Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Salsa Connoisseur: Happy Jackal Hell-Fire

Yep, I admit it: I bought this salsa just because it was called "hell-fire". There's a howling jackal who's on fire on the lid (he doesn't look too "happy" to me...), and if the whole message was still lost on you, the burning jackal is sitting at the middle of the sun. So I was prepared for this salsa to be maybe a little on the warm side. I don't mind a salsa that has heat as its main focus as long as it at least pays to lip-service to flavor too.

It's a fresh salsa, so it starts off with a few points in my book. It's also organic, which is cool if you're into that sort of thing.

Texture: pretty excellent. Small bits of peppers and more peppers and garlic in a slightly-thicker-than-water tomato base. A nice, uniform layer sticks to the chip--no gloppy chunks of tomato or onion, but not so thin that it runs off either.

Heat: oh goodness, hot. Not the hottest salsa or hot sauce I've ever had, but it's up there, and it might very well be the hottest fresh salsa I've ever had. Does not relent--starts hot and stays hot even after you've finished your chip. And you'll feel it all throughout your mouth. Plenty of jalapeno and habanero action in there.

Flavor: overwhelmingly garlicky. It has the scent you might expect of a Maggiano's built on the Yucatan. If you try really hard, you can pick out the scent of cilantro (purportedly the second ingredient... right) and cider vinegar. The taste is a brick wall of garlic and capsaisin that desperately needs something else to balance it. In Chinese cooking, garlic and chiles are both yang foods, and we could really use a little balancing yin in the form of more tomato or vinegar.

Available at Berkeley Bowl; a 10-oz tub was $2.89 (29 cents per ounce). Probably available at other California locations; I doubt you're going to find it outside the greater Bay area because it doesn't make sense to ship fresh salsa too far.

Recommended if you're in the mood for a very hot fresh salsa. Stay away if you prefer milder salsas, and don't get anywhere close if you're not a garlic-phile.

Currently listening: "Sherry Fraser", Marcy Playground

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Found in Staff of Life, Santa Cruz.

A pretty decent salsa, and most people would consider it hot. For someone that enjoys really hot foods then it's just going to be spicy, but still very tasty. Worth checking out.