ITK Taste Test: We tried each other’s favorite Caribbean hot sauces — here’s how it went

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Hot sauce — or pepper sauce as it’s more usually called in the region — is the prime go-to condiment in most Caribbean islands. From predominantly Afro and Indo-Caribbean countries like Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica to Caribbean countries with large Latin populations like Puerto Rico and Cuba, it’s pretty prevalent. However, the spice index varies depending on where you go.

To test this theory, we’ve enlisted four In The Know team members, each with Caribbean roots, to try each other’s favorite hot sauces from their respective home countries.

For a bit of context, here’s a bit about each team member’s background:

  • Danny Menendez is Cuban American and admittedly isn’t a huge fan of spicy food.
  • Pam Reynoso is Dominican American and isn’t a frequent hot sauce user as it’s not often incorporated into Dominican cuisine. Her wife, however, who’s of Puerto Rican descent, put her on to one of her faves.
  • Moriba Cummings is Trinidadian American and, having spent his entire childhood in Trinidad, now uses hot sauce with almost every meal (except breakfast).
  • Amissa Pitter is Jamaican American and has a high tolerance for spice as it’s often used in Jamaican cuisine.

Learn a bit more about each participant’s thoughts of their peers’ hot sauces below.

Shaquanda’s West Indian Curry Hot Pepper Sauce, $18.95

Credit: Amazon

Recommended by: Danny

Tried by: Moriba

Shadquana’s West Indian Curry Hot Pepper Sauce was created by a Brooklyn-based drag queen with Bajan (Barbadian) roots. Danny loves this stuff, but this is Moriba’s first time tasting it. Does it live up to its name?

Moriba’s spice-level verdict: 6/10

“This is pretty spicy, but it’s also really flavorful, which I think is a big proponent to Caribbean hot sauces. It’s not just straight heat … It doesn’t just taste like my mouth’s on fire.”

Pisqueya Spicy Sweet Hot Sauce, $6.99

Credit: Pisqueya

Recommended by: Pam

Tried by: Amissa

Pam doesn’t frequently eat spicy foods, so that Pisqueya Spicy Sweet Hot Sauce is right up her alley. The sauce strikes the perfect balance between spicy and flavorful. Amissa, who loves spicy food, agreed that it’s super-flavorful but doesn’t have an aggressive kick, making it perfect for those with a low spice tolerance.

Amissa’s spice-level verdict: 6/10

“You’re really tasting the passion fruit first, and then you get the kick. This is really good. It kind of reminds me of — like a dip. I would even dip some chips in this. You know how they give it ‘peppers’? I’d give it three peppers.”

Baron West Indian Hot Sauce, $10.12

Credit: Amazon

Recommended by: Moriba

Tried by: Danny

The Baron West Indian Hot Sauce is a staple in the twin islands of Trinidad & Tobago. There was always a bottle on the kitchen table at Moriba’s family home growing up. Danny, who isn’t a hot sauce lover, felt, though flavorful, it was a bit too spicy for him.

Danny’s spice-level verdict: 8/10

“Whoo! OK. The heat is pretty intense at first! But, after a while, it settles in, and you can actually taste the flavors. It’s got like a nice, citrus-mustardy flavor to it. A little too spicy for me, but if you like that kind of level, [I] definitely recommend it.”

Grace Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce, $7.10

Credit: Amazon

Recommended by: Amissa

Tried by: Pam

The proof’s in the name. The Grace Jamaican Scotch Bonnet Pepper Sauce is a must-have in any Jamaican home — and this one packs the heat. Amissa, who’s used this pepper sauce for years, loves it, but Pam says, if major spice isn’t your taste, this may be a bit overwhelming.

Pam’s spice-level verdict: 7/10

“I love how it smells; I just don’t like what it does to your mouth [laughs]. It just hits your mouth, and as soon as it hits your mouth, it’s just fire. It’s not bad. I can tolerate this. I could do this.”

Check out each team member’s reaction and full comments in the video at the top of the page.

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