Food

Hot Sauce Heaven

10 uses you never thought of for this bottled spice booster.

We learned the hard way that bottled hot sauce does not make a good contact lens cleaner. It is, however, great to keep in your desk drawer to fire up boring lunchtimes, and the possibilities at home are limitless. Give some of these ideas a try!

1. Spicy melon cocktail. In a blender, purée 4 cups chunked-up, seedless watermelon (buy it already cut up) with 2 tablespoons lime juice and up to 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce. Add 1/4 cup vodka if you please, and serve over ice.

2. Spicy cucumber salad. Peel 2 large cucumbers and a small red onion and slice them into paper-thin rings. Put cukes and onions in a large bowl, add 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon sugar and up to 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce. Stir well and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. Your barbecue chicken won’t know what hit it.

3. Hot burgers. Spice up any hamburger by mixing several splashes of hot pepper sauce with raw, lean ground beef. Want to make it tastier? For every pound of ground beef, add 2 thinly sliced medium scallions, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Form into patties and fire up the grill!

4. Spiked potatoes. For the best oven-roasted potatoes ever, halve 2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes and toss them with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, up to 1 1/2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce and 1 teaspoon salt in a roasting pan. Bake in a preheated 450°F oven until crunchy and brown (about 1 hour), tossing occasionally.

5. Fiery corn on the cob. The stuff of legend. Peel back the husks but don’t remove them. Pull out the hairy silks and discard them. Sprinkle the corn kernels inside with several dashes hot pepper sauce, then fold the husks back in place. Wrap each ear individually in aluminum foil, set right over the heat on the grill, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally.

6. Snapper ceviche. In a large bowl, mix 1 pound skinless snapper fillets (diced), 1 large tomato (chopped), 1 medium green bell pepper (cored, seeded and chopped), 2 medium scallions (thinly sliced), 1 medium garlic clove (minced), 1/3 cup lime juice and up to 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce.  Marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours but no more than 12 hours. Drain off most of the liquid and serve in cocktail or martini glasses with some crunchy toast on the side.

7. Hot glazed salmon. In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar and 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil. Spread half this mixture over a 1-pound salmon fillet. Grill skin-side down over high heat (about 15 minutes) or broil on a baking sheet 4 to 6 inches from the heat source (about 10 minutes) until the fish flakes when pulled with a fork.

8. Spiked brownies. Chocolate and chilies are an amazing combo. Mix 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce with your favorite boxed brownie mix and bake as directed. Serve with fat-free frozen vanilla yogurt for fireworks in a bowl.

9. Hot popcorn. Make hot-air popped corn and sprinkle with salt and a few splashes of hot pepper sauce. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese for a tangier taste.

10. Breakfast blast. Got weekend guests? Send them off in style with a little bottled hot pepper sauce sprinkled on scrambled eggs — or even dabbled over the cream cheese on a toasted bagel half.

Put Out the Fire!

The hot stuff in chilies isn’t water-soluble, so no amount of iced tea or soda will quench the burn. Capsaicin, the chemical that brings on the heat is fat-soluble, so if things get too hot, munch on a buttered piece of bread — or drink a glass of low-fat milk.