Weak Knees Gochujang Sriracha // Bushwick Kitchen // Brooklyn, NY
You squeeze it on eggs, you mix it with ketchup, you drizzle it on a peanut butter sandwich (trust us) — you know it, you love it, but you’ve never had the Rooster quite like this. Sriracha’s salty sour tang is a match made in umami heaven (puzzle no more over the PB&S hack), which is why it goes so well with funky fermented gochujang, the Korean sauce, staple of every banchan spread. It plays the rich, fermented bass note to the zippy highs of the hot sauce’s vinegary spice. Spoon, splash, and squeeze as you like — or tie on an apron and whip up this steak: marinate a couple pounds in brown sugar, soy, and garlic, sear fast, and serve naked, with a bowl of hot sauce and plenty of cooling toppings like onions, cucumber, radish, and cilantro.
Haitian Pikliz // ThisHaiti // Boston, MA
The spicy Haitian slaw that anchors every island meal, stands sentinel on every beachside countertop, pikliz (yes, we spelled it right) is a Caribbean staple. So when Craic & Blonde’s founder landed in Ireland, the first thing she did was whip up a batch. And then, when her friends quickly depleted it, another. Now it’s a business — and Boston-based — but the sauce is the same: shredded veggies and fiery habaneros, delicious right from the jar or as a salsa or side, paired with an appropriately peppery protein. Try chicken, marinated in scotch bonnets and spice, butterflied and barbecued. Just make sure to let it rest, and keep a well-stocked cooler close at hand to tame the flames.
Mambo Sauce // Capital City Co. // Washington, DC
Think a flag pin and a briefcase mark a DC local? Look closer — it’s the hot sauce stains. Sweet and tangy Mambo Sauce is a staple of Washington take-out joints, but unknown outside the Beltway. Each one has its private recipe, and come last call, bar-emptied hordes crowd counters and pass squeeze bottles, Dems and Reps, Senators and drag queens, united in glistening, lip-smacking glory. The sauce goes with anything — especially as it gets late — but its classic pair is wings. Drizzle a batch with oil and salt, grill, and toss still hot in Mambo Sauce, then pop back on the fire to caramelize. And don’t forget to tuck in your tie before you dig in.