I started using hot sauce in middle school. One of the eighth-graders, let’s call him Kyle because that is his name, used A LOT of hot sauce on everything. He had a little brother, who’d always still his food. So, Kyle trained himself to be used to hot sauce, and would pour it over everything he ate. Essentially he used hot sauce like a brother-pesticide.
I remember thinking this was not only hilarious, but the dedication was impressive. I realized that I had never actually used the spicy stuff, and so with Kyle in mind, I convinced my mom to get me a bottle of Sriracha at the store. I hated it. Well, to be fair, I hated the three tablespoons of it that I slathered my Mac n cheese with. Hot sauce, as I learned, was hot.
Think of your favorite seasoning or topping. Maybe you love lemon-pepper on steak, or spring onions on your mashed potatoes. Now imagine a cup and a half of lemon-pepper on you steak, or 50 chopped spring onions on your mashed potatoes. It would be egregious! Hot sauce is just concentrated seasoning! If you don’t like your food to be spicy, then use less hot sauce. It can still add complexity to the flavors.
The next time you make spaghetti, mix a half teaspoon of hot sauce in with your tomato sauce. You won’t taste the heat, but you will get notes of flavors that you wouldn’t get otherwise. Or, if you’re making a stir-fry, try this. Cut a mild pepper (something like a poblano or jalapeño) in half and de-seed with a spoon. Rough chop into a few pieces and fry up with your other veggies. That’s it! You don’t have to eat the pepper, in fact you can pick them out when it’s finished cooking. The flavors will still be there. Try it out! And check out other great ingredients to stock up on in my list post!