Sean Evans of "Hot Ones" talks to Smokin' Ed Currie, the “Michael Jordan of hot chilies”

Originally published at: Sean Evans of "Hot Ones" talks to Smokin' Ed Currie, the "Michael Jordan of hot chilies" | Boing Boing

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I took a beginners’ Indian cooking class a few weeks ago. One of the tips I loved was to adjust the heat of what you’re cooking, slit the pepper down its length, but leave it intact. Then just pull it out by the stem when you’ve reached the desired level of spice. It’s easier to handle, you’re less likely to get anything on your fingers that you can then transfer to other places, and you have more control.


I really wish I could do the Hot Ones challenge, but I’m afraid I’d just end up with a whole bunch of expensive-ass bottles I don’t use. We go through a ton of hot sauce here, and some are quite hot, but every one of them is a brand that I really like the flavor of or that the flavor melds well with a dish I make. I’ve never been one to go after the hottest things for the sake of hotness, but I do find myself getting more and more numb to even the hottest sauces I own these days. I’d like to see where Da Bomb is on my personal scale. It seems to be the one that really blasts people.

ETA: Actually, this makes me want to hear what others really love and the hottest in their collection. My current lineup in not particular order (stars indicate favorites):

**El Yucateco green
El Yucateco Blck Label Reserve (just burnt Yucateco)
***Huy Fong Chili Garlic
Habanero Heaven (wonderful mustard quality that pairs great with Caribbean dishes)
Tabasco (good, easy vinegary spice)
Badia Ghost pepper (much better and hotter than I expected)
Firelli (booooring! Nice bottle, though)
Pickapeppa (also boring, tastes like Worcestershire)
Frank’s (meh. Pantry staple)
Mr Bing Chili Crisp (not as good as…)
*Fly by Jing
My homemade, homegrown (by a friend) habanero (4 day lacto ferment with garlic and ginger; surprisingly tasty)

Currently absent:
Indian Mango/Lime pickle (no one around me sells it :weary:; @abides, find some for your Indian dishes. Yum!)

I tend to ignore anything with names like “Nuclear Death Zombie Murder Sauce” and most local/boutique sauces. I’m sure I’m missing some great stuff, but most of them I’ve had are either boring flavor-wise or one-dimensional spice-wise. Also, added fruit is almost always a pass for me. I’m sure it can be done well, but it almost never is (mango pickle is the exception because it’s baller).

What’s your list, BBS?


My favorite all around hot sauce to use on everything is Cholula. I think it has a really good flavor, and that’s more important to me than being hot enough to cause an endorphin rush. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I love a good chili caused endorphin rush. Just not every day.

El Yucateco is pretty good, although I don’t currently have any. It’s not always easy to find in the part of New Jersey I’m in.

I do not like Tabasco. It just tastes like vinegar to me. It’s just too vinegary for my tastes.

I currently have a mix of hot sauces of various styles, flavors, and heats that someone got me I think from Costco for Christmas. Nothing name brand. They’re ok, and I’m trying to be good and use all of them before I go buy something better.

I have had Da Bomb Beyond Insanity, the sauce Hot Ones uses infamously at #8 every season. By the way, if you buy the package of Hot Ones hot sauces, they don’t include that one. They substitute a slightly more palatable sauce from Da Bomb. The one they use on the show is terrible. It is one of the most vile tasting things I’ve ever put in my mouth. And yes, it is insanely hot. There is nothing enjoyable about it. It tastes terrible. It makes you nauseous. It continues to burn for what feels like forever, and then it returns several hours later, if you know what I mean. It was never meant to be eaten like that. It is, essentially, capsaicin extract. In addition to being super hot, it’s also super bitter. It’s meant to be used in tiny amounts in large batches of chili con carne to jack up the heat level without affecting the overall flavor too much. Eating it as a hot sauce is just a really bad idea.


Right now I have some
Franks, for when I want vinegar with a kick
El Yucateco green and Red Habanero
Sauce Shop Habanero (just aged habanero, salt and vinegar, really fruity)

I’m on an add some dried bird’s eye pepper to a dish kick at the moment, adds heat without radically altering the flavor.


The restaurant chain Fresh in Toronto (used to be called Juice for Life) have a great recipe for their hot sauce. I make tonnes of it and give it away. It’s cooked, not fermented, so really beginner-friendly. I’ll see if I have it typed out.

The chef mentioned the pickle and chutney side of things as well. We tend to like things spicy in our house (including the kid), so I make stuff hot. I’m lucky living in England; it’s quite easy to find good pickle.


Unless the capsaicin irritates your stomach enough, in which case your stomach acid does the hole-burning.

I’m a fan of spicy foods, but just as long as there is flavor as well. Eating spicy food that just brings the heat and ends up making everything taste like rubber is stupid in my opinion.

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most of the sauces in our house are those i make from peppers we grow. i do both fresh, whole pepper salsitas, as well as fermented sauces. habanero, serrano, red and green chilies, fresno and some exotic varietals. these keep us happy and hot year-round.
as for commercial sauces, we keep a few, but i find most rather boring. what’s in the cupboard right now?

  • El Yucateco green (almost as good as mine, but Belizean brand Marie Sharp’s has a special place in my heart. try it if you can find it.)
  • Melinda’s jolokia (the only ghost pepper sauce for me)
  • Walkerswood Jamaican scotch bonnet (not that great)
  • Frank’s wing sauce (for wings, duh.)
  • Iguana chunky habanero (really good. local.)
  • Huy Fong sriracha (boring)
  • Huy Fong sambal (not boring)
  • Tabasco (boring, but only used on eggs and grits or raw oysters)
  • Valentina (for tacos)
  • Old Bay hot sauce (meh. good on lobster mac-n-cheese)

as mentioned above, those “stunt” sauces that just add pure capsaicin for “super rad double extra gonzo” hot are just stupid. hot pepper sauces should be all about flavor first. it had better taste good, hot is subjective and individual.

Edits: some additional comments on those commercial sauces.


Green Cholula (this goes on eggs mainly)
Tabasco (this goes in soups mainly)
Huy Fong Chili Garlic (I put this in everything that’s a rice dish. I just feel this has so much better of a flavor/heat ratio than sriracha that I never find myself reaching for sriracha anymore)
Louisiana Hot Sauce (I feel like I dont see this as much as I used to? I put this on rice and beans a lot back in the day so to me it tastes like nostalgia)
And a friend of a nephew or something is involved with making Monoloco, I use their delicious infused chili oil but I just now googled to find out they do hot sauces that have been on Hot Ones!


gotta like your inclusion of Louisiana hot sauce. red beans and rice just ain’t the same without that particular flavor note and spice punch!
fun fact: Louisiana hot sauce is lacto fermented, as is Tabasco and sriracha.


That I can get locally. I’ll grab some.

Even though the chili garlic is my overall favorite of all time, I’ve never actually had this. I don’t know why, it’s almost like I don’t want to be disappointed based on how much I love the other.

Tabasco on Army MRE spaghetti was my first revelatory hot sauce experience. But then it became bottom-rung in my mind because of the vinaigery-ness. Recently, though I’ve been realizing how handy it is in something that wants to be cut with vinegar (like MRE spaghetti). And watching videos of their process gave me a much deeper respect. It’s incredibly hands-on and not typical. ETA: Oh yeah, also great for oysters like @FloridaManJefe says as well as Frankie’s Caesar dressing recipe.

See, even more reason not to do it. The way people react is always negative, but they really seem to like the ones that come later and hotter, especially Apollo. It’s really the one I’m most curious about, but know I would hate.

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Yeah, ok, that one I’ll give you. Tabasco is good on Oysters.

A couple of people here mentioned Melinda’s Jolokia. I’ll have to see if I can find that, because that reminded me that I have a bottle of Melinda’s Creamy Style Ghost Pepper Wing Sauce, and I was really pleasantly surprised at how good that was.


I love Mr naga sauces/pickles - they are made in the UK and hard to come by, if you do find one try it. It was a revelation for me.

Then anything Caribbean, esp from Trinidad or Jamaica but also other islands. I’ve never had any bad sauces from there, at least the ones that make it out here to Germany for export.

Finally, Chiu chow chili oil. The best thing I know. I could put this on anything. So good.


Something is in the air, I guess. Last night, Mrs Peas, the little and I had a rare night out. There is a Tibetan/Vietnamese Pho place locally and they had a chili crisp for the table. It was so good I asked if they sell it and they do! $12.99 for a pint. It’s gorgeous, rich and hot as hell.


Found the recipe I mentioned! Had it in Paprika.

Fresh (Juice for Life) Hot Sauce

Prep Time: 15 min | Cook Time: 30 min | Difficulty: Easy


4 Scotch bonnet peppers

½ red onion, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

2 cloves garlic

½ inch fresh ginger

1 sprig thyme, leaves removed from woody stems

1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed from woody stems

½ cup tamari

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 stalk lemon grass, trimmed and chopped into 3-inch pieces

¼ cup Dijon mustard

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp cayenne pepper

½ tsp crushed chilies

¼ tsp oregano

¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cumin


Purée Scotch bonnets, red onion, green onions, garlic, ginger, thyme and rosemary in a food processor.

Pour the purée into a saucepan and add tamari. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until mixture turns dark brown.

Add balsamic vinegar, lemongrass, Dijon mustard, curry powder, cayenne pepper, chilies, oregano, cinnamon and cumin.

Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool.


This sauce keeps indefinitely in the fridge.


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