When you tell people you’re getting ready to go on a trip, you inevitably hear someone (or many someones!) say, “Oh, make sure you bring something back for me!” People love to have reminders of their time in a place away from home, and it can be fun to bring a piece of that back for friends and family who can’t come with us. Whether you love or hate souvenir shopping, you can’t help but bring things back from your trip, both tangible and intangible items. In this blog series by Praying Pelican Missions staff, you’ll get a glimpse into the things they bring home from their adventures, both lighthearted and deep.
I love basketball. I remember when I was in high-school the AND 1 Mix Tape was super popular. I used to sit down and watch the “games” which are really more like showcases and cheer for “Da Professor” and my other favorite, “Hot Sauce.” For a sneak into his moves check out the following You Tube Link: Hot Sauce.
His game added some spice, especially his show-boating, to some otherwise “bland” games.
Hot sauce does the same thing to food. Examples…
- Gumbo + hot sauce = awesome.
- Greens cooked with fat back or hammock plus hot sauce = heaven. And yes, I do have Southern Roots.
Hot sauces in the States are of varying quality. You typically have Texas Pete (trash), Louisiana Hot Sauce (marginally better) and now in fad Sriracha (very nice). However, my partiality and subsequently my money goes to Belize, hands down for the best hot sauce around. Here’s a nice little break down for you, the reader. So on your next trip to Belize, belly up to a Sunday afternoon table of rice and beans, stewed chicken, fried plantains, with salad and have a go with the following Hot Sauces:
- Homemade Onion / Pepper Sauce
- Brief Description – This sauce brings to life any dish. It’s a vinegar, pickled veggie, hot sauce tri-fecta and varies from cook to cook, restaurant to restaurant. The best part about onion sauce is the variability, freshness, and that you don’t have to come to Belize to get it.
- Recipe – The recipe is simple. Get an empty glass jar and chop up one onion of your choosing (typically I choose yellow but I am SURE Vidalia would be awesome), about 1 carrot, cilantro, and as many hot peppers you desire. Place in said glass jar, fill approximately half-way up with white vinegar and let sit for an indefinite period of time. Sauce is ready immediately, if desired but is best after 2 – 3 days of sitting and beyond!
- Uses – The best uses for onion / pepper sauce are over rice dishes (rice and beans, stew beans / white rice), as a dipping sauce for panades, on top of pupusas, etc.
- Best Onion Sauce in Belize – Neries on Douglas Jones Blvd. There is nothing like sitting down to a plate of fish fillet, fried plantain with rice and beans and drizzling the pepper sauce over the entire plate. They even put JUNIPER BERRIES in it! Seriously who does that?!? It’s incredible. If you are in Belize and want to treat me to lunch, give me a buzz. I know the lunch spot with the best onion / pepper sauce in Belize. Word of warning – when eating the veggies in the sauce be sure to carefully distinguish carrots from habanero peppers. If not, you may be in for a surprise.
- Dry Ground Pepper – This is a relatively new category for me, just discovering this on the trip south with Burton. Here’s what I know…it’s HOT. I was sitting down at Pastor Pop’s house with the fresh caldo and Burt says “Try this.” It a shaker bottle of dried ground “spices.” What I learned what that it was a shaker bottle of dried, ground “spicey!” Tried it and well it was HOT. Sweats, coughing, and 12 glasses of water later, I was back to normal! Not ready for that yet…but you may be.
- Recipe – The recipe is pretty basic and again can be done at home. Take any number of hot peppers (habanero, jalapeno, ghost chilies, whatever). Dry said peppers, probably in a dehydrator, and then grind them in a spice grinder. Then voila you have hot in a shaker.
- Uses – Honestly I am not sure. Burt travels with it and uses it for EVERYTHING, like a NORMAL person would use salt. But I assume it could be used as part of spice rub on meat. It also could be used as the hot sauce on orange halves if you like sweet, spicy, salty, sour oranges….a real treat at the toll bridge in Northern Belize. Beware! It’s HOT!
- Marie Sharps – Now we are onto the more consumer hot sauces. There are two brands in Belize, each with their own benefits, varieties and uses. Let;s take a look at Marie Sharps. Manufactured in Dangriga Belize, Marie Sharps is THE hot sauce of Belize. If you are visiting Belize and someone says “Please pass the pepper.” 100 times out of 100 they are referring to the bottle of Marie Sharps on the table. There is Marie Sharps and then there is everything else.
- Benefits – Marie Sharps hot sauces have a great balance with heat and richness. It’s not hot for the sake of being hot. It’s hot to add spice and flavor to what could be a bland dish. The other benefit is their combo hot sauces. You want grapefruit / habanero sauce and a carrot / habanero sauce? No problem they make those plus another 5 or 6 varieties.
- Uses – For my money, there is nothing better than the carrot / habanero on some eggs with spinach. Love it! Also can work on rice dishes and to bring up some heat / flavor on meats!
- Best Places to Buy It – If you are in Belize and have the time, I highly recommend the tour at the Marie Sharps tour. You get FREE SAMPLES and the cost is much less than a store. But if you don’t have the time, a quick trip to any grocery store or “shop” will get you want you need. Worst place to buy – airport….but you knew that.
- HOT MAMAS – Sweet Pepper Sauce – This pepper sauce is affectionately called “Hot Candy” in our house. It is the ideal blend of sweet with a spicy after taste. We LOVE it in our house. In fact, we have two bottles of it currently in the fridge. I first discovered this sauce in 2012 leading Mt. Bethel when we went to Hodes Restaurant. I put the sweet pepper sauce on top of my tortilla and it was love at first taste. Here’s what a buyer of this sauce needs to know….when we had our first staff dinner, Nacho Bar, one of our staff, who happens to look a lot like me, put away almost a whole bag of tortilla chips with just this sweet pepper sauce on it.
- Best Uses – really anything. On top of chips, tortilla, garnaches, pupusas, milk or dark chocolate bars, cereal….well maybe not cereal. But you get the picture. If you like sweet and spicy and general AWESOMENESS then the Hot Mama’s Sweet Pepper Sauce is for you.
- Best Place to Buy It – Like Marie Sharps, Hot Mamas is manufactured in Belize. Only Hot Mama’s is from the Cayo District, my favorite place in Belize. If you are here and have the time, I recommend on your way back from Xunantinich, stop by Hot Mamas and do the tour, the tastes, and get a bottle or 12. If you aren’t down for another tour, then stop by Hodes for a BBQ lunch, grab the bottle on the table, try it and if you like it, negotiate with the server. They have been known to sell hot sauces bottles from time to time. Of course you could get it at almost any shop / grocery in Belize.
Looking to spice things up, there you have it. A resident’s guide to the Best of Belize Hot Sauces. Try some but beware….you may like them and then you’re asking me to bring some back! Happy Spicing! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some eggs to make.