This isn’t a food blog, but I ordered some EJ’s Pepper Mash products recently, and wanted to share my initial impressions with you! If you’re wondering what on earth “pepper mash” is, you’re in good company, so read on and find out!
What Is EJ’s Pepper Mash?
Since I’d never had Pepper Mash before, I’m going to cut a corner here and borrow this description from the EJ’s Pepper Mash website:
Pepper Mash is a blend of finely chopped fresh Jalapeño peppers, garlic and other natural ingredients that creates a chunky, hot and garlicky sauce that can be used while cooking or as a condiment to spice up a dish.
Some Pepper Mash recipes call for fermentation, but EJ’s product is not fermented and is made fresh daily.
EJ’s Pepper Mash currently offers three products (all of which I have, as I bought a ‘combo pack’ and saved a few dollars):
- Original Pepper Mash (Ingredients: Jalapeno Peppers, Olive Oil, Garlic, Vinegar, Bell Pepper, Salt)
- Honey Lime Ginger Sauce (Ingredients: Honey, Jalapeno Pepper, Lime, Olive Oil, Garlic, Vinegar, Bell Pepper, Salt, Ginger)
- Pepper Mash Seasoning (dry) (Ingredients: Jalapeno Pepper, Salt, Red Bell Pepper, Garlic, Citric Acid, Sodium Diacetate, Vegetable Oil, Spice Extract)
Conspicuously absent from the ingredient lists of the two ‘wet’ products are any kinds of artificial preservatives, which is nice. I don’t count vinegar or salt as artificial, and as a bonus they’re part of the flavor of the end product. The wet products have about a 6 month shelf life, and I’m very happy to trade long shelf life for better freshness. The Pepper Mash Seasoning has a 12 month shelf life, which is great.
So What Do They Taste Like?
In a word, delicious. The tagline used by EJ’s Pepper Mash is “add a little for flavor and a lot for heat“, and this is good advice. I’ve tasted all of these straight from the jar (yes, even the dry seasoning!), but I’ve also started experimenting with them as recipe ingredients where the flavor can play a part as part of a more complex dish.
Let’s look at the three products separately.
Original Pepper Mash
Photo Credit: EJ’s Pepper Mash
Straight from the jar, the initial flavor is of jalapenos with a good garlic kick and a little tang from the vinegar. There’s a nice crunch to the texture – a sign of good, fresh ingredients. A few seconds later a gentle warmth builds up in your mouth as the heat of the jalapeno starts to work its magic. These are jalapenos remember, which register in the range of 3,500-8,000 Scoville Heat Units; Habaneros in contrast are in the region of 200,000 Scoville Heat Units. While I wouldn’t recommend underestimating the heat of a jalapeno, for most people used to peppers this will be a relatively mild heat, and nothing that should typically cause your lips to burn or anything like that; rather, you get a wonderful heat and a glow that lets you enjoy the moment for a minutes afterwards.
Mixed in a part of a sauce, the flavor is gentler still – there’s still a pleasant reminder of what you ate, the crunchy texture persists, and the flavor of the garlic and jalapenos becomes the star more than the heat itself. The garlic, incidentally, is surprisingly subtle – it’s clearly there in spades, but it’s not a “blow your head off” scenario. Instead, it plays a supporting role, infusing its flavor throughout, but without overpowering the jalapeno. Today at lunch time I decided to eat some chicken breast pieces left over from last night. I grabbed some mayonnaise, mixed in some Original Pepper Mash and used it as a dip for the chicken. The end result was terrific.
Honey Lime Ginger Sauce
Photo Credit: EJ’s Pepper Mash
Although built from the same base as the Original Pepper Mash, but with lime, ginger and honey added, this is quite a different beast. With the same underlying heat, the dominant flavor here is definitely the lime. The up front flavor is a little reminiscent of lime pickle (an Indian Restaurant staple in the UK), and a slightly sour note suggests that the as with lime pickle, the pith may be included in the product.
The lime then yields to a hint of honey sweetness and some warmth from the ginger. Not quite as crunchy as the Original, this should make a super marinade for grilling, and I’m looking forward to trying it out. If I were to adapt this to my personal preferences – and remember, I’m no Louisiana boy – I’d probably have the honey slightly higher in the flavor profile and the lime backed off a little, but that’s something (as they say) I can fix in ‘post’ with my own additions. However, I can respect this for what it is, and I’m looking forward to cooking with it. I’ll let you know how it goes!
UPDATE (May 2012): I was contacted by EJ’s Pepper Mash shortly after I had written this, because they had discovered a recipe scaling error in the very first batch of Honey Lime Ginger Sauce that was shipped, and that batch including my jar. The error was – can you guess – that insufficient honey had been added to the mix… They have since replaced my jar of Honey Lime Ginger Pepper Mash (free of course!), and I can confirm that with the correct proportions of the ingredients, the flavor is balanced far more to my liking. The honey and lime now share the key note more evenly, and the pithiness of the lime is subdued by the sweetness of the honey. Glad to know I wasn’t completely losing it, and EJ’s Pepper Mash assure me that the error has been corrected and shouldn’t occur again. I hope so, because with the recipe corrected, the flavor balance is significantly improved and it’s a much more immediately usable sauce.
Pepper Mash Seasoning
Photo Credit: EJ’s Pepper Mash
Unlike the Original and the Honey Lime Ginger, the seasoning is dry. There are two primary sizes of dried pieces in the jar, so shaking the jar up is helpful to make sure you get some of both. Again created from the same base ingredients, the seasoning has the same heat kick as the Original. However, there’s an additional sweetness, and some additional spices that give it a very attractive flavor indeed. There’s some heat, some sweet and a hint of citrus, on a foundation of the jalapeno flavor. I was quite happily sampling it repeatedly, despite the fact that it’s a dry seasoning. I can see this one sitting next to the stove as a regular ingredient in my cooking.
The Story So Far
It’s early days for me and the Pepper Mash – I’ve got a lot of cooking to do before I’ve found the ways it works best for me, but I know that the flavors are good so it’s going to fun experimenting. Helpfully, the EJ’s Pepper Mash website provides a number of recipes and suggestions to get you going, and I’m planning to work through some of those. I’ll try and report back on my favorites.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting here typing this probably 15 minutes since I lasted sampled the products, and I’m still enjoying the very faint taste and warmth of the jalapenos. Bliss.
If you like hot stuff, I think there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy EJ’s Pepper Mash. I’ve not seen anything on the supermarket shelves quite like it, and with uniqueness comes the opportunity to wow your family and neighbors with something they haven’t tasted before. Personally, the Original Pepper Mash is my favorite, then the Pepper Mash Seasoning, then the Honey Lime Ginger Sauce.
If you’re interested, you can go to http://www.ejspeppermash.com/, have a nose around, and give it a try. As I said, I got the combo pack so I could try out all three, and I’m pleased with them all so far.
Jappy Jalapeno Eating!
The Director of R&D at EJ’s Pepper Mash is a friend of mine (which is how I heard about the product launch). However, I bought the product from their website with my own money because I liked the sound of it, and EJ’s Pepper Mash did not solicit any kind of review from me. In other words, I don’t gain from this – I just wanted to share information about an interesting product that I hadn’t tried before. And trust me, if it sucked, I wouldn’t be posting about it at all…