There’s a high-power pepper mix in Devilfish Kitchen’s Pirate Panic Hot Sauce: ghost, scorpion, habanero, and scotch bonnet peppers. On paper that’s a bunch of bold that could literally send your mouth into a true panic, as the label says. But does the flavor of Pirate Panic – built around tangerine and blood orange purée – match the heat? And how usable is this hot sauce? Let’s see what treasures Pirate Panic Hot Sauce really holds.
Let’s get into the ingredients list first, as there’s a whole heck of a lot here: water, tangerine puree, carrots, blood orange puree, yellow onions, habanero peppers, white wine vinegar, tomato paste, agave nectar, rice vinegar, ghost peppers (bhut jolokia), Trinidad moruga scorpion peppers, ginger, basil, salt, xanthan gum, scotch bonnet pepper powder, ascorbic acid, kaffir lime leaf powder.
There’s a few take-aways from that list. First, the order. There are some extreme heat peppers in Pirate Panic, but they don’t sit near the front of the ingredient list. Meaning: their heat is pretty diluted. Second, there’s a ton of citrus up-top, so expect that to be the driving force in terms of flavor. And it is.
On first bite, that tangerine and blood orange hits your tongue with their citrusy-sweet (but not overly sweet) tang. That tang is enhanced by the white wine and rice vinegars, and throughout there’s a touch of exotic flavor (that rice vinegar and ginger.) Plus, there’s a note of classic garden-freshness here with the inclusion of tomato paste, carrots, onions, and basil.
The fact that you get all that flavor says a lot to where the peppers sit in the overall balance. That’s not saying this is a mild sauce – far from it, think a medium-high to extra-hot heat. But all those big-hitters in the list tend to support, not star in the flavor.
Pirate Panic is also low in sodium, standing at only 5mg per serving. And crazy as the salt addict that I am, I didn’t even notice! There’s so much going on with this sauce that you may not even notice a lack of salt bite. You may find that you won’t need any on the food you use, which is crazy for me to say! This is an excellent sauce for those looking to lower their sodium intake without sacrificing flavor.
Let’s first color how hot the peppers are in Pirate Panic:
- Habanero peppers (100,000 – 350,000 Scoville heat units)
- Scotch bonnet peppers (100,000 – 350,000 SHU)
- Ghost peppers (855,000 – 1,041,427 SHU)
- Trinidad moruga scorpion (1,200,000 – 2,000,000 SHU)
That’s quite a mix of extra-hot and super-hot peppers. Compare those to the jalapeño at 2,500 to 8,000 SHU, and you can see how extreme this hot sauce could be. It’s hot, for sure, but not super-hot. Think of it at max as the spiciness of a lower-end fresh habanero and you’re in the ballpark (maybe a little more, maybe a little less.)
That, to me, is a great heat for the flavor in this sauce. The citrusy-sweet flavors take center-stage, and the heat enhances it. And all of the chili peppers here also have a delicious fruity sweetness, too. They make sense, flavor-wise, to back up a sauce with such a citrus-forward flavor.
As for the eating experience: The heat hits you in the back of your throat on first bite, which is a nice little warning to take it easy and build as you go. Think dashes and not pours. Your tongue warms up after a couple bites, but luckily the bite doesn’t linger too long or too harshly. This is a higher heat sauce that you can keep returning to, if you go slow and steady.
Pirate Panic works with chicken really well. In fact, it’s really delicious as a wing sauce. It provides a tropical feel to any dish you make because of the citrus-forward flavor. I tried it with pulled pork, too, and it really added a nice flavorful bite. It also works as an additive to pasta sauce, enhancing both the spiciness and the tang.
That said, citrus-forward sauces only go so far. They tend to not be as usable as daily-driver sauces like Sriracha as their flavor can take over a dish. Pirate Panic may be a little less affected by this due to it being less sweet than other citrus-based hot sauce, but it’s still a consideration on use.
This bottle spout is about 1/2 inch thick, and, as it’s a medium thickness, Pirate Panic pours out evenly. Just don’t take that as encouragement to douse your plate in this because then you may end up in a pure panic. Go slow and steady with this bad boy and it will reward you with a wonderful ride on the seven seas.
The parchment-colored label, pirate-like font, and sea monster background all play up that Devilfish Pirate Panic name. It’s cool, though a little subtle. Once you pick up the bottle and really look at it, you see how much fun the label is. But from afar, that parchment color tends to take a back seat to other super-collectible hot sauces on the market. It’s sort of sneaky in that way.
Devilish Kitchen’s Pirate Panic Hot Sauce pairs big citrus flavor with a star-studded list of extra/super-hot peppers. The end result is more balanced than you may think and very flavorful!