What Caribbean hot sauce belongs in my kitchen?

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Group Chat is In The Know’s advice column, where our editors respond to your questions about dating, friendships, family, social media, wellness, shopping, beauty and beyond. Have a question for the chat? Submit it here, and we’ll do our best to reply.

Dear Group Chat,

I love spicy food and want to start adding some new hot sauces to my pantry. Since it’s Caribbean-American Heritage Month, are there any hot sauces specific to Caribbean countries that I should try?

Pamela Reynoso, who thinks ketchup is spicy, says: As a Dominican, I can honestly say that we don’t really mess with spicy foods, let alone hot sauce! But there are certain types of Dominican dishes that warrant a little bit of hot sauce, like in soups and stews (aka Sancocho and Asopao). But even then, we use pretty mild or fruity hot sauces, that’s why I recommended Pisqueya’s Spice sweet hot sauce, which is made with island-grown passion fruit (Lord knows we love our passion fruit), so it has a sweet kick to it to balance it out and allow for those of us who can’t do spicy to actually enjoy the experience of setting your mouth on fire on purpose.

Pisqueya’s Spice sweet hot sauce, $6.99

Credit: Pisqueya

I must say, though, I took one for the Dominican team and tried Scotch Bonnet hot sauce from Jamaica, and it was NOT BAD. It’s actually the complete opposite of that. I was scared to try it, but I actually enjoyed the firey experience. This hot sauce has literal hot pepper seeds in it, which is intimidating for someone like me, and for a hot minute (pun intended), I was scared for my mouth, but the heat dissipated rather quickly and was left with a peppery aftertaste that was quite pleasant. I added it to a lentil soup and finished the whole thing! I would 10/10 recommend Scotch Bonnet moving forward.

Daniel Menendez, whose Cuban parents never helped him build his spice tolerance: I’ll be the first to tell you that Cubans generally do not experiment with hot sauces. However, being from Miami, Florida, I’ve been exposed to a lot of spicy foods, thanks to my South American and Caribbean friends. The hot sauce I’m going to recommend is Shaquanda’s West Indian Curry. You may have seen this distinct label appear on the popular YouTube show “Hot Ones” from First We Feast, and there’s a reason. This hot sauce brand is the bomb! I use this flavor for mostly rice and jerk chicken, but occasionally I’ll dab it into some soup as well. 

Shaquanda’s West Indian Curry, $10

Credit: Heatonist

Amissa Pitter, who literally puts hot sauce on everything to add a little kick and eats jalapeños as a snack, says: If you love spicy food, you can’t go wrong with throwing some scotch bonnet peppers in your recipe of choice. Grace Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce is one of my favorite hot sauces used as a condiment or flavoring. I’m half Jamaican, and we tend to use scotch bonnet peppers a lot in soups, jerk chicken, rice, etc. The yellow and orange bottle was always in the kitchen cabinet of my Caribbean household, as well as Grace Hot Pepper Sauce.  The sauce pairs well with a Jamaican dish called salt fish pumpkin seasoned rice, but I add it to my quinoa, steamed fish and most definitely veggies. 

Grace Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce, $7.15

Credit: Amazon

Moriba Cummings, who believes hot sauce belongs on anything BUT eggs, says: Growing up in Trinidad from birth to age 18, hot sauce — or pepper sauce as it’s often called in the Caribbean — was a staple condiment, especially in my household. While I grew up with my fam’s famous homemade hot sauce (shoutout to Uncle Greg), there was one that was always on the counter as backup, and it’s become my tried-and-true since moving to New York. The Baron West Indian Hot Sauce literally tastes like home for me. It’s spicy but still flavorful, and everyone I recommend it to becomes obsessed. I honestly buy these three bottles at a time — It’s that good.

Baron West Indian Hot Sauce, $10.12

Credit: Amazon

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