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Scorpion Peppers © Chili Pepper Madness
New York City’s first Hot Sauce Expo, at East River State Park from April 20 to 21, will feature more than 100 lip-tingling sauces from across the country, a chile-packed brownie-eating challenge and a chicken wing cook-off; admission is $10. (With $100 VIP tickets, add an open bar, private restrooms and free bottles of sauce.)
But true hot sauce geeks will be there to seek out new products made with the world’s reigning hottest chile, the Moruga Scorpion. At a preview of the event, High River Sauces owner Steve Seabury called the chile the next big trend in fiery condiments. The golf ball-size bright red pepper eclipsed its predecessor, the ghost chile, in February 2012 when New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute crowned it king of hotness.
After sampling hot sauces made with this chile, F&W can attest to its intensity. Your throat heats up, your face starts to flush and the people around you express concern. Your mouth tingles and finally you break a sweat. But in that pain there is pleasure: The flavor is sweet and fruity and once you have consumed enough milk to numb the pain, the final feeling is mild euphoria.
Here, three daring hot sauce makers that are now using the Scorpion chile.
Amusingly, founder John Hard left his career as a fire protection engineer to launch CaJohns. The company makes multiple products using the Scorpion pepper, including puree, salsa, barbecue sauce and four hot sauces: Trinidad Moruga Scorpion Hot Sauce, Sancto Scorpio (a portion of the sales proceeds go to fund chile pepper research), Moruga Madness, and El Chupacabra, which pairs the ultrahot Scorpion with the also famously spicy ghost pepper.
The New Jersey-based hot sauce producer’s newest sauce, Trinidad Scorpion Deathmatch Mark IV Cluckwing Orange Wing Sauce, comes with a warning: “This is NOT supposed to be used straight on wings,” the website advises. Instead, the company recommends that dashes of the bright and incendiary sauce be used as an additional sauce for those who really need to feel the heat.
Based in New York’s Hudson Valley, this company was one of the first to release a Scorpion chile-based hot sauce, in 2011. Owners Johnny and Nicole McLaughlin temper the 1498 Trinidad Scorpion Sauce with not-quite-as-hot Scotch bonnet chiles, along with apricot preserves, blueberries, carrots and honey. If that’s too mild, the 1498 Cauterizer eschews the Scotch bonnets for a blend that uses only Scorpion peppers.