The Origin of Hot Peppers and Where Does Hot Sauce Come From

Where Does Hot Sauce Come From by Lava LipsHabanero? Serrano? Harrissa? Gochujang? Where in the world does hot sauce come from????

Chili peppers and other hot spices have been around for thousands of years and humans have been using them to spice things up since the beginning. Residents of South and Central America along with Mexico have been using chili peppers for over 6,000 years. Around the 16th Century the chili pepper plant traveled into Europe and then to the eastern continents such as Asia and Africa. There they were altered and where began the hugely popular trend of making hot sauces. Sadly, most of the originally concocted hot sauce recipes of the 1800’s were lost over time. However, in 1868 one of the most well-known hot sauces was released in the United States, coining the term “hot sauce”, and it was called Tabasco Sauce. Even today it is among the most purchased condiments on the market.

Over the years chili peppers were being turned into different forms of hot sauce all over the world using some form of vinegar and salt or fruits and vegetables. They were being pureed, fermented, loosely chopped and really just being perfected by many cultures, each with their own special touch. Over time, hot sauces got hotter and hotter introducing the Ghost pepper, which is among the hottest peppers in the world today, according to the Scoville Scale (a scale that measures the pungency or “hotness” of a pepper).

Origin of Hot Peppers Throughout the World

While the origins of where hot sauce comes from is marinating in the Americas, let’s talk about what kind of flavors they often tossed in the mix. The Americas are famous for the following hot sauces:

  • Aji: This sauce is known as “The Green Sauce”. Aji’s key ingredients are Aji Peppers, Green Chilies, and either sour cream or mayo.
  • Cajun Pepper Sauces: Such as the world Famous Tabasco Pepper Sauce. These sauces are typically fermented with a mixture of chilies, vinegar and salt. Many other things are often added but that is the base for this mixture.
  • Mexican Salsa and Hot Sauce: Most Mexican hot sauces range between chunky salsas and Cajun-style fermented sauces. Most contain tomatoes and peppers like chilies and habaneros.

Just south of the Americas we enter the Caribbean Islands who proved that you do not need a lot of land to create great things. In the British Virgin Islands they added mustard oil giving it that unique yellow color. Some other sauces include:

  • Scotch Bonnett Pepper Sauce: Key ingredient is obviously Scotch bonnet peppers which are undoubtedly extremely hot. If you are looking for a good kick, look no further, it is as simple as Scotch Bonnet.
  • Ti-Malice: This sauce includes many ingredients such as onions, shallots, lime juice or sour oranges, garlic, sometimes tomatoes and of course scotch bonnet or habanero.

As the peppers make their way east, Europe decides to take a crack at formulating the greatest hot sauce. Here are a couple that they came up with:

  • Eros Pista: The Hungarians loved their paprika so this one is made primarily of peppers, minced paprika and salt.
  • Peri Peri: In Portugal they used a pepper called “Peri Peri”, which gets its name from the African Bird’s Eye Chili, along with vinegar, lemon, onion, salt and serrano pepper.

Moving along down and over to the Middle East and Africa you will notice a lot more red peppers and coriander in the mix. Such as these sauces:

  • Harissa: This is among the most popular condiments in North Africa. It includes red chilies, cumin, coriander and olive oil.
  • S’chug: This sauce is practically a staple in the Middle East. However, it was actually created and brought to Israel by the Yemeni Jews. It was made up of red chilies, green chilies, tomato, garlic and coriander.
  • Shatta: This one is made from ground chilies, coriander and olive oil as well but it also contains a tomato base as well as parsley.

And finally, over to Asia, where they created quite the variety of hot sauces and weren’t afraid to try new things. Many Included oils, fruits, vegetables and fermented soy beans. Here are Asia’s hottest masterpieces:

  • Achar: This one included chopped Indian pickles made from fruits, vegetables and spices cooked in oil or brined.
  • Chili Oil: This simple one is made from Vegetable oil infused with chili peppers.
  • Gochujang: Comes from chili peppers, sticky rice, fermented soybeans, sweetener and salt.
  • Nam Phrik: Translates to “chili water” and is formulated from crushed chilies, shallots, garlic and lime.
  • Sambal: Chili peppers are nearly ground to a paste in this sauce along with ingredients such as vinegar, ginger, sugar, shallots and lime.
  • Sriracha: This basic yet delicious sauce is made from Chili peppers, sugar, salt, garlic and vinegar.

By now you are a basically a pro on where Hot Sauce comes from. Get out there and taste what the world has to offer! That is, if your taste buds can handle it! At Lava Lips we are always up for a challenge. If you wish to take the challenge with us, call Lava Lips today for more information on the world’s Hot Dauces.

Lava Lips
PO Box 50528
Indianapolis, IN 46250