Jindotgae Hot Sauce Review

Mixing fruity tamarind with fiery, sweet hot peppers is a quality combo — and that’s what’s behind Jindotgae Hot Sauce. This popular Korean sauce brings good flavor to the table, but how well-balanced is the heat? And is it as usable as the brand says, “with any food”? Let’s take Jindotgae for a spin and see what’s inside the bottle.

SUMMARY
Jindotgae Hot Sauce
4.0
$8.90

Jindotgae Hot Sauce mixes sweet, fruity tamarind flavor with a tasty, peppery mix. This one is particularly good with fried foods. It’s a mild sauce that most can enjoy, though in our books the balance would be better if it was a touch spicier.

Heat Level: Mild
Pros:
  • Tamarind adds a nice sweetness
  • Quite usable, especially on breaded fried foods
Cons:
  • Heat is under expectations set from their marketing
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10/17/2021 01:13 am GMT

Flavor

There’s a long list of ingredients in Jindotgae Hot Sauce, so let’s start there: pepper sauce (fermented pepper, salt, acetic acid, xanthan gum, oleoresin paprika), vinegar, jalapeño juice, salt, chili extract, red pepper extract, red pepper, chili powder, hot sauce flavor (Polysorbate 80, oleoresin capsicum, vinegar, lemon oil, spice oleoresins, rosemary oil, red pepper oil), and tamarind gum.

Now to address the strange: “hot sauce flavor”? To quote SNL, “What’s up with that? An oleoresin is simply a mix of essential oils and a resin. Oleoresin capsicum is simply a pepper extract. It’s used in foods, as well as safety tools like pepper spray. So really, hot sauce flavor is just adding a mix of spice flavors and heat to the table here.

But to the overall flavor: On first bite, you get hit with a mild spiciness. The vinegar is slight, but noticeable here too. And then there’s a fruity sweet taste (from that tamarind.) In between it all, that hot sauce flavor and other spices bring in some depth. The paprika and chili powder actually bring a light earthy-sweet smokiness taste to Jindotgae Hot Sauce. It’s a nice (and needed) touch to keep this hot sauce from being a bit flat.

Jindotgae Hot Sauce on a spoon
Jindotgae Hot Sauce on a spoon

Think of Jindotgae as a traditional everyday wings sauce with added sweetness (and a light smokiness) and you’ve about got it. It’s like a version of Frank’s Hot Sauce with a bit more added to the top.

The sodium rings in at 110 mg per teaspoon, which is pretty normal for a red hot sauce like this. It’s much lower than Frank’s RedHot (190 mg), but there are definitely lower sodium options out there.

Heat Balance

There’s a mix of heat sources here, starting with a fermented pepper sauce and including the likes of jalapeño juice, chili pepper extract, chili powder and even that “hot sauce flavor”. It’s a lot of items for a hot sauce that doesn’t really tick beyond mild.

One of Jindotgae Hot Sauce’s marketing photos includes a heat scale that places it at 3,600 Scoville heat units. The brand lists it above Sriracha Sauce but below Tabasco Original Red on that scale. In my opinion, that’s too generous by half.

Fermenting peppers tends to mellow out the heat, and the other ingredients appear to be well diluted in Jindotgae. Really, to me, it’s about the heat of Sriracha (somewhere between 1,000 and 2,500 SHU.) It’s like the heat you get from eating a fresh poblano pepper (1,000 to 1,500 SHU), not the heat you get from a fresh jalapeño (2,500 to 8,000 SHU).

The heat does linger, especially towards the front of your mouth and lips, but it really doesn’t move beyond that. It doesn’t hit the back of your throat. Really, the saltiness here is more the predominant undercurrent in this hot sauce than any sort of spiciness.

Of course, with a milder heat like this, nearly anyone can enjoy Jindotgae Hot Sauce. But, for me, it could be hotter (especially given the expectation in its own marketing), and I think it’d be better balanced if it were.

Usability

Anything made with bread (or breaded) seems like a perfect match with Jindotgae Hot Sauce. With its sweet, salty flavor, it’s great with pizza, pasta, or wings. It’s also good with shrimp (especially fried shrimp.)

I tried Jindotgae in a Bloody Mary, and it was a most worthy addition! Since it’s not vinegar-forward, it enhanced the sweetness and saltiness while adding a hint of heat.

Overall, this is a very usable hot sauce, but consider the sweetness when using it. It may not be as usable as some daily drivers like Sriracha because of it. But you’ll find plenty of ways to experiment with this hot sauce.

Now, I need to bring up the spout, as it’s different than most people (at least Americans) have likely experienced on a hot sauce bottle. It’s a flip-top bottle-top, and the spout found underneath is shaped like a tiny key. I found it makes the sauce a little messy to pour, but it does allow you to get a lot of this hot sauce on the plate.

Collectibility

Let’s talk about the dog on the label. It’s not a random choice. The Korean jindo is South Korea’s national breed, and that’s the where Jindotgae Hot Sauce gets its name. And, of course, the super-happy dog on the logo is a jindo. It’s a simple, but fun logo with cultural meaning. And hey, that jindo looks like he’s as happy as can be, so the sauce inside has to be good, right?

I’m glad the label shows the Jindotgae brand name in both English and Korean. That actually draws the eye just as much as the dog. It gives the bottle a little exotic edge.

The Score

Jindotgae Hot Sauce mixes sweet, fruity tamarind flavor with a tasty, peppery mix. This one is particularly good with fried foods. It’s a mild sauce that most can enjoy, though in our books the balance would be better if it was a touch spicier.

FINAL SCORE4
Overall Flavor4
Heat Balance3.5
Usability4.5
Collectibility4
X-Factor4
Based on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest)

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on October 1, 2021 to include new content. It was originally published on October 1, 2021.
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