Mouthpiece

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It’s True: My Love For Hot Sauce Is More Than Skin Deep

When I moved to Boston after college in the 90s, it was the first time I really started going out to restaurants and bars and discovered Chris Schlesinger’s awesome place in Cambridge, East Coast Grill. It was unique at the time, when open wood grilling restaurants weren’t on every street corner. The New York Times  raved that it was "bringing the Boston restaurant scene to life."

It wasn’t exactly a “hangout” back when I was at MIT down the block, because it was a little too expensive. But it was definitely an upscale date destination and a great place for beers. Then there was the hot sauce. They had this incredible hot sauce. I try not to use the word ‘addictive' because that’s actually a word with serious meaning, but it’s fair to say that I became addicted to this hot sauce. 

Back then, what were your hot sauce options? Tabasco? Pete’s? Or that El Yucateco Green Habanero Hot Sauce? That’s what you got. The mustard aspect of this one was a cool twist.

I poured it on scrambled eggs. I mixed it into Bloody Marys. I put it on everything. When I moved to New York, it wasn’t easily available and I basically nursed the three bottles of it I brought with me, and that was it. There was no e-commerce, remember, back in 1994, and certainly not FOOD e-commerce!

Later down the road (when the world changed!), any time a new hot sauce came online, pre-Google, pre-Lycos, mind you, I would be online searching for it. But I was not able to get it for about a decade. And then in 2010, I found out Chris Schlesinger was going to be doing a Q&A with The New York Times, and that he was going to be taking questions. He was just going to be giving grilling tips, but I went and asked him about the hot sauce – I decided to ask him for the recipe and he gave it to me right there. Boom!

Q. Why can’t we get Inner Beauty Hot Sauce anymore? It was my favorite! Can you share a home-brew recipe?
A. For the first time in culinary history, I will release the original recipe for your summer grilling pleasure. Remember to warn your guests. It looks a little like mustard. Recipe will keep two to three weeks in the refrigerator.
1 pint Scotch-bonnet peppers, stemmed and chopped, seeds O.K.
1 cup cheap yellow mustard
1 ripe mango chopped
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon curry
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Purée all ingredients in a food processor.
Yield: 3 cups.

Schlesinger said that it was the first time he was revealing the ingredients, but it turns out Serious Eats did an interview with him a few years prior featuring a framed picture of a scribbled, stained recipe for his Inner Beauty Hot Sauce. But it’s a little different – it doesn’t feature the mango in The Times version. It also calls for papaya juice, pineapple juice, molasses, turmeric, allspice and vinegar, which he omitted in 2010. Apparently, he gave them a condensed, simpler recipe. 

Anyway, after this (gulp) 25-year obsession of mine, the sauce is being bottled again and we’re able to finally offer it at Mouth.

The ingredients listed on the bottle are mustard, distilled vinegar, Scotch bonnet peppers, papaya juice, pineapple juice, sugar, orange juice, mango, vegetable oil, honey, molasses, and spices. So it’s much more like the original recipe on the napkin Chris had framed.

My eggs have been forever rescued.

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