Thursday, 1 May 2014

Holkum Hot Sauce - with Norwich mustard!

Hot sauce isn't a topic that often leaves my consciousness, and even although I'm technically on holiday this week my hot sauce radar never takes time off.  A couple of days ago while doing the obligatory gift shop part of a trip to the lovely Holkum Hall Estate in Norfolk I spotted some interesting looking hot sauces, accompanied by the info-card you see at the top of this post.

The Holkum range of sauces were developed and made in conjunction with Norfolk Heatwave (based in nearby Holt), and are partially made using ingredients grown on the Holkum Estate.

I bypassed the Jalapeño sauce as I whenever I've bought a predominantly Jalo based sauce in the past I never seem to find the right dish to use it with - while I adore eating the actual peppers (raw or pickled) when 'sauced' they add a certain taste that I struggle to find complimentary to anything other than salsa.  But enough about what I didn't buy, what did I buy?

Holkum Mango and Scotch Bonnet Sweet Chilli Sauce

My first impression on trying this sauce was that it's remarkably similar to one of my all-time favourite sauces, the mouthwateringly tangy 'Certain Death'.  Then the penny dropped!  The reason this Holkum Mango and Scotch Bonnet tasted so familiar is that it's made the same folk who make Certain Death!  Further inspection reveals a very similar list of ingredients for these two sauces.

At first I was a little disappointed to find out that Norfolk Heatwave apparently were playing it safe by re-using an already established recipe, but on trying both sauces next to each other (yes, I actually travel with a bottle of Certain Death!) I was relieved to find out my assumption was baseless.
The Holkum Mango sauces isn't bolstered by Jalokia chillies like Certain Death, neither does it contain the ginger that gives Certain Death it's unique deep punch.  If was being uncharitable I'd say that the Holkum Mango and Scotch Bonnet Sweet Chilli Sauce is 'Certain Death Lite', but if was being realistic I'd say this is a sauce that stands up perfectly well on its own.

It's a cheeky little number, and the only real minor negative point I'd mention is how thin this sauce is.

Holkum Hot Pepper Sauce

I fetched this bottle because I accidentally left my usual 'general purposes' hot sauces at home and wanted the type of sauce that gives tomato-based dishes an extra bit of pep without overpowering 'native' tastes in the dish.  When trialling new sauces I tend to use either cheese and cracker or baked beans as a kind of substrate to the taste, so last night I gave this Holkum Hot Pepper Sauce it's first proper taste on baked beans with jacket potato.

I gave the bottle a good shake and gently tipped some over my beans, and this is where I got a bit annoyed, about a quarter of the bottle sluiced out!  Arg!  I've had to put entire meals in the bin when I've accidentally over-sauced them a few times in the past, and this meal was happening at the end of a very busy day -  I needed this dinner!  Unless I'm putting a hot sauce in as an ingredient in food I do not want it thin!  The application of hot sauce is an art, we choose exactly where we want the sauce and usually expect it to stay where told until consumed.  Having a bottle try and empty itself like a spilled pint does not get us off on the right mood.  Fortunately this Holkum Hot Pepper is bang on the money in terms of giving dishes an inoffensive pep, so the meal was not lost!

This is a good store cupboard sauce, and certainly has a unique twang that I can't quite put my finger on, but it doesn't throughly thrill me, partially because it's just too thin for my tastes.

Holkum Hot Sauces - Conclusion

Good stuff on the whole, if it was a little thicker!  Half the joy of small-scale hot sauce production is that it isn't homegenised, and it does have tons of personality (sometimes from bottle to bottle), so maybe these sauces were just made on a day when things came up thin.  That being said I LOVE what Holkum and Norfolk Heatwave are doing with these sauces, and applaud them loudly.  We need more crossovers like this in the world of hot sauce.

Oh, and both of these sauces have 'Norwich Mustard' in them, which we assume is Colemans!  There are plenty of posts on this blog littered with me saying that I don't tend to like sauces that use mustard to boost the blast factor, but I think I might have to change my mind!

P.S here's the side-by-side ingredients comparison between Certain death (right) and Holkum Mango and Scotch Bonnet Sweet Chilli Sauce (left):

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