Best Local Hot Sauces–and Other Spicy Foods TooYou eat that first mouthful of a dish, and your mouth feels like it’s on fire, a burning sensation both intense and pleasurable. The heat from spicy food derives primarily from capsaicin, a compound in chili peppers that activates the multitude of pain receptors on your tongue. The heat level of a pepper depends on where it falls on the Scoville Scale, named after Wilbur Scoville who in 1912 started measuring capsaicin concentration. The Scale assigns a specific pepper a certain number of Scoville Heat Units (SHU), ranging from 0 SHU for a bell pepper, over a million SHU for a ghost pepper, to an insane 2.2 million SHU for the Carolina Reaper pepper.
Studies have found enjoying spicy food is equivalent to thrill seeking for your palate. Besides the enjoyment from heightened sensations from hot peppers, spicy food also has other benefits, including balanced energy and reduced inflammation. All these positive effects give you all the more reason to reach for that hot sauce and spicy food on the table.
Where to Buy the Best Local Hot SaucesHot sauce lovers have reason to celebrate! With British Columbians becoming increasingly more interested in adding levels of heat to their food, the number of local hot sauces available has exploded. Many popular restaurants, like in Anh and Chi and Juke Fried Chicken in Vancouver, bottle their own house-made hot sauces, while both online and in-person specialty grocery stores carry locally-made options. For the best selection, visit So.Low Foods, whose Hot Spot stocks over 200 kinds of hot sauce, including local brands. They even have a Sauce Club subscription for receiving a different hot sauce every month.
Otherwise, you can find local hot sauces at craft markets and farmers markets where vendors provide samples of their red-hot products.
Types of Hot SaucesThe most common type of hot sauce in North America originates from a Louisiana-style formula that combines chiles, vinegar, and various seasonings, like salt and spices. However, there are many other types of hot sauces around the world, such as sriracha, the sweet, garlicky hot sauce from Thailand, and gochujang, the Korean fermented chili paste that has a definite spicy, sweet kick. Other global hot sauces include Chinese chili oil, North African harissa, and Jamaican scotch bonnet pepper sauce.
Local Hot Sauces to PurchaseHere is a sample of the many excellent local hot sauces available:
If you’re looking for inventive spins on classic sriracha, this Vancouver-based business has a range of sauces that will add tons of flavour to your food. Jordan Hocking, founder of Sriracha Revolver Hot Sauce, is an Indigenous entrepreneur and mom who makes small batches of sriracha using all-natural, preservative-free ingredients. Her flavours include a Clean Mango Sriracha sauce, which tastes sweet and savoury, with a bit of funk from anchovy, as well as a zingy Cilantro Lime Sriracha with pickled ginger. Her hot sauces pair well with a variety of dishes, including noodles, stir fries, and sushi.
Prepare to get saus-y with this plant-based, gluten-free, all-natural hot sauce. Saus’ founder Seamus Dixon tried over 100 different hot sauces in his desire to produce his own signature hot sauce. He created an explosion of flavour in his Coffee Hot Saus by blending espresso, harissa, Turkish urfa biber, garlic, onion, and cayenne. Expect notes of caramel, tobacco, and chocolate.
Kula Foods crafts Afro-centric vegan food that bursts with flavour. Their Pili Pili, an East African hot sauce, will take your cooking up a heat notch. The gluten-free sauce brings together ingredients like tomato paste, chili peppers, onion, garlic, and vinegar to make a condiment that goes beautifully with stews, curry, and soups.
Couple Austin and Tara Hill had a dream to make a tastier hot sauce that showcases local ingredients. They launched Roasters Hot Sauce in 2015 and currently source at least 90% of their produce from multiple organic BC farms. Because they fire roast their ingredients, their sauces have lovely charred flavour. Start with their Roasted Habanero Original, which contains fire roasted habanero peppers, fresh organic carrots, onion, and garlic, before trying out other flavours like Roasted Garlic Jalapeño and Roasted Habanero Pineapple.
The True Nosh Company’s XOXO Sauce
While XO sauce usually derives its flavour from dried scallops and shrimp, the True Nosh Company has come up with a vegan, gluten-free version using ingredients such as day lily petals, wake seaweed, nutritional yeast, and wood ear fungus to create complex taste. Thai and red chiles give the sauce that necessary heat while dates impart sweetness, without the need for added sugar. Owner and Registered Dietician Renée Chan is committed to combating diabetes and using wholesome, local ingredients that keep the body healthy and vibrant.
The Phamily Table’s Chili SaucesChef/owner Brandon Pham melds his Vietnamese culinary heritage with his chef’s training to create simple sauces that maximize the flavour of local natural ingredients. All his sauces are vegan, gluten-free, and low in sodium. For hot sauce lovers, The Phamily Table offers a Red Chili Sauce composed of roasted chilis, tomatoes, vinegar, and garlic, and a Gold Sweet Chili Sauce that has sweet and sour notes from tamarind juice, fresh ginger, and sugar.
When he’s not on tour with his rock band Art of Dying, Jonny Hetherington is busy making premium ketchups and hot pepper-based sauces that are gluten-free, vegan, and all natural. The company proudly sources local produce for their habanero hot sauce, which comes in three flavours: peach, beet, and pineapple. You can buy them as a trio for trying out during your next taco night.
Keep the Heat Going with Spicy FoodYour favourite hot sauce would pair well with delicious spicy food for the ultimate heat combination. Kula Foods makes a vegan Spicy Chick-Un Stew for fuelling up on chilly evenings. Stir in a bit of hot sauce, and you’ll immediately be warm as you chow down on this stew. Meanwhile, a little hot sauce would be wonderful with the spicy beef patties made by Elbo Jamaican Patties.
And finally, the Indian Pantry sells a range of spice blends, such as the Goan Vindaloo Masala and Garam Masala, for marinating food or for making curries with wonderful heat. Depending on how much you add, your food can either be gently or incredibly spicy.