And…the name says it all. Dat’l Hook Ya is damn right! Don’t let the fact that it’s made with datil peppers, which are akin to habaneros in heat (but sweeter), make you cautious to try this. This sauce is certainly not extra-hot, but it is some of the best sauce you’ll ever have. Let’s breakdown the flavor and heat and see why Dat’l Hook Ya Datil Pepper Sauce actually lives up to its name.
Fun fact: datil peppers are unique to St. Augustine where Dat’l Hook Ya is based, so like any good datil hot sauce, they’re farm-to-bottle right in their own back yard. Though there’s a lot different here than other popular datil hot sauces from the region.
Dat’l Hook Ya touts, “Stop putting ketchup on your food and try some real flavors” and dare I say, you should listen. The ingredient list is long: Water, tomato paste, jalapeño mash, Worcestershire sauce, wine vinegar, chili powder, salt, datil peppers, dehydrated onion, garlic, lemon concentrate, lime concentrate, black pepper, ground mustard, xantham gum, granulated onion, and spices. It also contains fish.
That’s a list that delivers a ton of flavor from the second the sauce first hits your tongue. And where other datil hot sauces lean heavily into ketchup-y sweet (which is tasty in its own right), Dat’l Hook Ya takes a more naturally balanced approach. It’s fresh and tangy, with, above all, a natural earthiness (and only the slightest sweetness) that’s backed with a lot of bold spices.
The use of tomato paste (instead of ketchup) is part of that more natural earthy sweetness. It also lets the natural sweetness of the datil peppers take a larger seat at the taste table. The datil’s natural flavor often gets buried in ketchup-based datil sauces. Here it helps balance the lack of sugar as an ingredient in the sauce. It’s just enough sweetness to keep the fresh tang and earthiness in check.
The Worcestershire Sauce is also a standout in Dat’l Hook Ya. It’s that earthiness again that it leans into. And then there’s that mix of spices and citrus…just yum. They don’t all hit you on first bite, but this sauce sort of evolves as you’re eating it. I was five bites in when I discovered that little hint of lime thrown in there. Simply, it is so subtle in the most glorious way, and it sold me on bulk buying this sauce.
For those concerned with sodium intake – Dat’l Hook Ya has 50mg of sodium per teaspoon serving, or about 2% of the daily allowance. It’s not low-sodium, but it’s also not overall heavy in this area compared to other sauces.
But Dat’l Hook Ya Hot Sauce packs nowhere near that. It’s similar to other datil hot sauces on the market in heat level. Simply: it’s a very eatable spiciness. You can and may want to actually drink this sauce because of the amazing taste. Even with gulping it down, the spiciness will never really challenge you.
This isn’t a mild sauce, but it’s not much more than eating fresh jalapeños – maybe fresh serrano pepper level spiciness (10,000 – 23,000 SHU). And that makes sense since jalapeño mash sits atop the peppers in the ingredient list. Top that with some datils and even with the dilution in the sauce it’ll kick some, but not a ton.
There’s a reason why Dat’l Hook Ya compares itself to ketchup; it’s a great replacement for just that. Where you’d use ketchup, you can certainly use this. French fries, eggs, burgers…you name it. I found it to also be better for BBQ than other datil sauces because of its lack of big sweetness.
And that lack of sweetness also opens up a whole other world with fish. Yes, ketchup-based datil sauces make great cocktail sauce replacements, but their sweetness tends to kill use on other fish. Not Dat’l Hook Ya. That earthiness is so good with all sorts of seafood. It’s bold enough to use with red meats and balanced enough in flavor to pair with most any type of shellfish or fish fillet.
Finally (for usability), this bottle does not come with a stopper. The opening is about 1 ½ inches wide, which is perfect because it pours easily, allowing you to make a lazy river around your food. Like I said, you might want to drink it, so pour away.
The label just looks cool, with a mermaid flowing around an anchor. It ties right into the name – just the right hook (pun intended) – and nods to Dat’l Hook Ya’s roots in just the right way. The packaging feels like there’s history and tradition behind this sauce, but there’s something fun to be found in the bottle. It grabs you among a hot sauce lineup.
The fact that then the sauce walks the talk of the packaging makes it all the better. I am kissing all my other seafood sauces goodbye and saying hello to Dat’l Hook Ya, because they were right, one bite and I WAS HOOKED!
Dat’l Hook Ya – a non-sweet datil sauce – pairs big earthy flavor with bold spices and a very eatable heat. It’s very versatile (you can use it as a ketchup replacement) and it shines with seafood in particular. (HookYa Products)