Review: San Luis Hot Sauce “The Traditional Mexican Flavor”
Ingredients: Water, salt, Acetic acid, Cascabel peppers, Arbol peppers, spices, natural flavors, preservatives (potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate), Ancho peppers, Guar gum, Yellow 5, Red 40, garlic powder.
Where I live here in the Great State of Wisconsin (State Motto: “Providing America with the Latest Trends since Whenever”) there are a handful of authentic Mexican restaurants. And each one has their own house-made specialty sauce that if you don’t know to ask for it, you ain’t never gonna get it. The thing is, they’re all really great sauces that you can never duplicate. Well, San Luis has solved that problem, for me at least.
There is always something about those restaurant-made hot sauces that I could never put my finger on; they almost always have chile de Arbol (as this one does), but there was always something I was missing. Then I read the ingredients list here. The first pepper listed is the Cascabel, an often disregarded chile with a long history in Mexican cuisine. This small, round chile (often mislabeled as Cherry pepper) has a rich, nutty flavor that lends itself well to all traditional Mexican sauces. It’s not too hard to find, but in this day and age of the Mighty Habanero many sauce makers neglect it.
And that’s too bad, because San Luis has made a sauce that not only captures the flavor of the Cascabel, but also exploits it while adding heat with the chile de Arbol. The bottle itself is a basic plastic squeeze, with a top that you have to puncture. I’m not too hip on that since most often you don’t get the cleanest hole and the sauce goes in all different directions. But once it did make it onto my trusty tasting spoon, the strong smell of the peppers gets you. The sauce flows easy, just a bit thick and not runny, and the color is an intense brick red. It looks like they literally took cascabels, de arbols and anchos and ground the living hell out of them (which is probably the case).
The flavor itself is very intense and tight; the focus here is the Cascabel with hotter notes coming from the de Arbol, and a nice roundness from the Ancho. Very, very flavorful with a nice clean finish. So the first thing I tried it one was home-made duck enchiladas. I started the duck by smoking it for awhile, then finishing it off by baking it in its own fat (style confit). This brought out its natural deep, rich flavor, so I was hoping that this sauce would be able to stand up to it. Using corn tortillas, I built the enchiladas, and doused them with this sauce. My wife got some, my 13 year old daughter got some, and my two year old daughter got some. No one complained about the heat, and everybody finished their plates. I enjoyed how this sauce balanced everything together and how it stood up to the heat of being cooked. I also used it on tacos- I think I may have found a favorite taco sauce.
One quick thing before my Five Point Scale: it’s printed at the top of the bottle “Best Before October 07″. The day of my initial tasting was October 7th, and it was still good. So there you go.
My Five Point Scale:
Appearance: 3-Cheap plastic bottle with generic printing was saved by a colorful sauce inside. Get rid of the top and cork it.
Smell: 4-Almost pure chile aroma; earthy, smoky, distant hint of garlic. Like a Mexican grocery store.
Flavor: 4-This is a combination of all of the Mexican sauces I’ve been trying to copy for years. It would be nice to see more makers use the cascabel.
Heat: 1.5 to 2: Low on the scale, but the flavor makes that forgiving. Cooked with the heat increases, but right out of the fridge this is comparable to Grandma’s strawberry sundaes.
Overall: A solid 3-This is not the sauce for the hardened habbie head, but a great intro sauce to newbies that want to experiment. If flavor is what you’re looking for, and you’re not afraid of too many preservatives and “colors”, get your hands on it.
So until next time, keep searching for those sauces, and treat every meal like it was your last!
PanAmerican International, INC.
7903 Mines Road
Laredo TX, 78041
Made by Detersol S.A. DE C.V.