We wouldn’t say that we’re hot sauce connoisseurs, but we are a bit chilli obsessed. OK, not a bit, a lot obsessed. Nothing obscenely hot, after all, a numb tongue and streaming tears is a less than desirable way to enjoy your food. Instead, we like a nice kick, preferably, with a low, slow, lingering heat that sits on the back of the tongue, rather than engulfing your whole tongue in a regrettable inferno. Usually, we’d rely on fresh or dried chilies or even a chilli oil to deliver this, as many of the bottled sauces are full of additives and are much more of the tongue numbing variety. BUT we’ve found a hot sauce that we gladly eat on everything–surely a resounding testament of a good hot sauce.
Meet El Niño, a small-batch fermented hot sauce made in Hackney using Ancho chillies with a few Carolina Reapers (the world’s hottest chillies) thrown in. Don’t get me wrong these chillies pack heat, but they key is in the fermentation process, which takes off the headyness and leaves you with a low, slow build up that is rounded and slightly smoky. We’ve tried it on pasta (yes, pasta), with cheese (a winner with stilton), eggs and avocado as well as more traditional Mexican fare and all were winners.
El Nino is the brainchild of chef Damian Currie, who started making hot sauce while working in a cafe in Haggerston a few years ago to serve with breakfast and brunch offerings, but also wanted something that work with the dinner menu much of which was cooked on a charcoal grill (the hot sauce worked amazingly as a marinade). Damian described the first incarnation of the sauce as comically hot, evoking images of a particular scene in Aliens. Nevertheless, customers loved it and he knew he was on to something, and El Niño was born.
And when he’s not making hot sauce you can find Damian running the kitchen over at Fuel 4 Learning, an East-London based schools catering company providing impressively delicious and nutritious school meals.
Place your orders (and we suggest you stock up when you do) online via their website or by phone on 07793953706.