According to Ballan, the former Buddakan cook, who also worked as a corporate bank strategist, hot sauces fall into four fundamentals: Chiles, acid, aromatics, and salt.
The most important of the four fundamentals are chiles. What type of chiles do you prefer? According to Ballan, the only way to determine which chiles you prefer is by tasting them. So, you make a trip to the farmers’ market or the grocery store, select a couple of chiles from common serranos and jalapenos to the less common ones and try each one out to determine your preference. When trying out the different types of chiles, you should pay attention to the flavor, and the region where the spice is concentrated—is it spicier at the back of your throat or the tip of your tongue? Once you determine your preference, use them. You can go a little further and smoke or roast your chiles to soften thick skins or experiment with the flavors. This especially works well with green chiles since they usually turn brown when pureed. When you cook chiles, it has the effect of mellowing their heat. If you prefer to experience spiciness in its entirety, you can leave them raw with their seeds and ribs, excluding the hard, bitter stems.
Although you could blend a couple of chiles and call it a sauce, but you should use acid to achieve the best results. Acid is vital for the preservation of ingredients and allows you to draw out flavors from the chiles. This is the second step to creating something that resembles a good pepper sauce. A&B, for instance, uses 5 percent white vinegar, which is quite common for grocery store vinegar and allows them to create the correct PH required for bottling. However, if making a stable shelf sauce is not what you have in mind, and FDA guidelines do not concern you a lot, you can select any of the other kinds of vinegar available to you. Other than vinegar, you can also add citrus juices, but you should never cook these. You can either incorporate them in a raw sauce or towards the end of your preparation to complement the vinegar.
Although some people consider aromatics such as ginger, garlic, onions, and carrots, as optional, they are indispensable to bringing out the A&B flavor in your sauce. Here the key is to cook the aromatics in order to bring out sweetness and texture.
Any sort of cooking cannot be complete without salt. A&B has always used kosher salt since the company started making its unique pepper sauce, but you can choose any salt you prefer.
Although these four fundamentals seem so obvious, it can be quite hard for someone who has never made pepper sauce to think of the process in such an organized manner. There is perhaps a fifth category that Fliman skipped when discussing the four fundamentals, and that is extras. Extras can be anything from spices to oil, but you should tread carefully on this category. If you are not certain about extras, it is best to stick to the four fundamentals outlined by Fliman. The secret behind the success of the A&B American Style pepper sauce is the uniqueness of its flavor and ingredients and the diversity of the sauce.