Trini Mike’s Original
For today’s Scovember review I’m digging in to a bottle of Trini Mike’s Original hot sauce. The labeling on this looks like a cross between a Jersey Shore episode and an island vacation, but instead of everyone being a meathead, they’re all chileheads. Literally. There’s no leading theme to the artwork or the name to give me a solid clue as to what to expect here. Having “Trini” in the name leads me to believe there is either a Trinidad Scorpion in the sauce, that this is some sauce style borrowed from the country of Trinidad/Tobago, or that Trini Mike is a long lost family member of Trini Lopez, and somehow smooth 60’s Rock and Jazz will play when I open the bottle.
To my dismay, there are no Trinidad Scorpions in this sauce, and based on the ingredient list, I’m quite sure this is styled more like a sauce from the Trinidad/Tobago area. The mix today is made from Scotch Bonnet Peppers, lime juice, white vinegar, carrots, pimento pepper, onion, mustard, salt, olive oil, shadow beni and garlic. The ingredient that gives away that this will be a Trinidad/Tobago flavor the most is the use of scotch bonnets and “shado beni”, incidentally not spelled correctly on the bottle, which falsely led me to believe there was a small shadow ninja named Beni in every bottle.
If you’re not familiar with Shado Beni, don’t feel bad, it’s nearly never seen in America short of its use in more authentic Vietnamese soup shops. Even to that point, it’s commonly substituted with cilantro to increase profit margin and because frankly it’s flavor is too strong for many Americans. I’ll get out of talking about Viet food now, but next time you’re in the Pho shop, ask for sawtooth cilantro and try it out instead of, or in addition to the regular cilantro. Alright, I digress. At this point I guess all I can hope for is that this tastes good and hold out the hopes that as I open it, it will magically start playing some Trini Lopez as part of the fun of reviewing this.
The sauce is of a medium thickness, just a bit more viscous than a thin paste and has a strong aroma of mustard, citrus and garlic. The sauce hits with a very quick and immediate heat, with strong scotch bonnet, garlic and citrus flavors, and what seems like infinitely unfolding layers of other flavors underneath. The shado beni and turmeric even stick out, regardless that they are one of the most minor ingredients. The carrot component is nearly invisible, as I don’t get any carrot flavor or sweetness from it, and the heat lingers for a decent amount of time, and even though it isn’t the hottest sauce out there, it seems to get your heart rate and endorphin rush levels up higher than the heat level would suggest. I’ll have to go with a Mean rating on this. In the first few samples it’s got the heat, but it trails away easily, but once you have a few teaspoons worth, you can tell it’s obviously more intense.
The flavor is pretty great, especially if you like complex, layered flavor profiles like you might find in curry powders. We’ll be going with a Notable here, and I can see why they won 2nd place for Caribbean Hot Sauce in the 2012 Scovie Awards.
Use on all manners of seafood and white meats (chicken/pork). To be honest, making a 50/50 blend of this with some honey would probably make a really awesome glaze for a ham.