Hot, Hot, Hot: Add Fire to Your Condiment Game on National Hot Sauce Day

A new wave of chile-laden sauce in the U.S. is challenging Mexico’s red-hot dominance

I’ve always enjoyed the firmly rooted Mexican dining codes–certain foods like barbacoa and menudo on weekend mornings only, roasted-meat tacos at night even if you’re right next to the beach, certain tacos de guisado during the workweek–but never could understand why we use hot sauces almost exclusively for seafood and junk food like tostilocos. That’s what’s fun about living in the U.S., because today, January 22, is National Hot Sauce Day and those in the States can use hot sauce anyplace and anytime.

While there have always been super scorchers at your local hot sauce boutiques, many with labels depicting the painful aftermath of consuming high capsaicin levels in potty-humor illustrations and with names that include the words “ass,” “butt,” or “hell,” we are now turning the other cheek. A new wave of traditional and artisanal hot sauces is entering the marketplace like these three tasty options (all made in the U.S.) you might want to consider adding to your pantry.

Salsa Sinaloa is popping up all over Los Angeles at our top Mexican mariscos trucks and restaurants like Mariscos Jalisco, Mariscos El Moreno, and Mariscos El Cristalazo, as well as Mexican markets and bakeries. They have a medium-hot wild chiltepin sauce, the XXX Hot with a tart sting of green habaneros, and a well-balanced sauce that has just enough habaneros to capture the essence of Mexico’s go-to hot pepper for those who enjoy the potent chili’s great taste.

Chefs Christian Page and Willy Barling of Willy B’s are creating raw and fermented hot sauces that are some of the best products I’ve tried in a while. The Orange Hot Sauce combines a classic blend of carrots and habaneros balanced by spices and vinegar that really bring out the flavors of the chiles and carrots. The Green Hot Sauce is thick and full of roasted tomatillo and fresh chiles, while the Red Hot Sauce displays the bright tones of Fresno chiles.

Not yet available but coming soon to Wheat and Sons at the Packing House in Anaheim is chef Roland Rubalcava’s Gallo Chino, a Fresno chile sauce offering a complex interplay of spice, sweetness, and a mild smokiness that’s addictive.