There’s a world of hot sauce out there, but there’s nothing quite like the piquant zing of Louisiana-style sauces. Why? Louisiana hot sauces are vinegar-based, so along with a spicy kick, their acidity lends a certain brightness to rich, earthy dishes like gumbo. So if you’re making one of Poppy Tooker’s authentic gumbos, don’t be tempted to use a style of hot sauce that’s not vinegary (such as many Asian types of hot sauce or chile paste). The vinegar in the sauce is an important finishing touch.
Louisiana-style hot sauces get their heat from tabasco or cayenne chiles or both, which are mashed and aged to develop the flavors. Aside from the chiles and vinegar, salt and water are often the only other ingredients. Tabasco brand is probably the most famous (and one of the hottest) of the genre, but there are many others: Frank’s RedHot, Crystal, Texas Pete, and Louisiana Hot Sauce are just a few. Most are widely available in the United States, but if you don’t live stateside, you can easily order these sauces from Amazon.