Hot Sauce in The City
Recent studies have shown that love of spicy food is linked an adventurous personality. Well, this list is one for the risk takers, the adrenaline junkies, and the hotheads. For this type of person, the only thing that can make a good meal even better is the addition of just the right type of hot sauce. Every cuisine calls for its own style, from thin and watery with a shock of spice for Lebanese food, to rich and creamy to mellow out a high-octane pepper in Jamaican food. Here’s where to find Seattle’s treasure trove of hidden hot sauces, at high-end pizza joints and hole-in-the-wall African restaurants alike.
Caribbean food is designed to make the eater sweat. Island Soul’s fervent use of peppers at the high-end of the Scoville scale is just in keeping with Jamaica’s culinary traditions. After all, in hot climates, sweating is the body’s natural air-conditioning. Most of the food is toned down just a bit, so that everybody can eat unafraid, but for those searching for five-star spice, just a touch of the house-made habanero hot sauce will take the goat stew or jerk chicken wings over the top.
Brandon Pettit’s pizzeria is often commended for its idyllic setting, exquisitely charred pies, and farm-to-table toppings. What flies under the radar is the chili-infused oil, silky-smooth and redolent of the fruitiness of peppers. The oil slides easily over the top of pizza—especially great with some of the vegetable heavy-toppings, such as kale—but really is at its best on the leftover pieces of crust at the end of the slice.
The thin red sauce of puréed peppers and herbs floats on and off the menu, but those in the know will ask their server, as it’s almost always available. Prior to discovering the sauce, it was hard to imagine that there was a way to improve upon Munir’s perfectly grilled chicken skewers, served with a cooling garlic sauce. Then, with the addition of the hot sauce, it suddenly came even more alive, a fiery foil for the otherwise tame dish.
Resplendent in orange, clearly homemade and fresh as can be, Jane Kagira’s hot sauce is a secret blend of five peppers, the hottest of which is habanero. She won’t tell much about the rest of the ingredients to her sauce, which goes equally well on the stir-fry accompanying a sunshine-yellow, curry-drenched tilapia; and the pan-fried goat, off which one picks the meat using chapati, a Kenyan (via Indian settlers) flatbread. What it doesn’t have, she will proudly tell anyone, is sugar or vinegar. The untempered spice is unusual, vibrant, and just a little bit overwhelming—in the way that spice-hunters love.
In need of an outlet for her effervescent enthusiasm for all things edible, Naomi Bishop started sharing her thoughts on food at her blog, TheGastroGnome, in 2006. Her lack of fear—she’ll eat anything and go anywhere—lead her to discover restaurants hidden in plain sight or find the most delicious needle in the haystack of a menu. Her writing appears on Serious Eats, Eat Your World, and in the Seattle Weekly. Download her app, Unique Eats of the Northwest to find the best restaurants you’ve never tried.