by Matthew Kadey, MS, RD
As the mercury begins to dip, you can keep things sultry in the kitchen by embracing the burgeoning number of hot sauces now available. Once only common in their respective countries, today you can find spicy condiments from around the globe to put on the shelf next to your Tabasco. All instantly pep up nearly any meal-often for virtually no calories-and their fiery kick hails from capsaicin, a phytochemical that may quell appetite and rev up calorie-burning metabolism.
With flavors ranging from tangy to smoky to volcano, there's something to match every heat tolerance and dish. Start with these three recipes to add flare to your cooking and heat up even the coldest nights. (Prefer things mild? Reduce the amount of sauce called for in these recipes, as all add taste, not just burn.)
If you can't find a hot sauce in your supermarket, look online.Smoky pork lentil stew1. Cholula:
Not as blazing as other hot sauces, cholula is a blend of arbol and piquin chili peppers. It's available in most supermarkets (and on the tables of many restaurants) and comes in several flavors such as smoky chipotle or chili lime.
Smoky Pork Lentil Stew
2 teaspoons canola or olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 pound pork tenderloin, sliced into 1-inch cubes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 cup dried green lentils
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon chipotle-flavored cholula hot sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (for garnish)
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add pork and garlic; stir until pork is browned, about 5 minutes.
Add chicken stock, tomatoes, lentils, sweet potato, tomato paste, hot sauce, mustard, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until lentils and sweet potato are tender. Stir in thyme and heat 2 minutes. Divide among serving bowls and garnish with cilantro.
Also great for: Fried eggs, burritos, and Bloody Marys.
Salmon loaf2. Harissa:
Region: North Africa
Popular in countries such as Tunisia, harissa is most often ground bird's eye chili peppers combined with olive oil, cumin, coriander, caraway seeds, and garlic. The result is an earthy and potent sauce with a dark red grainy texture. Look for tubes in shops specializing in African fare.
Harissa Salmon Loaf
3 (6-ounce) cans pink or sockeye salmon, drained
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup rolled or quick-cook oats
1 large carrot, grated
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 to 2 tablespoons harissa paste (depending on heat tolerance)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, flake salmon with a fork and stir in remaining ingredients. Place mixture in a 9-by-5-inch greased loaf pan and spread until mixture is of even height in the pan. Bake for 40 minutes, or until loaf is set in the center. Let cool several minutes before unmolding.
Also great for: Stews, grilled beef, couscous, steamed vegetables, and mixed with low-fat mayo for a sandwich spread.
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Fiery sweet and sour with umami flavor, this thick paste is traditionally made from red pepper powder, glutinous rice powder, fermented soybeans, and salt. Find tubs of gochujang in Korean markets.
Kale Slaw with Gochjuang Dressing
1 bunch kale (about 1 pound)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral-tasting oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon gochjuang paste
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts (for garnish)
Slice center rib out of kale leaves. Roll a stack of leaves and slice into fine ribbons. Toss all sliced kale with carrot and bell pepper in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together oils, gochjuang paste, rice wine vinegar , soy sauce, honey, and garlic. Drizzle over slaw and toss well. Serve garnished with peanuts.
Also great for: Soups and stews, marinades, and pork stir-fries.
Ready to turn up the heat? Check out more spicy recipes using hot sauce here!