Like many people who try to cook deliciously—while minimizing my intake of too much sat fat, sodium, or anything with coconut oil—acid and heat are two of my favorite flavor profiles. What this amounts to is, unsurprisingly, an almost dogged devotion to hot sauce.
Gochujang, neon-green El Yucateca, classic Tabasco, Texas Pete, that weird Fire sauce from Taco Bell (#noshame), I love it all. So, on a recent trip to Trader Joe’s, which we all know is a wonderland for delicious items and ready-meals, I spied a row of small bottles and stopped to inspect them.
Put down whatever it is you’re doing (besides reading this), and get thee to a Trader Joe’s and sweep up all of the Yuzu Hot Sauce that you can find. It’s that good. I’m SERIOUS. Just don’t buy all of it if you happen to live near Birmingham, Alabama. Because I already did or will have by the time you read this.
A little Internet sleuthing taught me that I’m late to the TJ’s Yuzu Hot Sauce game (for those that don’t know, yuzu is a beautifully tart Asian citrus fruit). I don’t care. It’s the spicy, citrusy, kicky, tart, acidic, vinegary wonder ingredient that truly has bowled me over. I haven’t felt this way since I discovered cooking with miso.
To be more precise, there’s heat, yes, but that isn’t the first thing you notice—the first, overwhelming taste is of vinegar and fruit, and an abrupt sweetness. The spice comes along later. It’s subtle but interesting, like a polite dinner guest.
Put it on cold leftover pad Thai, and you’ll wish all pad Thai was cold and leftover. I had a cold the weekend, and I discovered this miracle sauce is delicious doused over chicken soup. Add it to a margarita for a spicy kick, or sprinkle a few drops on top of your avocado toast.
The options are truly endless: Brighten up salad dressings, shake over rice, whirl into mayo for a dipping sauce, or stir into ketchup for a kick. And for the record, this is the perfect hot sauce for oysters—the vinegar tang of an elegant mignonette combined with the heat of a peppery hot sauce will enhance anything from big ‘ol Gulf oysters to the more delicate beauties found in cooler waters.
Have I convinced you yet? (FYI Trader Joe’s isn’t paying me, I just really love this sauce). There’s one more major bonus for the hot sauce-obsessed: the bottle is small. It’s not pocket-sized small, but it’s purse- or backpack-sized small. Which, considering that it pairs well with pretty much any food, you’ll want to have a bottle on hand at all times. I’m keeping one bottle here, hidden away in my desk, and another next to my fridge at home. I’d advise you to do the same.