If you’re anything like me, you will love a touch of spice with your dish and according to consumer research group IRI, the rest of the UK is spicing it up too. Sales of chilli sauce increased by 1.7% in the 12 months leading to October last year, totalling £21m, despite the overall table sauce category sales falling by 0.3%.
It’s clear to see that the UK palette has a taste for the punchier stuff and is perhaps turning away from traditional ketchups and condiments. The Tabasco bottle is being joined in the fridge by likes of chipotle, Harissa, wasabi and Sriracha. The recipe occasions in which we use hot sauce are also on the up, with spice now featuring in pretty much anything. Salads, pastas, potatoes, sauces, stew even with our breakfast eggs. The addictive qualities of chilli based condiments were brought to light last year when the threat of potential factory closure of a popular brand of hot sauce sparked panic buying.
Restaurants and food outlets are the driving force of this consumer trend. The influx of multi-cultural cuisines that have found their way to the UK, through the likes of immigration and street food, all use chilli as a key ingredient. Mexican, Asian, Middle Eastern and American BBQ all feature a fiery punch are big news on the UK food scene. Hot condiments are not just restricted to Mexican or Asian restaurants, sauces like Sriracha can now be found on many restaurant, QSR and contract caterers’ tables, including the likes of Subway. Additionally, exotic flavours such as Korean sauce Gochujang can be seen paired with traditional British brisket rolls in restaurants like The Smoke House in Islington.
Here are my top sauces guaranteed to blow your customers’ socks off and have them coming back for more:
Sriracha – Popular in South East Asia and in particular Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. It’s the star of the moment and a perfect dipping or pouring sauce, especially for noodles and pho broth, but also great on burgers, chips and in marinades.
Chipotle – With a smoky flavour, chipotle provides an instant hint of BBQ without the grill. At Leathams we have an amazing chipotle in adobe sauce and chipotle chilli jam, which I think is the perfect ingredient for South American and Tex Mex dishes and spot on when used on burgers or in salsas.
Harissa – A hot North African chilli pepper paste made from a mix of spices and herbs. It is not only a great condiment in recipes such as tagines, couscous and falafels; it is for a delicious way of adding flavour to meats as a rub.
Roquito® Chilli Pepper Sauce – A favourite of mine. Pureed Roquito® chilli peppers made into an intensely sweet and fiery sauce. I use it as a condiment to add flavour and spice to many meat dishes and often mix it into passata for a punchy pizza base.
Wasabi – This ingredient has been in the UK market for a while, but wasabi is breaking out of its Japanese pigeon hole and finding its way into lots of great tasting recipes. Restaurants such as the Ledbury and Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir have both used wasabi as an ingredient with meat and fish dishes.
Horseradish – Fuelled by the trend in Nordic cuisine and the Scandinavian chefs who seemingly love it, this strong tasting sauce is having resurgence of late. No longer just dolloped on a beef roast, it’s being expertly used by chefs across the UK to add complex flavour to a variety of dishes.
Gochujang – Fresh off the back of the UK Korean BBQ scene, this spicy, slightly sweet, beautiful dark red fermented chili paste has been a staple ingredient in Korea for years. Now UK chefs are getting inventive by applying it to fusion dishes.
Shichimi – Meaning “seven flavour chili pepper” in Japanese, including nori, roasted orange peel, and ground ginger. This is great to add to many dishes, especially sprinkled over noodles.