This one goes out to all the spicy food lovers! HEY-OH!!! My people!
Then again, there are those of you that can’t tolerate spicy or simply consider it a painful experience that you’d rather not associate with eating delicious food.
So why, pray tell, are the rest of us slightly addicted and sometimes driven to challenge ourselves to next level spiciness? Well, let’s talk food science! The burning reaction associated with consumption of chili peppers is derived from compounds known as Capsaicinoids (most well known being capsaicin). There aren’t any taste buds associated with these compounds, but rather sensations that hit the tongue and interact with a type of protein located on the nerve cells. This same protein gets turned on by physical heat and will carry messages to the brain signalling that you are being burned, even though there is no real heat present.
The non-spicy camp is still probably wondering why on earth anyone in their right mind would enjoy such a painful bite. Without going too deep into the chemistry (feel free to google to your hearts content), the brain responds to the heat by sending out endorphins which block the nerves ability to transmit pain signals. Additionally the neurotransmitter Dopamine, responsible for pleasure and a sense of reward is released, which can trigger a feeling of euphoria similar to a “runners high”. So you can’t blame the spice camp for wanting to feel the burn!
Besides, hot sauce tastes great. However, not all hot sauces are created equal. You might be that person that carries your favorite brand of hot sauce around in your purse – and we get you! Once you’ve found that chosen bottle that is expertly balanced in flavor, precisely the level of spice you crave and bottled up with a gnarly (sometimes funny or intimidating) name and brand you love – you might carry it with you for life.
Hot sauce is also a serious game. It takes a ton of expertise and even more trial and error to master the proportions. Then you have to navigate all the different types of sauces – cooked, raw or fruit based to name a few. Which of the gazillions of chiles are you going to choose? What kind of acid – cider vinegar, white vinegar, citrus? What about the type of salt and level of saltiness? You get the picture.
Being that I love hot sauce, I have spent much of my life sampling from the cornucopia of fiery bottles that line the isles of our grocery stores. From the big name commercial “Frank’s red hot” or empire that is “Tabasco”, to Ontario success stories such as “Heartbeat” out of Thunder Bay. You can’t help but tip your hat to any one of them. Hot sauce making is competitive and you have to be wildly passionate about making it to undertake production.
One such wildly passionate producer, with an insanely flavorsome line-up of sauces is our very own – Executive Chef Amancio dos Santos! The whole story started back in 2016, when he and wife Sarinya were planning their wedding. Amancio had the idea that homemade hot sauce would be a cool wedding favor. They rolled with it and the debuting sauce (OG Maple Habanero) was the talk of the wedding! The response so overwhelming, that the couple saw the opportunity to start a business and Tropic Thunders Hot Sauce co. was born!
*Love the branding with Chef Amancio and Sarinya on their wedding day!
As special as this first bottle was, so has been the rest of the products to follow. Next came Sweet Tiger Red Chilli sauce, which was made from the byproduct of the original sauce and because of the natural fermentation of the chili mash, it is unlike any other sweet chilli because it has such a great depth of flavor.
Then came the desire to curate a fruit based sauce and one that featured a star ingredient that had not yet been produced in a hot sauce anywhere in the world. Another personal touch which seemingly weaves it’s way through every product he creates, Amancio selected Jackfruit, which is indigeonous to both of the founding couple’s motherlands – Thailand and Goa. The finished sauce named “Fiery Pheonix” has a unique sweetness which pairs well with the heat from Habanero chili. Try it with fried rice and roasted chicken and you can thank me later.
Armed with an arsenal of sauces, Chef set-up shop at the Lesliville farmers market serving breakfast burritos with a “choose your own adventure” of hot sauces. This led to a busy summer of farmer’s markets and festivals across Ontario. Soon he expanded into retail stores such as Hooked on Danforth, Chantecler Boucherie, and The Ellery. He also sells his products through e-commerce and continues adding select vendors throughout the GTA. We are now proudly among this list of retailers!
In 2019, artisanal curry pastes and condiments were added to the line in an effort to preserve his mothers recipes and introduce a new line of products celebrating the subculture of Goan cuisine. This included Massaman curry paste, eggplant hummus topper and chili jam which all have the magic and authenticity that showcase flavors and ingredients passed down through generations. Just like that dish your grandmother used to make that you dream about eating one more time, these products have the same power to leave you with a food memory that’s imprinted deep in your mind.
Fitting we should feature them at Kiss the Cook. Not only because we love our executive chef, but also because we believe Tropic Thunders products are of the highest quality you can find.
So, if you’re stuck at home and you want to dare to “choose your own adventure” of hot sauces, or if you prefer to skip the spice and try the eggplant hummus topper on a cheese toast – taking your brunch game up 1000 notches. Tropic Thunders is the way to go.
Fia Pagnello, CEO
Do you want to order some awesome Tropic Thunders Sauces? contact us now!