Monday, February 15, 2010
Jalapeno Harissa Batch #112: Jalapeno without the hurt
Let's look at the facts: Well, first of all, it needs to be said: my bottle doesn't have the fun heat-o-meter that the picture shows. That being said, the heat-o-meter needs to be checked (where can you get refills of mercury these days?) because this sauce is tasty but tame as a pussycat.
Good Hurts: It's good, but it certainly doesn't hurt. Harissa must have either eaten a different sauce or gotten an insect in her mouth; this sauce is not hot at all. Even the most inexperienced of spice eaters would be hard pressed to detect even the slightest inklings of heat here. Jalapenos may be in it, but the flavor is more pervasive...not so much the spice.
Flavor: When I tasted it, something was interesting that I couldn't put my finger on. The zest of the jalapeno is there, but the garden-fresh flavor of tomato paste covers it up a bit. It wasn't lime juice of salty vinegar, but something seemed indicative of light, aromatic herbs. Then I looked on the bottle and found it: fresh mint and cilantro! This sauce has the taste of a very runny pico de gallo salsa, garden-packed with the powerful zings of mint and cilantro. Very, very tasty...not quite sweet, but a finely-chopped salsa-like hot sauce.
Availability: These sauces are very easy to find in grocery stores nationwide and on the Original Juan's website. Their "Batch #" series of sauces seems popular, tasty, and welcome alternative to the more easy-to-find Louisiana sauces and big-name Mexican picante sauces.
Good for: Because this sauce seems so much like salsa, I think it pairs really well with pretty much any Mexican food you can think of...chips, tacos, and fajitas would go well with this thin, finely ground flavor. The ingredients are already eerily reminiscent of salsa, so why not treat it like one?
Heat: 1/4 Star
My Review: 6.9/10
A member of the salsa family has jumped the tree and landed in the branches of hot sauce, but it will never be a full-blooded sibling; tasty and worth eating, but a far cry from some of the burning beauties Original Juan's is capable of (read: Da' Bomb).