I was doing the rounds in the shops the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find that my local Spar has started to stock a selection of hot sauces from Nando’s.
For those of you who don’t know Nando’s are a South African chain of restaurants serving up Portuguese inspired cuisine; in particular they serve a lot of chicken dishes – so much so that in the US they call themselves “Nando’s Chickenland”.
The other distinguishing thing about Nando’s is their use of Peri – Peri / Piri – Piri sauce which takes its name from the key ingredient Peri-Peri Chillies – which translates quite literally as hot hot chillies….mmm chicken and hot sauce.
A number of years back Nando’s decided to cash in on the following they have amassed and started producing their various sauces for retail sale; historically the main range consisted of regular, hot and extra hot versions all with one thing in common: they taste great.
The heat in Nando’s sauces isn’t going to melt your face off but the flavour is to die for – (click here to read Scott Roberts review of the other sauces in the range) and even if you are a hardcore chilli head you will find yourself coming back for more as a result.
So enough waffling let’s get onto the sauce itself….
Water, Vinegar, salt, lemon, African Bird’s eye Chilli (Peri Peri chilli), Onion, Cayenne Pepper, Vegetable Oil, Dehydrated Green Pepper, Paprika, Garlic, Thickner (Modified food starch), Stabilisers (Xanthan Gum, Propylene Glycol Alginate).
On checking out the ingredients list I was pleased to see that Nando’s took the effort of actually listing the type of chillies used – African Bird’s Eye to be precise.
I say this because Peri-Peri isn’t always used as an exact name and can often be used to cover a whole different range of chillies of varying different levels of heat. In this case the African Bird’s Eye should be somewhere in the region of 50 – 70, 000 SHU although there have been instances of some African Bird’s Eyes hitting as high as 175k – Just a little bit of difference there…
The sauce is a nice vibrant red/orange colour with a good smattering of seeds and small flecks of chillies running throughout. I think that the consistency of this sauce is pretty much spot on, it is just thin enough to pour without issue but is thick enough to really coat food well.
The aroma is ok but there are certainly more enticing sauces out there; you can pick out the smell of the chillies and some of the spices but mostly you get the smell of the lemons and vinegar making it a little on the tart side.
I tried this straight up and had slightly mixed feelings about it to be honest. The core Nando’s taste was there and came through quite clearly which was obviously a plus and you could clear pick out the flavour of the chillies as well which was also good.
Unfortunately though the first flavour that you really get is the lemon and the vinegar and whilst a little bit of citrus is really quite nice this was just way too much to take by itself.
Now I realise that very few people eat hot sauce straight out the bottle and as such most mainstream manufacturers haven’t really got their sights set on pleasing us few weirdos that do, as such it was time to add this bad boy to some food and see how things went together.
Seeing as this is a sauce from Nando’s it would be lunacy not to try this with some chicken and so when I was cooking dinner that evening I kept back a little plain grilled chicken and gave it a good smothering of sauce.
The flavours worked perfectly to compliment the food without taking over and that citrus and acidity that had seemed so raw and full on previously now seemed fresh and zingy and really just helped give a nice lift.
Next up I had a little salsa from the local supermarket and decided to try to pep it up with a couple of tablespoons of the extra-extra hot sauce.
Again the sauce handled the job admirably, it added a good bit of zip to what was otherwise a lacklustre mass-produced salsa and imparted just enough heat to give you a bit of warmth without having anyone reaching for the milk.
The level of heat here is pretty good actually; granted it didn’t set my mouth aflame with scorching fury but there was enough of a kick from the chillies to give a bit of warmth that lingered well.
All in all I would recommend Nando’s extra extra hot sauce as being a great choice with chicken and can really see it going well with prawns or maybe some good meaty fish but there is just a slight lack of balance that stops it from really standing out in my eyes.
Heat – 2.5 /5
Taste – 2/5 straight up
4/5 on food