Thursday, January 3, 2008

It's cold outside, but this'll warm you up

OK, it's not really that hot.

But it is quite possibly one of my favorite things about food -- hot sauces of all types and when (and how much) you should use them.

My favorite is the green Tabasco, which is milder -- i.e., it won't kill you -- and is really good on dishes that include chicken, fish, rice and things like casseroles and soups (when you don't want to have your tongue destroyed). It's also a good starter sauce; it's hard to make a mistake with it. My daughter likes a small drop of it on some of her food. (Startin' 'em early at my house.)

Hot sauces are like wines and beers; everyone has a favorite, and you can't convince anyone that they're wrong. There are times when I think the best is the cheap, 50-cent sauce that you see on the tables of Cajun joints -- just plain hot sauce that has a good taste, not too much, not too little. I also have my preference for sauces to use in Bloody Marys, for instance. It's not the same sauce that I want on my oysters.

Tabasco's Web site isn't bad. It's pretty good, in fact. It has links to all of its products, with recipes and all sorts of things to try. Check it out.

My advice: If a hot sauce labels itself as being "hotter than ... ", don't buy it. It's going too much for the heat and too little for the taste. The best sauces are the ones that have enough heat to burn if you overuse, but also have a wonderful taste when you use in moderation.