Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for cooking with hot sauce

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Hot sauce is the fast-track way to bring savoury complexity and heat into a dish

I was tickled by a recent interview with Wole Soyinka, in which the Nobel laureate revealed that he never travels without his own hot chilli sauce. The interview took place over lunch in the UK, and Soyinka had left his sauce in Russia, where he’d just been, so when his spaghetti vongole arrived, he pulled out a substitute from his pocket: a plump green chilli. “This one I got when I arrived in London,” he explained, “because I forgot my paste in the fridge in Sochi.”

I had a similar experience last year, when a famous chef sat next to me at a party cooked for by another respected member of our profession and attended by many others. When dinner was served, this chef pulled out a nifty case loaded with little bottles of chilli oil and proceeded ceremoniously, and not at all discreetly, to apply different oils to the various components on his plate. “You need to match the right oil to each food,” he boomed. (Luckily, our cook for the night was in the kitchen while this was going on.)

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