Posted August 14, 2005 by John in Reviews

Melinda’s Fire Roasted Habanero and Garlic

Habanero pepper sauces come in many varieties. From the simple, straightforward and classic taste of the pepper itself, to strong flavors melded with many subtle undertones, habaneros are very adaptable.

Melinda’s plays to the side of complexity and boldness with their Fire Roasted Habanero and Garlic offering. On first read the ingredient list had me salivating, listing Roasted Habanero peppers, fresh carrots, roasted garlic, onions, lime juice, vinegar and salt. Carrots are one of my favorite accompaniments to habanero peppers, complementing the flavor while balancing the heat with a mild sweetness without reducing the punch.

On First Taste
I first tried the sauce on my standard test for heat and pure flavor, a plain salted tortilla chip.

The first sensation was a pleasant, strong roasty flavor. Immediately after I felt as though my mouth had been body slammed by a freight train of overpowering garlic and salt. The other flavors were lost, but a smooth, round and pleasant heat finished out the taste.

I immediately check the sodium content, a moderate 45 mg/tsp. That wasn’t the culprit. I wondered if the tortilla chip might be to blame. The sauce is not very hot, particularly for a habanero sauce. It is comparable in heat to Tabasco but fades even more quickly. With that considered, I decided to eliminate the chip and try some directly off my finger.

This time the flavor was much more balanced. Again a full roasty start quickly followed by a dominating garlic rush, but minus the salt subtle undertones of the pepper taste and a light citrus note filtered in. To my dissapointment the carrot was not detectable. That aside, this tasting was much more satisfying. Lesson learned: do not mix with salty food.

This sauce is certainly a different bird. In style it is much more like a typical chipotle sauce than a habanero sauce, but with a very slight bit of extra heat. It seems to me a sauce geared towards people who typically don’t like habanero sauces, or who are looking for a break from the norm.

On Food
I thought hard about what to have it with for dinner. It had to be something plain, without heavy seasoning so that Melinda’s ample flavor could dominate the dish, and without subtle notes since the garlic would drown them out. I elected for a simple fried egg white sandwich on wheat toast, typically a breakfast staple but something that would give the sauce every opportunity to shine.

The sauce on the sandwich was good, mellowing out nicely with the addition of the egg whites and a welcome departure from the norm. Melinda’s Fire Roasted Habanero Garlic sauce has a salsa-like consistency. It’s easily pourable, but holds well to food. There’s not much I dislike more than a sauce that runs out the back of a sandwich too easily, and Melinda’s passed that test nicely. I think it would shine as a topping on tacos, or served as a snack on top of unsalted chips with a slice of a mild vegetable like avocado.

In Conclusion
Melinda’s Fire Roasted Habanero Garlic sauce is a good addition to a sauce collection, especially for those who favor chipotle style sauces. It excels in giving flavor to bland dishes, while I feel it would not complement a strongly flavored dish well. For me, it will be an occasionally used sauce for a change of pace, the go-to option when nothing seems to fit my mood properly. If you do not like garlic, I do not recommend this sauce for you – the garlic should have come before the habanero on the label. Overall, nicely done.

Final Score: 7.6 out of 10