Posted October 24, 2007 by Nick Lindauer in Reviews

Review: Smokey Capsicum Sauce

Smokey crapsicum sauce

It’s not unusual to find some good hot sauces in the clearance section of large stores – be they supermarkets or household stores like Ross or Marshalls. So when I found this tall bottle on the clearance shelf at the HEB Central Market in Houston, I didn’t think twice about picking it up. $2.99 for a hot sauce is hard to beat, especially in this large of a bottle (375ml). And the decidedly plain label made me chuckle. What kind of name is “Smokey Capsicum Sauce”? I mean, yes, to a chilehead it makes sense, but to the average grocery store shopper – I doubt they’d know what they were looking at. And the ingredients are no help either…

Smokey crapsicum sauce
Smokey Capsicum Sauce

Ingredients: Capsicum (58%), vinegar, tomato paste, sugar, canola oil, natural smoke flavor (1%), salt, chili powder. No artificial flavors, additives or preservatives. Gluten Free.

Okay, so my first impression was not very good – but being that the sauce is from New Zealand, the name and ingredient list make a little more sense. But still – not that much, but with much hesitation, I proceeded on…

Smokey crapsicum sauce
You can’t make this stuff up

So I took the sauce home and decided to give it a whirl the very next day. I opened the bottle and was greeted with one of the most off putting smells. I have never before in my life smelled a sauce this bad – not even when I tried to make my own homemade hot sauce that went rotten. And this sauce wasn’t rotten – it was made to smell that way. How did it smell mind you? Ever smell a house after it’s been burnt to the ground and then rained on for 40 days and nights? Smoke, smoke and more smoke – with a little bit of “wet” smell mixed in. I’m telling you, the smell was so bad that I put the lid back on but it was too late – the smell had permeated the air in the kitchen. There was no going back.

Smokey crapsicum sauce
I think it was trying to warn me…

straight to the tongue, the sauce was not as bad as it smelled. Yes, I could really only taste the smoke (thank god it was only 1%) but there was also a sweet undertone to the sauce, which I presume was the capsicum and sugar. I couldn’t discern the type of pepper used, but given the sweetness and total lack of heat – it had to be a pepper similar to a bell pepper.

smokey crapsicum sauce
Here lies my slice of pizza – gone, but not forgotten

Okay – so it taste like smoke and smells worse – what was a chilehead to do with this sauce? I won’t fail a sauce until it goes through all of the normal procedures, so onto pizza it went. Pizza being the standard go-to food with just about any hot sauce – and mine was no exception. Ordered just the way I like it – Sausage, Jalapeños & Black Olives on a crispy thin crust. Not even close to New York pizza, but it’s still pizza.

However, even pizza couldn’t save this sauce. It killed the flavor of everything it touched with it’s over-powering smoke flavor and smell. With only 1% of “natural smoke flavor”, I’d hate to see what it would taste like with even a little bit more. On the label, the makers recommend trying this sauce on BBQ – but I’m not about to sacrifice any BBQ to this. After I made some funny faces, the Ex decided to give the sauce a try and after a few gags declared that it tasted like “the dregs of the drippings of a BBQ”. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

I don’t remember ever saying this before – but if you buy this sauce, keep it closed. Consider it a “shelf” only sauce and spare your tastebuds.

Wild Appetite Co.
40 Tarndale Grove
North Harbour
Auckland, New Zealand

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog