Not gonna lie, I love to eat. Meat. Fish. Vegetables. Sushi. Italian. Mexican. You name, I basically eat it. I even tried camel on a recent trip to Morocco. But with every dish I order, I always request a side of hot sauce. For me, no meal is complete unless it has a dash of spice.

But I am picky about my spice. It has to have flavour and not be spicy for the sake of spicy. It needs to have a certain piquancy. A declaration of rich, bold flavours that adds, not subtracts from a meal.

picture courtesy of Nando’s

Over the years I have become an aficionado of sorts, knowing what hot sauces to pair with what dishes. My friends all laugh at me, but they also know to trust my taste buds.

So in honour of National Hot Sauce Day, I give you my top picks.

NANDO’S PERI PERI SAUCE: Hot Sauce

I recently had the opportunity to try the range of hot sauces offered by Nando’s. Having been to their restaurant several times with my daughter, who is also a hot sauce fan, I was thrilled to try a variety of their savory offerings. I fully expected to favour the flavour of the extra hot, but to my surprise I kept coming back to the medium and wanting more of it. True to its name, it is a medium hot sauce that is rich in flavour and doesn’t burn your mouth. It adds, not subtracts, from your dish. Made with South African Bird’s Eye Chilis, this hot sauce is delish. Use it on chicken, of course.

PEPPER BREW GOURMET: Garlic Pepper Sauce

I stumbled upon this hot sauce about 3 years ago at the One of A Kind Show. While I know I can order more online, I like visiting their booth, speaking to the owners and stocking up on this zesty sauce. Using a blend of habanero & scotch bonnet peppers, this hot sauce is infused with garlic and olive oil to give it a full bodied flavour. I like to use it as a marinade for my tofu or for a wallop of flavour on my burger.

50 PESOS: Mama’s Awesome Sauce

Another One of a Kind find, this Burlington-based retailer specializes in Latin-American foods. I simply adore the Mama’s Awesome Sauce. Brimming with flavour, this sauce is rich in cilantro and other fresh produce. A very subtle kick of heat finishes it off, leaving your palate begging for more. I love using it on our Taco Tuesday nights.

WICKED GOURMET: Peanut Satay Sauce

You can add a little wicked fun to your spicy palate with this rich and zesty sauce. Loaded with tastes of panang and heat, its thick texture means it sticks to your food adding that spicy kick you have been waiting for. Use it as a dipping accompaniment to chicken, pork, shrimps, grilled fish or beef.

NANDO’S PERI PERI SAUCE: Garlic Sauce

Yes, I know I am coming back to Nando’s but I would be remiss if I did not add in their Garlic Hot Sauce. This sauce has gusto and I love the garlicy flavour with a hint of heat. I added it to my steak the other night and it was devine.

picture courtesy of Nando’s

I know there are many I am missing, but for me, these are the sauces you will always find in my cupboard or fridge. Go on an adventure and try something new.