The Austin Chronicle

In Print

Reviewed by Jessi Cape, August 24, 2012, Food

Hot Sauce! Techniques for Making Signature Hot Sauces With 32 Recipes To Get You Started

by Jennifer Trainer Thompson Storey Publishing, 192 pp., $14.95 (paper)

The mischievous element of heat, and its darling counterpart, flavor, are the royal siblings of the hot sauce realm, but proper technique is their beloved governess. Jennifer Trainer Thompson imparts her expert food knowledge in Hot Sauce! and provides user-friendly core strategies spanning global cuisine, including recipes for hot sauces, drinks, dips, small foods, stews, barbecue, and more. The fascinating, albeit brief, history lesson of the world's favorite condiment and its individual components inspire the journey for discovering a signature flavor. Thompson includes the story of the McIlhenny Company's famous Tabasco sauce plus descriptions of regional sauces, chiles, and other ingredients (vinegars, fruits, herbs, spices). Useful for its beer pairing guide and heat index, this book will also appeal to fans and friends of The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival with its "Getting Into the Hot Sauce Business" section. And, lucky for locals, the majority of Thompson's recipes feature ingredients found at local farmers' markets year-round.

My first venture into the book was successful and fun, and resulted in narsharab (pomegranate sauce), tomatillo salsa verde, and sriracha. Three fresh sauces in under an hour, all vibrant and delicious. Experiencing narsharab opened the avenue to Persian hot sauces, and its unique balance of sweet and savory would double as an excellent marinade. The tomatillo salsa verde is standard issue, but certainly reaffirmed my obsession with the husked green fruit. Thompson's sriracha recipe is flexible with the type and number of chiles required, and although my habanero inclusion required bio-hazard handling, the end result was an any-time-of-day mealtime staple. For those with a devilish streak, recipes such as Back Draft and Satan Sauce might be appealing; for me, the clean layout that keeps steps and ingredient lists to a minimum makes Hot Sauce! a winner. Thompson's storage tips lend themselves to gift-giving once a favorite sauce is discovered.

Peppered with anecdotes and cultural tidbits, this book is perfect for heat-seekers and milder foodies alike.

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