Today we’re checking out Tahiti Joe’s Polynesian Hot Sauce. As many of you know, I like to research new upcoming styles in sauces and look back towards their origins to get an understanding. In this case of this sauce, I thought to myself that the only other reference I’d ever heard of for a Polynesian style sauce was from the king of mall food courts, Chick-Fil-A. With this in mind, I went on an internet adventure looking in to all the references I could find for Polynesian style condiments, and as far as the market goes, it’s pretty limited, with the two majors being Chick-Fil-A’s dipping sauce and Tahiti Joe’s hot sauce. Of the remaining ones that I found, there seems to be a pattern of being fairly sweet with some tangy and mildly savory elements, so going in to this, I’ll presume this to be basically the spicy version of that flavor experience. Let’s see what we get.
Looks like we’re expanding the standards of ingredients today, as I’ve never come across a sauce with Tic Gum (and frankly have no idea what it is, but I’m assuming it’s a thickening agent). The addition of Parmesan Cheese in the mix also makes this a bit interesting, because I can’t think of any sauces that weren’t specifically designed for hot wings that include any form of cheese in them. I don’t see a lot of sweet elements in the list, so I have a feeling this is a little outside of the box of what I’ve discovered Polynesian sauces to be like. Here’s what we’ve got: Aged Red Peppers, Vinegar, Worcestershire, Habanero & Jalapeno Peppers, Tomatoe Juice, Diced Tomatoes, Honey, Clam Juice, Fresh Onions, Parmesan Cheese, Fresh Garlic in Water, Carrots, Spices, Tic Gum
This fairly deep red sauce almost looks like it might sub in as a thin salsa in a Tex-Mex joint, with there being a multitude of bits floating about in it. It’s still thin enough to pour smoothly, but the specks of orange, white, green, red, and black having you expecting that this might be a thicker sauce. It’s possibly the first sauce with carrots in it that I can actually see bits of carrots instead of it just being a carrot puree or juice. The aroma definitely gives that tangy, salty and tart aroma that you expect from things like Worcestershire sauce and vinegar, but it’s not too punchy, and sort of has an oddly mellow and sweet sharpness to it, similar to what a true Italian balsamic vinegar would have. There isn’t a noticeable chile aroma to this, but there seems to be a bit of a black pepper bite in it. I’m already in the mindset that I’d stir fry a load of shrimp in this, so let’s see if the flavor portion sticks through with my assumptions.
The initial taste is a slightly salty and tart one with a bit of spice to it. Oddly enough, as I begin to move it around in the mouth, I can tell that I just bit in to a slightly firm piece of that parmesan cheese. As you get through it, it definitely changes on you, and does a moment of sweet when you get a bit of tomato, brings in a lot of savory flavors from the garlic and onion, and as the chili pepper portion sits on the tongue for a moment, then it starts heating up. If there are jalapenos in this, it’s not all that noticeable, as the habanero flavor is more dominant in this. It’s milder if you use it sparingly, but with a good dose of it to get all the variations in flavor, it amps up in the Medium territory. It definitely doesn’t match any of the expectations I got from comparing sauces on the market as to what to expect. Honestly, it sort of has some steak sauce like characteristics to it, but it still has that light and bright portion to it where it isn’t inherently beef oriented, and should be usable on just about anything, be it animal or vegetable. As far as my estimations on cooking shrimp with it, I think that would still apply, and honestly, it has a lot of potential if added as a last shot of flavor to a michelada or bloody mary. I’ll give this a Notable rating, and then promptly go figure out a way to procure some shrimp and bloody mary mix so I can, well you know, “properly evaluate” my predictions.