How Secret Aardvark brought serious heat and yumminess to its new Red Scorpion Hot Sauce
In the world of super-hot chili peppers, the Scorpion serves up some serious flavor alongside its blistering heat. That’s good news for fans of Secret Aardvark because the Scorpion just happens to be a terrific pepper for hot sauce.
“We never start a new hot sauce recipe just to make something hot. It’s gotta be delicious,” says Secret Aardvark Chief Stacy Moritz. “Some peppers are all heat and no flavor. That’s a hard pass for us. The perfect hot sauce is one where the ingredients amplify the best characteristics of a super flavorful pepper.”
As an example, she compares jalapeno and serrano peppers. “They look alike, but their flavors are completely different. Take a bite of a jalapeno and it tastes green. Take a bite of a serrano, and it’s fruitier and more complex. You get a depth of heat and flavor. It just has a lot more going on.”
Moritz brought this flavor-forward guiding principle to the development of Secret Aardvark’s new Red Scorpion Fiery Hot Sauce.
“In my line of business, I taste a lot of peppers, and Scorpion I really, really like,” she says. “It’s really hot, but it’s also sweet.”
What it’s like to eat a raw Scorpion pepper
The current Guinness World Book Record-holder Carolina Reaper chili pepper is just a tiny bit hotter than the Scorpion (1.6 million Scoville Heat Units vs. 1-2 million). But when you’re talking mega-hot, your mouth may not register a big difference.
Chomp down a raw Scorpion pepper, and you’ll notice the Scorpion’s delicious, somewhat-floral sweetness first before the heat swells up and sizzles your mouth and sinuses. Next, you’ll get that peppery endorphin rush. And that’s why we’re all here, right? With a super-hot pepper like the Scorpion, that delicious burn will last a long while.
What makes the Scorpion Pepper so hot?
While the capsaicin in chili peppers produces a sizzling sensation when you eat them or get the pepper juice on your skin, the chemicals do not actually create a thermal burn in the body. If you’re cooking with raw Scorpion peppers, you’ll definitely want to wear gloves and eye protection. You’ll also want to make sure you’re cooking in a well-ventilated place because the fumes can irritate your nose, throat, and lungs.
And wash your hands after, so you don’t accidentally touch your sensitive bits with hot-pepper hands! No, no, no!
Cooking with a Scorpion hot sauce, though, sidesteps all that. Instead of chopping up military-grade hot peppers, you can add a squirt or two (or more) of our Red Scorpion Fiery Hot Sauce to your dishes and save yourself some inadvertent pain.
How hot is the Scorpion pepper vs the Habanero?
Habaneros are a spicy pepper, for sure, at 100,000-300,000 SHU. If you’re a fan of Secret Aardvark’s classic Habanero Hot Sauce, you’ll appreciate the sweetness and flavor of the Habanero. You’ll probably also notice that while it packs heat, it’s probably not going to have you reaching for a glass of milk to soothe the burn.
Scorpion has a similar sweetness, but it will definitely kick you in the mouth. It’s about 9-10x hotter than your typical Habanero.
“Our fans have been asking us for a hotter hot sauce, so we created our new Scorpion Hot Sauce to give them something to really cry about. In the best possible way,” Moritz says.
Our evolving quest for fire
“Habanero at one time was the hottest thing going, but a lot of folks these days are chasing hotter and hotter experiences,” she says. “Over time you can build up a heat tolerance, and that’s one reason people are drawn to the Scorpion pepper.”
In response to our changing taste buds, chili pepper breeders have been hard at work over the past dozen or more years, crossing pepper strains to create ever-hotter peppers. Reaper, Scorpion, Ghost, Infiniti, and Naga Viper peppers are each one-time World Record holders since the mid-2000s, the products of selective breeding.
And growing interest in spicy ethnic foods is fueling our desire for increasingly spicy fare. Moritz credits restaurants, and travel, with introducing North American audiences to spicier flavors from around the world, such as Thai, Creole, Mexican, Vietnamese, and Caribbean foods.
Cooking from home during the pandemic also spiked hot sauce sales.
“Adding a little hot sauce to your cooking is a simple way to get a big bump in flavor,” Moritz says. “When you’re cooking at home, people want to re-create flavors they enjoy in their favorite restaurant dishes, and hot sauces allow them to do that.”
Putting delicious tang in Red Scorpion Hot Sauce
The secret in Secret Aardvark’s Red Scorpion Hot Sauce is fermented Scorpion peppers.
“Scorpion peppers are so sweet that it took time to adjust our recipe to show that off,” Mortiz says. “We use fermented Scorpion pepper. Combined with our sweet tomato-carrot-and-onion base, it creates a lot of depth of flavor.”
Its fermented tanginess would be right at home in spicy pickled kimchi. The Scorpion sauce also pairs especially well with Asian and Creole dishes. And its fermented flavor adds depth to cheese dishes–even classics like grilled cheese or mac and cheese.
“We made a potsticker dipping sauce combining Red Scorpion with our Drunken Garlic Black Bean sauce, and it was fantastic,” Moritz says.
Comparing Secret Aardvark’s new sauces: Red Scorpion vs. Reaper Smoked
Red Scorpion is one of three new hot sauces from Secret Aardvark. Smoky Chipotle-Habanero features much-milder smoked chipotle pepper. But between the Smoked Reaper and the Red Scorpion Fiery Hot Sauce, which should you try first?
“They’re both very flavorful, or we wouldn’t have added them to our line,” Moritz says. “The Reaper sauce uses smoked reaper peppers for a smoky-sweet flavor. The Scorpion has a tangy-fermented-sweet flavor. They’re both delicious and pack serious heat; they’re just a bit different, and they might lend themselves to slightly different applications.”
The Scorpion Sauce leans toward Asian dishes, particularly those that feature vinegar or fermented vegetables. The Reaper Smoked Hot Sauce is ready to kick up your Latin-influenced meal.
But your mileage may vary. “If you’re looking to add a little smoke, reach for the Reaper Hot Sauce. The Scorpion’s an excellent choice If you want a tangy-sweet heat.”
Looking for a dish that really shows off the Scorpion pepper? Check out our recipe for Easy Red Scorpion Jambalaya.