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Local hot sauces we can’t stop eating

Portland is a pepper-lover’s paradise — we called on Stacy Moritz, owner of Secret Aardvark Trading Co., to hear her perspective on why locals yearn for the burn.

A bottle of Secret Aardvark smoked hot sauce sits on a table top next to a plate of elote.

There are hot sauces out there for every palate, from exploding volcano to cozy embers.

Portland loves hot sauce. The area is home to brands that have earned national acclaim and hidden gems that make outsiders green with envy, not to mention the annual expo. But what’s with this spicy love affair?

Perhaps we take some comfort in knowing that if things ever get too fiery, you can just step outside, look up, and open your mouth for a soothing swig of rain.

You can trace the heat of the city’s initial interest back to 2004 when Secret Aardvark Trading Co. first started popping up at farmers markets. Owner Stacy Moritz partly attributes the local growth in the space to a culinarily creative and well-traveled customer base — but that’s admittedly more of a hunch than anything factual.

“I really find that hot sauce is like a window to the world,” she added.

Asking Stacy to pick a favorite from her company’s sauces understandably was like asking her to pick a favorite child, but she did share several recipes — including a pumpkin curry made with a splash of the smoked reaper sauce.

Of course, she also commended other hot sauces crafted in the region, and it seemed rude not to add a dab or two of our own picks.

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Why do we feel the need to put our pinkies out when pouring this?

Stacy’s picks:

The Funk of 40,000 Years — HAB Sauce
Serrano Ginger Lemongrass — Marshall’s Haute Sauce
Salsa Verde — Hot Mama Salsa

PDXtoday’s picks:

Habango Mild — Saucy Beast
Ol’ Recipe Cayenne Hot Sauce — Miss Delta
Chocolate Habanero Honey — HAB Sauce
Golden Ticket — Heirloom Seedhouse

Did our hot sauce selections make you gasp in agreement or piping mad at the ones we left out? Let us know your go-to by sending us an email.

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