I’ve mentioned in a previous post how well hops bring out the heat in spicy foods. The next installment of VeganMofo describes an experiment that pushed the limits of heat and hops by using extracted hop oils in an incredibly spicy hot sauce. I couldn’t be happier with the results, but I should warn you – this sauce is *VERY* spicy. I suppose you could cut back on the number of habaneros or use another pepper if you want a less severe tush torching.

The first step in making this recipe has to be done a few days in advance. Using the logic behind extracting oil from the hop plant’s cousin (marijuana), I soaked hops in vodka for about a week before making the sauce. After doing some homework on pot brownie recipes I came up with a ratio of half a gram of hops for every ounce of vodka, which is roughly 3 grams of hops (I used chinook) in 1/3 cup of vodka. Put the hops in an air-tight glass container, pour the vodka over the hops (making sure the hops are completely submerged), close the container and let this sit at room temperature in a dark place [hop + sunlight = skunked] for at least 3 days. Once you are ready to make the sauce, drain the vodka through a strainer and discard the hops.

Hoppy Habanero Inferno Sauce

1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 tablespoon oil (I used reserved aji amarillo frying oil from the mole recipe)
4 medium sized shallots, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
4 habanero peppers, chopped
2 medium sized green tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup “hop vodka”
salt & black pepper
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

I picked my habaneros from my garden and froze a bunch. I don’t have any other evidence to support this, but I found that I didn’t get the normal itchiness and burning in my hands from handling these peppers. I’m guessing here, but it seems like freezing the peppers maybe solidifies the oils that irritate your skin, which makes them easier to work with. Anyway, everything in this recipe goes kind of fast, so, before you get started, be sure to have the shallots, garlic, peppers and tomatoes chopped and ready to go. Also, I used every part of the habanero. If you want to cool it down a bit, remove the seeds from the peppers.

This will create a lot of very spicy tear-gas-like fumes, so it’s best to cook outside. Otherwise, ventilate your kitchen as best you can. Heat a cast iron Dutch oven or deep pan. Add the mustard seeds and toast for a few minutes. When the seeds begin to pop, add the oil, shallots and garlic. Coat the shallots and garlic well and saute for about 10 minutes. Next, add the peppers and saute for a minute or two.

Now, prepare for the pyrotechnics. Add the hop vodka. Depending on what you are cooking on, this may immediately ignite into a huge flame. If not, use a long match stick and ignite the vodka. I tried to take a picture of the flame, but for some reason my camera just couldn’t capture it. Anyway, once the flame has died down, mix in the tomatoes and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Add some salt and pepper to the mixture, then transfer to a blender along with the apple cider vinegar. Blend until very smooth.

This will make enough sauce to last a very long time. To make the rice bowl, over a bed of brown rice (short grain gaba brown – the best!) I added sauted kale (shredded into bite size pieces) and pan fried tofu (something firm and good like SoyBoy, never that disgusting Nasoya garbage). Mix in as much of the sauce that you think you can handle. I used about 3 tablespoons and put the rest in a container in the fridge. Pair the rice bowl with hoppy beer, like Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA.

I feel the experiment was a success. Not only did the hops bring out some intense heat, the aroma of the sauce has a touch of citrusy hop. The flavors of the sauce are amazing, if you can take the heat. I definitely see using this sauce for many recipes in the future.