Saucy & Sweet
Mangoes are one of the biggest agricultural products from Sinaloa, Mexico. In the U.S., mango consumption peaks in the summertime, which coincides with the peak production of mangoes in the Sinaloa region. America’s massive mango demand makes them one of the most important products in Mexico. Empaque Don Jorge, the packinghouse for El Grupo Crespo and home of Crespo Organic Mangoes, is located in Rosario, also an important habanero production zone. Habaneros were one of the first crops and exports for El Grupo Crespo, originally a chili pepper business started in 1960 for the local market.
Chilies are one of Mexico’s heritage crops and habaneros are the chili of choice in Sinaloa. Brought over for agricultural production from the Yucatan area, habaneros were discovered to grow very well in and around Rosario, producing a good amount of heat (but not as much as in other production zones ), registering between 200,000-300,000 on the Scoville scale, on average and having a specific almost tropical taste. The great yields, coupled with the exquisite flavor profile that resulted from the area, led way to Rosario’s booming habanero industry.
The Sinaloa folks soon discovered what many of us know to be true: “what grows together, goes together,” and thus, the heavy heat and hints of citrus and floral tones in habaneros fell deeply in love with the mango’s succulent and fragrant sweetness. This scrumptious pairing can be found throughout Sinaloa, in everything from ceviche, to chicken dishes and salsas.
Definitely use an Ataulfo (or yellow mango) for this recipe. In addition to the Ataulfo mango being non-fibrous, it has a super buttery consistency, and thus fares better for sauces; when its flesh is blended, it creates a creamy consistency. Despite its beautiful, spicy-tasting notes, the Ataulfo is one of the sweetest mangoes around, and therefore perfect to counterbalance the heat from the habanero.
Ripe to totally ripe is the perfect stage of mango for this recipe. The skin of an Ataulfo wrinkles and turns to a total golden yellow when fully mature. Don’t be afraid of ugly mangoes, the Ataulfo tends to have a lot more skin “ugliness” than the round varieties.
You can use a blender or handheld emulsifier for this recipe; it’s genuinely as easy as throwing a few things together, the hardest part is perhaps charring the habaneros. I typically just put them on a wooden skewer and do it over the burner on my gas stove, but you can also use your BBQ, or roast them with the onions and peppers in the oven.
A lot of hot sauces, in my opinion, have a heavy hand in the vinegar department; I swap out milder champagne vinegar, and supplement with more flavor and substance by adding roasted orange peppers, these counterbalance the heat of the habanero while adding more bulk. I prefer a thicker hot sauce over the vinegary and thin kind.
Play with the recipe and experiment with what you like and don’t like; it’s easy to add more vinegar for the punch and you can also substitute white vinegar. You can thin it out by adding more hot water, as well.
I use it this sauce on absolutely everything. At my house, it’s rare for us not to have a bottle of it in the fridge, and many of my friends can probably claim to have received a bottle as a gift here and there… I haven’t heard any complaints yet!
Mango Habanero Sauce (Sinaloa Hot Sauce)
Makes about 2 cups
1 orange bell pepper, cut in half and deseeded
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
a few tablespoons avocado oil or neutral oil
2 habanero peppers, or 3 if you are bold!
2 ripe Ataulfo or yellow mangoes, peeled and chopped
zest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon smoked paprika (sub regular)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons black pepper
¼ cup Champagne vinegar (sub white vinegar)
¼ cup hot water
2 teaspoons salt, plus a few pinches
Preheat your oven to 450° F. Toss together the bell pepper, yellow onion, garlic, avocado oil and a few pinches of salt in a glass-baking dish. Place in the preheated oven and bake until there is a little char on the onions and the peppers are totally soft (about 30 – 40 minutes). You can add the habaneros to this baked section if you wish to forgo the charring on the stove top, but I find that charring them on the stove gives better flavor.
To char the habaneros, place 2-3 of them on a wooden skewer and hold over the open flame of your stove top (gas burner only) and rotate until totally charred. Remove stem and seeds carefully after the peppers are charred. I typically cut them in half and scrape the seeds and pith out with the back of a knife. Discard stem, seeds and pith.
In a blender combine the pepper mixture, the habanero flesh, mangoes, lime juice, honey and spices. Give the blender a few whirls to chop up the goods. Add the Champagne vinegar and hot water and blend until totally smooth. Add the salt at the end and blend more, about 2-3 minutes until very smooth.
*Wash hands immediately and thoroughly with hot water and lots of soap after handling hot chili peppers, especially habaneros.