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There’s a good quote from Dune: “He who controls the spice, controls the universe.” After all, there’s nothing like the addition of a little heat. Not all hot sauces are excellent, however, and our favorite stand-bys don’t work for every type of dish. For example, the vinegar-y, chili-based types hit your palate very differently then the more ‘xiang’ (Chinese for fresh or flavorful) type of heat. Here are some of our favorite ways to add some kick to your favorite foods.
A staple in many Chinese households and now a beloved classic all over, Lao Gan Ma spicy chili crisp is delicious on almost anything. (Some people have notably topped it on ice cream and have used it on peanut brittle.) It also makes for the perfect stir-fry sauce and works perfectly slathered on noodles when you’re too lazy to really cook.
If you like sweet and spicy, get this chili pepper-infused wildflower honey, sourced from beekeepers in upstate New York. It’s heavenly drizzled on pizza (trade in your elementary school ranch for some next-level pizza crust dip), chicken wings, cheese, or whatever else you’d like.
Gochujang is that delicious red paste that comes with bimbimbap at Korean restaurants, and it’s so good, there’s no reason not to have a bottle of it in your own kitchen. This is a fermented gochujang that also has classic sriracha flavors, which works well in a bloody mary or on grilled cheese or fried rice.
This hot sauce is “world record killer hot” and is made with the world’s hottest chili pepper, the Bhut Jolokia. Be warned: for those unfamiliar with the ghost pepper, the heat haunts you a bit after consumption.