Posted October 19, 2007 by SteveM in Reviews

Review: MEMPHIS MOJO – A Tale of Two Sauces

Here’s a two-fer review of a green and a red offering by the folks at Bodine Etc. Specialty Foods of Florida.

Before jumping into the review, I feel compelled to rebut the remarks of my Florida-hating friend, Lars. If you take his advice and detach Florida from the U.S. map, someone please tow it to Virginia and park it in my back yard. I love FL !!!

Now, let’s taste some sauce.

Memphis Mojo Sauces

I like the packaging a lot on both of these bottles. They have a wavy pattern over a picture of a singer and a guitar player, presumably from a blues club somewhere in Memphis. The bottles themselves are the size and shape of a hip flask and my only criticism of that shape is that they are prone to tip very easily.

I took one look at these sauces and decided the tasting medium (other than swigging them straight from the bottles) would be a BBQ pork sandwich and some hush puppies.


Ingredients: Jalapeño Peppers, water, onions, carrots, vinegar, salt, xanthan gum and natural spices.

Memphis Mojo Sauces

First Impression: Looking at the Jalapeño sauce, I found it to be the characteristic color and texture, seeds and all. Then I opened the bottle and took a whiff. Not pleasant. It smelled like “wet grass”. You know when you mow the lawn and bag the grass clippings, and then they ferment in there for a few days? That’s the smell that hit me. I don’t know how else to describe it.

Taste: I taste a lot of wine and give several classes a year to help people discover the flavor characteristics of wines. I tell them not to be put off by the nose of a wine. It may not be at all suggestive of the flavors. Accordingly, I tend to be very forgiving of the nose if I am rewarded with great flavors. With this philosophy in mind, I had high hopes for the flavor of HOWLIN’ JALAPENO to make me forget what I just smelled. Not so.

The taste I got was the same as the smell ““ like wet grass. I tried a few more swigs, then put it on a hush puppy, then on my cue. Same smell and taste. The only positive was a pleasant oniony aftertaste which, frankly, came too late. For me, it was not an appetizing experience. It was then that I noticed the sticker affixed to the bottle saying “Winner 2007 Fiery Food Challenge””¦which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that taste is a very personal and subjective thing. After reading the sticker, I ate a bunch more and I just couldn’t like this sauce. I’ve eaten many a green sauce too. This was disappointing.

Heat: Surprisingly, this sauce was on the hot side of the Jalapeño sauces I have tasted ““ a 5+ on the HSB scale, producing a nice shvitz on the sides of the nose.

With trepidation, I began my examination of MEMPHIS MOJO SMOKIN’ HEAT HOT SAUCE.
Let me just get to the punchline. This is one of the most honest, un-messed-with, and delicious presentations of the Habanero in a sauce that I have ever tasted. Among hot sauces containing the Habanero pepper, this is a 10+ on a scale of 10. I’m not just saying this because I just trashed the green sauce. To taste SMOKIN’ HEAT is, in effect, to “be the Habanero”.

Ingredients: Vinegar, smoked Habanero peppers, tomatoes, garlic, salt, xanthan gum and natural spices.

Memphis Mojo Sauces

First Impression: My visual examination revealed a beautiful smoky-red sauce with seeds and flecks of black pepper suspended in the ground Habaneros and tomatoes. Pouring it out on the plate, I noticed that it was slightly thinner than the green sauce. It’s a perfect consistency for pouring all over your cue, which I was eager to do.

First, I took a whiff, and was rewarded with a beautifully-balanced nose of Habanero, smoke, vinegar and garlic. But the distinctive smell of fresh Habaneros was predominant. I was hopeful. I took a swig.

Taste: On first taste, I felt I was being taken on a detour from Memphis to the Carolinas because the vinegar hits your tongue first. That’s OK because you also get nice flavors of Tomato and garlic, before your mouth gets numbed by the peppers. Once the heat blast starts to subside, then comes the wonderful flavor of the smoked Habaneros.

Two things are not present in this sauce, but are not missed ““ salt and sweet. The sauce is noticeably un-salty, which again, lays bare the fresh Habanero flavor that makes this a textbook sauce. That said, I tend to like a little sweetness in my sauce, so I would not hesitate to lay down a bit of my favorite mild, sweet sauce, then splash SMOKIN’ HEAT over that. The Habanero flavor in this sauce is so true, it will shine through anything you might combine with it. Again, all by itself, it is a thing of beauty.

Heat: I give this sauce a 7.5+ on the HSB heat scale. It exhibits all the characteristic methods of punishment that the Habanero was put on this earth to dole out; first, an attack on the entire mouth area ““ lips, tongue, every nook and cranny of the mouth feels it. It’s a sustained burn, lasting 10 minutes or more. Sweat points come alive in a few minutes following your first bite, most notably the eye sockets and back of the skull, followed by a runny nose.

In addition, this sauce delivers the insidious Trojan Horse found in all good Habanero sauces ““ the oils from the pepper collect in your unsuspecting mouth waiting for the right conditions to attack. When you splash Habanero sauce on your cue sandwich, it is pretty much at room temp by the time you bite into it. Once it’s in your mouth, it’s doing its work, but if you then take a bite of something very hot (temperature-wise), like the piping hot BBQ beans I was eating, the oils are released and the sensation is not unlike when you burn your hand on a hot pan, then reach into a hot oven or wash it with hot water. Same effect. Yeeeouch!!!

So ends the tale of two sauces. The green one, despite its “cred”, did not earn my adulation. Then, as if to punish me for picking on his brother, the red one (evil twin) put the hurt on me with his Habanero hammer.

Bodine Etc. Specialty Foods LLC
22151 US-19 North
Clearwater, Fl 33765 USA
Voice. 727-791-9339 or 1-800-796-9339
Fax. 727-791-6019