“How’s it going in Mongolia?” everyone asks with some sarcasm. Here is what I have found out thus far:
1. I found an apartment after being featured on House Hunters International: Ulaanbaatar.
2. I found a way to watch the NFL and college football.
3. I found a sustainable diet.
4. I found out that I’m not an illegal.
5. I found the best places to get [Mongolian] BBQ.
6. I found out there’s no substitute for great hot sauce.
And in honor of point #6, it is only fitting that I put together a list of the world’s best hot sauce, not only a staple of the diet found in point #3 but also the only thing you will consistently find in my fridge that is otherwise empty. Interestingly enough, the list could be limited to North America but I’ll use the word world because it’s got more spunk.
The pairing of hot sauce much like pairing of wine requires a delicate palette, a sharp nose, and keen sensibilities. Far too often people confused hot for fire, playful for pungent, and price for perfection. I am the expert of all things hot sauce (as I am of all things pho) because I can appreciate the subtlety of the above while saving myself from problems later down below.
Having said all that, here is the absolute top 7 hot sauces in all of the world.*
*Los Betos green and red sauces are excluded because they’re only one component of a glorious dining experience.
7. Taco Bell Hot Sauce: Starting off the hot sauce list with Taco Bell at number 7 is controversial for many reasons. First, Taco Bell hot sauce is only good on Taco Bell. So if you are some sort of heretic and do not like Taco Bell you will be turned off from my list from the outset. Next, I specifically designated Taco Bell’s Hot Sauce, not Fire, or Mild as my go to hot sauce. Mild has no flavor and Fire, although I can tolerate all things spicy, gets to be too much when for my usual $15 Taco Bell order.
6. Valentina: Valentina comes in a number 6 not because it’s necessarily better as a hot sauce than Taco Bell’s on a Volcano Burrito (please bring those back) but because of its versatility as a substitute. Here in Mongolia, I have relied on Valentina to add zest to my chicken and broccoli while not breaking the budget on my preferred MacGyver hot sauce, better known as Tabasco.
5. Sriracha: Sriracha edges by Valentina because it has a distinct flavor and the spice that us hot sauce lovers can’t get enough of. Sriracha starts of mildly baiting us to squeeze a little more into our delicious bowl of pho then calls us out for questioning its machismo with that sudden burst of fire.
My issue with Sriracha is that it has needless sugars and isn’t as ambidextrous as others on this list. Don’t get it twisted, the rooster is still a classic and has no substitute.
Imagine, pho with Taco Bell Fire sauce. Gross!
4 Cholula: Oh, Cholula. I love you dearly. Your zip, your zap, your gusto make you unlike any sauce on this list. While you are not caliente like your rivals, you do stimulate my loins like no other women can. Perfect with eggs, imperative for BBQ, and the clear favorite for home made tacos, Cholula will bring you much pleasure throughout the night.
Be careful, she tends to get quite expensive if you are keen on overindulging in her splendor.
3. Louisiana “The Original” Hot Sauce: Wings, wings, wings. “This bar has the best wings!” How many times have you heard that line? I love chicken wings and can eat them until I pass out (as was the case at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ in Brickell, Miami). But, no matter where I go and no matter how many times I hear that same guarantee, there is no better foundation for great wings than Louisiana Hot Sauce. Add your peppers, add your seasoning, just don’t forget to add Louisiana.
The only drawback of great Louisiana is when it is paired with inferior ranch.
1. Frank’s Red Hot:
Why isn’t there a Costco in Mongolia! I need that gigantic gallon of Frank’s now. Even stateside, I never understood why the local grocery store sold those dinky bottles of Frank’s. They would last for maybe breakfast before I was back at the store looking for more.
Frank’s is the king because it goes well with everything:
In need of a starvation diet before the beach? Dip celery stalks in Frank’s.
Egg whites for breakfast not motivating you for a hard day’s work? Frank’s and some pepper will wake you right up.
Cans of tuna making you nauseous? Frank’s and broccoli to the rescue. Seriously, try drowning it in a tub of Frank’s.
Not enough money to season that prime cut of beef? Frank, Frank, Frank.
Did I mention Frank’s with pizza?
So there you have it. The best hot sauces in the world. For all of you living in North America, do me a favor, the next time you reach for water to put out that fire from combining sauces one through seven, put the bottle down and ride out the experience. Remember there are people in the world starving for that flavor.
Put some hot sauce on my burrito baby!