"I don't want to place too much importance on hot sauce, but I don't think I'm overstepping my bounds when I say hot sauce is to food what salvation is to humanity. Bland people like bland food, and the merit of your character will ultimately be determined by your preference for spicy foods" (Maddox).
Many of you might recall that incredibly astute Maddox quote from its previous use in my Stewroids series, and if you're still reading this, I'm certain you must agree. Tragically, however, circumstances force upon us, be they long car rides during which we'd rather not accidentally crap wet, firey lava out of our asses to punctuate a slight cough, some unfortunate shared meal with parties less desirous of interesting and exciting foods, or just somewhat bland food that needs to be kicked up a notch, and hot sauces are required to ensure that we maintain homeostasis with the fire of a thousand tortured souls residing in our collective belly to drive the engine of progress through the aether.
That's right- LIFE AS WE KNOW IT WOULD STOP PROGRESSING IF SPICY FOODS WERE ELIMINATED, as man's drive to succeed would match the disaster that had befallen his dinner table. Literally the only useful thing the Spanish and Portuguese have ever done is deliver chili peppers from the New World to the world market, and that changed every single cuisine it touched. Imagine Indian food without chili peppers. Hard, right? It's like imagining Szechwan cuisine without chili peppers, and I cannot even conceive of such a thing, yet neither of those cultures' foods resembled what they eat now as a result of the introduction of the chili pepper. Respect the chili pepper... or fail to do so at the imminent peril of your sex life, lifting, and overall life quality.
Think I'm telling tall tales? Researchers have discovered that people who are likely to soak their contacts overnight in Sriracha and douse their Cheerios in Dave's Insanity Sauce are (Bègue, Byrnes):
- six times more inclined to enjoy exploration, adventurous travel and action movies
- are masochists (particularly in woman)
- have higher testosterone levels
- are more aggressive and ballsy
- are filled with scorched-Earth-bringing, giant-ball-sack-creating, world-dominating testosterone
That's right- if you find you dislike your food spicy, you very well might be a big ol' bitch, because testosterone levels seem to correlate with a preference for spicy foods (Bègue). Have no fear, however, because you can raise your testosterone levels by consuming spicy stuff. As such, we should all be dusting our foods with ghost pepper rubs and dripping scorpion pepper sauce into our vodka before slamming a shot (I don't advise doing this while you're already drunk, because it's hard not to make a drop of scorpion pepper sauce into a pour, and that will have you on the floor screaming like Banshee from the X-Men and praying for death when it hits your stomach). If you're like myself and crave different flavors in my palate, you might find that making your own sauces at home makes your refrigerator a hell of a lot more an interesting place, and easily makes you the "best chef I've ever met" for everyone you know because you can produce baller meals stuffed with capsaicin and more savory awesome than a warehouse filled with MSG on the fly. Plus, the better your food tastes, the more you eat, and the more you eat, the more gains you get.
So let's start with a homemade hot sauce/paste that I constantly have in various permutations in my fridge. Sure, you can get spice pastes and sauces from the store, but I cannot stress enough that the short time you spend experimenting with this stuff will yield massive results for yourself (and will blow the minds of anyone you feed it to).
My fridge has a shelf devoted to homemade hot sauces and chimichurri, all stored in mason jars to seal in the awesome.
(Baller Middle Eastern Hot Sauce)
If you combined the best elements of Alien-xenomorph-slobberingly-delectable savory and blowtorch-to-your-asshole scorching spicy, plus enough garlic to turn a goth vampiress inside out from going down on her after eating a hot sauce, you'd have all of the essential elements of the Middle Eastern hot sauce called Shatta. Shatta is basically what you'd get if the single greatest condiment on planet Earth, chimichurri (which I professed my love for here), chained Italian pesto to a radiator and hatebanged it for a month. Their beautiful child, made of congealed semen and anal lubricant (in the best kind of way), is shatta- spicy as hell, oily, and filled with deliciousness the likes of which you've never experienced. Making what already seems almost inconceivably awesome even more boner-inducingly amazing is the fact that shatta fits into pretty much any diet- it fits into keto and anything shy of an early 1980s horsemeat and lettuce competition prep bodybuilding diet with ease. Shatta may just become your new bestest friend.
Now, if you read 100 recipes for Shatta, you'd get 100 variations on the same theme. The recipe I am providing here is the most recent one I've used, but saying it's the best I've ever made is like saying the most recent amazing blowjob was the best amazing blowjob I've ever had. Shatta, like most hot sauces, is pretty hard to screw up. That's not to say it's impossible, but it's pretty hard. The chilies you use are up to your discretion- most people use jalapenos, but I use a combination of serrano, jalapeno, and either scotch bonnet or habenero peppers. If the color of the sauce matters to you, use peppers that correspond- this sauce comes out either green, red, or a weird orange-ish those colors based on the peppers you use. If you follow this recipe exactly, I would add the habaneros in last, one by one, to get the heat you want.
- Whole head of garlic
- 6-10 jalapeno peppers, stem removed
- 1-4 habanero or Scotch Bonnet peppers, stems removed
- 1 cup of fresh parsley
- 1 cup of fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 lime, juiced (not the solids, just the juice)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Aleppo pepper (or use black pepper if you don't feel like getting Aleppo pepper)
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 6 oz of tomato paste
- 1 cup of water
You'll see a lot of different ways to make this, but I'm all for quick and dirty. Thus, throw all of it into the food processor and pulse it until everything is pretty well finely chopped, but not necessarily pureed (unless you want it with the consistency of a spread, which isn't at all bad, frankly. You then just give it a bit of extra stirring to ensure the pepper, cumin, and salt are evenly mixed into the sauce. I usually add another tablespoon of olive oil on top of the sauce in the jar. It mixes in easily with a spoon when you're ready to serve it (which should be done at room temp and not cold out of the fridge) and seems to keep the flavors fresher. Try it both ways and decide which you prefer.
Store this stuff in a mason jar- and in fact store any and all sauces in these jars. They'll keep far longer, they'll taste better, you can shake them to mix them, and no xenoestrogens from plastic will leak into your food that way. If you've forgotten why that matters...
As I received some criticism for posting pics and recipes from other sources, these are all mine from here on in.
(Beef Chili with Red Beans over Rice and Pasta)
If you have any recollection of my investigation of the love of chili in the Ozarks and their apparently concomitant prowess in arm wrestling, it will likely not come as a shock that one of the only folk sports still practiced in Lebanon is arm wrestling, and Lebanon's Fasolia is nearly identical to the chili of the Ozarks. How that happens I have no clue, because it isn't as though the people of the Ozarks are either worldly or amenable to sampling recipes that hail from any country that doesn't love Jesus and Wal-Mart. What I can tell you is I could only find two traditional Lebanese folk sports, and aside from arm wrestling, they appear to have a tradition of putting what appear to be stone kettlebells overhead. Clearly, the Lebanese are people who love spicy food and badassery, which makes them a-ok in my book.
The flavor of fasolia differs from what you're used to in large part due to the lack of chili powder and copious amounts of cumin- they use spice blends that contain a variety of spices that usually include cinnamon, which might sound weird, but cinnamon, chocolate, and coffee are often added to chili to jack up the flavor. In short, it's not going to be so weird you can't get into it, but it is a nice change of pace from the ordinary.
Making fasolia a badass bulking food, and even more similar to Ozark chili, is the fact that they put it over pasta, though the Lebanese add an interesting twist by mixing angel hair pasta with white rice... MOAR CARBZ FOR TO MAKE THE BULK.
- 1 can of red beans
- 1 lb of beef stew chunks (or ground beef)
- 1 can of tomato paste
- Whole head of garlic, minced
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon of Baharat / Shawarma seasoning / or any other of a few related delicious North African and Middle Eastern spice blends. You can get creative here, though I'd likely stick with the first two for your initial foray into this dish.
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1.5 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- Handful of chopped fresh cilantro or 1 teaspoon of dried cilantro
- 1 cup of rice
- 1/4 cup of vermicelli (bird nest or angel hair vermicelli)
- (also pictured but inauthentic, a can of corn- for whatever reason, I love corn in my chili)
- Heat about 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep pot at medium high heat. Once the oil is popping, throw in the finely chopped onion. Reduce the heat to Medium and stir with a wooden spoon constantly for 10 minutes.
- Once the onions are turning pink (this should be around the aforementioned 10 minutes), add in the minced garlic and cilantro and continue stirring.
- Once you have the garlic and cilantro added, throw in either stew meat or ground beef.
- Once you have that added and mixed in with the onion, garlic, and cilantro, add the salt, spice blend, pepper, and cinnamon and keep stirring until the meat is browned.
- Add 3 cups of warm water to the meat and increase the heat to High to bring it to a boil.
- Pour in the beans and tomato paste and turn the heat to Low, then simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While the chili is simmering, lightly fry the vermicelli after chopping it into 1 inch pieces in butter or oil.
- Add the vermicelli to a rice maker with 1 cup of rice and 2 cups of water.
- Serve the chili on top of the rice/vermicelli mix
See? This stuff is easy peasy. There's no excuse for eating bland, boring crap anymore.
I thought the flower would add some class. Don't judge me. I'm a lifter, not a goddamned photographer.
Egyptian Hawashi Meat Pie
While I'm taking liberties with other culture's recipes, I figured it was cool to do so with Egypt as well. Dominant in North Africa and the Middle East for millennia, these lunatics built their global reputation on badassery, and their food reflects it. Though the Hawashi is usually served in a flatbread, I thought it was the perfect meat mix for a meat pie, and meat pies are literally the gods' gift to mankind. They're portable protein bombs so delectable and perfect that physicists will soon prove with quantum mechanics the ultimate perfection of food, and quite literally every badass culture on the planet has eaten them as a matter of course since antiquity. What's more, they dip nicely into sauces like shatta, so even if you under-season one, you end up with a delectable alternative to protein bars.
Hawashi is crazy easy to make, and to make the pie pie aspect easier, I decided to simply use crescent roll dough for the crust. Seriously, this stuff is as easy to make as it is delicious. Behold.
- 2 containers of Pillsbury Crescent Roll dough
- 1 pound 90% or 93% lean ground beef
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- salt to taste (five to ten turns on a salt grinder)
- Pepper to taste (maybe ten turns on a pepper grinder is what I use)
- Minced peppers to taste (you're gonna have to determine this based on your love of spicy stuff. The easy way is to add a couple teaspoons of crushed red pepper).
I'm lazy and I love my food processor, so I start this by throwing the onion and the garlic into the food processor to get them ultra-fine. The degree of chop in these two veggies is entirely up to you- I hate giant chunk of onion, so I puree them until they're practically mush. Figure out what you like, then proceed. I do the same with the chilies, and if you're feeling ultra lazy, you really can just toss them all in the food processor and brown them together- I usually do. One of the mason jars in my fridge, a large one, is filled with pebre, which I explained here and serves nicely in situations calling for this kind of a mix of deliciousness.
- Throw a couple of tablespoons of oil into the pan and bring to Medium-High Heat, then add your onion when the oil starts popping.
- Keep stirring the onion to get it to the pink point mentioned in the recipe above, then add your garlic, cumin, coriander, and minced peppers or crushed red pepper. Mix thoroughly.
- Throw in your meat and brown it, mixing with the other ingredients. As the mixture is about browned, add in the salt and pepper.
- Take off the heat and allow to cool.
- While the meat is cooling, pop open the crescent rolls and put them on a floured surface so you can roll them out. Either roll them out individually to a 1/2 inch thickness or open them all the way and mash the pre-cut seams to close them (the lazy bachelor method). Then cut them with a pizza cutter into 4-6 squares apiece.
- Spoon meat into the center of each square from one sheet, then use a square from the other sheet to cover. Pinch the edges of each pie to hold in the meaty goodness.
- Follow the directions on the crescent roll container to cook the pie shells and let them cool a bit before you bite into them- the juices from the inside will be nuclear hot when you pull them out of the oven.
Seriously, I cannot overstate the awesomeness of meat pies. They're manna from heaven, and they are accompanied by hot sauce (or my beloved chimi) in a way that no other food is. Frankly, you can make all three of these things together and eat them as a two-course meal, because the flavors accompany each other perfectly and they'd give your daily diet a hell of a protein boost.
Now get into the kitchen and CARPE THE GAINZ. Coming up next, I'll either have a new diet article with a kind of ABCDE Diet feel but a badass historical basis, or I'll hit you with some powerbuilding. If you have a preference, hit me up in the comments.
Bègue L, Bricout V, Boudesseul J, Shankland R, Duke AA. Some like it hot: testosterone predicts laboratory eating behavior of spicy food. Physiol Behav. 2015 Feb;139:375-7.
Byrnes NK, Hayes JE. Gender differences in the influence of personality traits on spicy food liking and intake. Food Qual Prefer. 2015 Jun 1; 42: 12–19.