!! They no longer make it cause mr. Allen is around 90 and his family didn’t want to continue making it, his nephew did for a short time but stopped!! Me Allen planted grew and harvested all of his own peppers at his camp for his hot sauce!! I grew up down the road from his camp!! My mom is a CNA and she takes care of Mr. Allen in his home!! He his a real good person and his hot sauce was the best hands down!! His son gave my mom a bottle not long ago from their warehouse and she gave me half cause I love it and wanted my wife to try it sense she is from north of Alex. She had never heard of it!!!

  8. For me Tabasco is THE standard. I can accept that thee ae othe sauses out there that may taste better, but, having gown up with the factory within a 10 min drive, I feel a loyalty with it that I can’t deny. Bruce Foods is now just aound the corner from my folks place and it their products come a close second.
    My blood starts to boil everytime I ask for Tabasco at restaurants and they bring me some other sauce. If I ask fo Texas Pete, would I get something else??? What about Cajun Sunshine, Red Devil, While I think every place should offer Tabasco in addition to whatever they may offer, I cannot accept that they can’t tell the difference. Maybe it’s a testament to the place it holds in our American culture that folks no longer make that distinction.
    I never raise a fuss about it, but recently I had a waiter immediately asked if the green stuff was OK (it wasn’t) as that was the only Tabasco product they currently had (although I would think the bar had some for Bloody Marys). I complimented him on his ability to make the distinction and gave him a big tip.

  9. Crystal has a very “green” flavor similar to the milder green Tabasco, which I like a lot. Louisiana Brand has the highest salt content and is too salty for me and I don’t get a distinct pepper taste. Tabasco is good if you need a vinegar/spice kick but can be overpowering. I like Crystal best for most purposes but you can sub green Tabasco.

  10. Recently I tried the Tabasco Habanero. It was actually pretty good and hot of course. Better flavor than original, thicker consistency. That will stay in the cabinet for sure.

  11. Almost forgot. I’m working on a drilling rig in southern bolivia and in the galley they have both tobasco and louisiana gold.

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