Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Ghost Chili Hot Sauce at Mokomandy

About once a year I travel to the Washington DC area for work. When I travel, it's always difficult to find good restaurants—sorry, let me rephrase that—it's difficult to find special restaurants. I'm talking about places that are unique, and have dishes that are memorable. The kind of dishes you don't forget about the next day. Dishes you dream about long after you've eaten them.

Thanks to a question I asked on one of the message boards on yelp, I found such a place. Mokomandy.

Mokomandy is very much like a gastropub. Gastropubs take typical bar food and kick it up a notch. They turn dishes you've had a thousand times, and transform them into something special by using higher quality ingredients, and preparing them in unique and interesting ways.

Mokomandy is a mashup of Korean, Cajun and American food. Korean and Cajun? Now that's special. They also have an excellent beer selection, and a creative cocktail menu. The food is primarily Korean and Cajun comfort dishes. I enjoyed everything I had there but one thing stood out as extra special. The house made ghost chili hot sauce.

Ghost Chilis or Bhut Jolokia, as they are also known are the hottest chili peppers in the world. Chili peppers are rated on what's called the Scoville scale, which measures a chili's heat. For comparison, jalapeños are rated at between 3 and 8 thousand Scoville units. Ghost Peppers are rated at over 1 MILLION. That's about 200 times hotter than a jalapeño! Yikes.

Phil, the bartender, mentioned the hot sauce in passing to another customer, and immediately my curiosity was peaked. I'd heard about Ghost Peppers, but had never tried a hot sauce made from them. I had ordered the jambalaya. I figured it would be a good dish to mix in some of the hot sauce. Phil saw me ogling the hot sauce bottle and said he usually puts a couple of good dashes into his jambalaya. Perfect, I thought to myself, but if he likes a couple of healthy dashes, how hot can it be?

So here I am, with a steaming hot bowl of jambalaya, and a bottle of hot sauce made with the hottest
chili in the world. I was not sure how to go about it. I wanted to put a drop on my finger to taste it, and gauge how hot it was. But if it was really hot, my palate would be on fire, and I wouldn't be able to taste the jambalaya. So I winged it. I tasted the jambalaya first, and it wasn't spicy in the least. Then I went for it and put in about 4 or 5 tiny drops of the hot sauce.

I stirred it in and took my first bite. Wow. The heat is different from most host sauces. The best way to describe it is smoldering. It's hot for sure, but it stays in the background, and unlike some hot sauces didn't overwhelm the food. It also added a unique flavor to the dish, which surprised me, because I put so little of it in there. I was in love.

Phil told me I could buy a bottle to take home with me if I wanted, I declined, and now I'm kicking myself for that dumb decision. It was truly one of the best hot sauces I've ever had. But now that I know about it, next time I'm in DC, I will go back to Mokomandy and I will be walking out with a bottle of that amazing stuff.


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