Editor's note: Spicy thrill-seekers have been getting their fix from Chile Pepper magazine for more than 20 years. Editors Gretchen VanEsselstyn and Andrea Lynn, plus a team of intrepid tasters, testers, writers, and photographers, put together the bimonthly print magazine, temporarily paralyzing their taste buds by working through the newest hot sauces, salsas, and more. And now you'll reap the benefits, as they'll be sharing thoughts and observations from the fiery food world with Serious Eats readers. Check out their posts for the hottest products, recipes, events, and news around.
If you live the zesty life, and you're in the Dallas–Fort Worth area, check out ZestFest 2008, Chile Pepper's red-hot food show, taking place September 5 to 7 at the Will Rogers Center in Fort Worth. For more info, visit zestfest2008.com.
Salsa Scoop: Tasting Notes
In every issue, we taste between 15 and 25 salsas that highlight a particular category of jarred salsa. Tastings are all done blind, so we're not influenced by packaging or brand knowledge. We stock up on water, chips and sour cream, and gather 'round the conference table to put the jars to the test. Only a few survive, and we bring you the best of the bunch.
The Theme: Chile-Specific Salsa
Sometimes you want a salsa that highlights the essence of a chile in all its glory. These favorites focus on robust chile-infused flavor from piquant deárbol to smoky pasilla to fiery bhut jolokia. After the jump, our notes.
Herdez Salsa Chile de Árbol
A rich chocolate color, this silky salsa is intense, tart and salty. With a citrusy tang and a budding heat, this salsa is great over cooked meat or enchiladas. hormelfoods.com; 800-523-4635
Rosa Mexicano Chile Pasilla de Oaxaca Salsa
Smoky, spicy, sweet and full-flavored, this salsa can be eaten straight from the jar. The pasilla chile is blended into a velvety smoothness with roasted garlic playing a subtle role. Bump up the flavor of grilled meat by using this blend as a marinade. rosamexicano.info; 212-397-0666
CaJohns Salsa 10 Jolokia
This chunky salsa begins with a touch of sweetness before your mouth is set ablaze in a long, slow burn. You've been warned; now go experience the delightful, addictive pain for yourself. Tortilla chips are optional, but we'd recommend having a glass of milk handy. cajohns.com; 614-418-0808
Sabores Aztecas Salsa de Chile de Árbol
If puckering tartness is what you're after, this salsa fits the order. With a delightful brown hue dotted with red specks and chile seeds, a slow, sneaky heat builds from the de árbol peppers. Add to a pot of chile or casserole. mexgrocer.com; 877-463-9476
Check out our favorite chile-specific salsa recipe, Pasilla Raisin Salsa, in the Recipes section of Serious Eats.