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How to Pair Food with Hot Sauce

Believe it or not, there’s an art and science on how to pair hot sauce and food. Chefs and food scientists have spent years deciphering exactly why particular foods work well together and we can use their basic principles to ensure that every time we douse our food in hot sauce, we’re getting the best possible flavor combination with every bite.

For instance, according to chef and author of The Flavor Matrix—James Briscione, chili peppers “have these big powerful fruit aromas” that are often lost because of their heat. So, incorporating fruit into a hot sauce elevates the sweet and tropical undertones of the pepper and eases some of the burn.

The habanero, one of the spicier of the capsicum pepper genus, can be described as “fruity, citrus-like, and floral” despite its heat. It’s considered an “excellent aromatic match” with bell pepper, apricot brandy, and pineapple. Try experimenting with the match by adding our Habanasco-Fermented Habanero Sauce to a pineapple salsa. The combo works because they share molecular flavor compounds, not to be mistaken for molecular taste compounds that relate to smell and not taste… or is it taste and not smell? Confused? So are we.

Basically, you don’t need to be a scientist or a chef to understand how to pair flavors together, and when it comes to hot sauce, as a general rule contrast is your friend. Here at African Dream Foods, we’ve put together some of our own pairings to inspire you on your hot sauce pairing journey.

Habanero-Pepper-Pineapple-Salsa
Fruits and Vegetables in Hot Sauce

Our Jalapeno sauce is vinegar forward making it ideal for cutting through rich foods. We age our Jalapenos for up to 12 months resulting in a sharp, crisp sauce with a mild tang.

Acidity is the best way to offset dense flavors, so try drizzling it over avocado toast or mixing it into guacamole. You could even try this pairing by making our Jalanasco Dipping Sauce that incorporates avocado and yogurt in the recipe. Both avocado and yogurt are rich full flavors that call for the zesty bite of our sauce to add something special.

The hottest in the African Dream Foods repertoire, this sauce is perfect for a blast of heat in dairy-rich or sweet foods that can sustain a tasty kick in the stomach. It’s described as “not for spice amateurs” however, pairing it with creamy mac and cheese will help cushion the blow.

You could also try our Ghost Pepper Spicy Cornbread recipe that uses buttermilk and sugar to cut the heat resulting in a sweet, hot flavor explosion that will appease both Northern and Southern cornbread connoisseurs.

This sauce has a sweet chutney consistency with a tingly hint of spice.

It’s mild and more of a glaze than a hot sauce and so it pairs perfectly with salty foods. It elevates any cheese board but works especially well with briny salty cheeses like halloumi and feta. Its sticky, sweetness also makes the perfect pork marinade. Use it as jam on a bagel, or actually, have it by the spoonful while nibbling on whatever you can find. This one’s so good, we’re pretty sure you can pair it with almost anything.

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