Back in 2006 the Dorset Naga was declared the world’s hottest chilli. Weighing-in at a tongue-torching 1.5 million Scoville Units – the internationally recognised litmus test for chilli heat – it blasted the competition out of the arena.
Sadly, it can no longer claim that scorching accolade as chilli science has evolved. Super-charged chillies from the USA and South East Asia – with names like “scorpion”, “reaper” and “ghost pepper” – have beaten this sizzling Dorset contender into the corner.
To be honest, who wants to eat a liquid-magma hot chilli anyway? Not me. And not Weymouth 51 – the artisan Dorset chilli sauce company who are handcrafting white-hot magic from their Weymouth kitchen.
Describing themselves as “a grown-up approach to the wonderful, colourful, exciting and delicious world of chillies”, Weymouth 51 focus on mature things like taste, flavour and complexity in their sauces, not numb tongues. Well that’s what they told me when I swung by one of their tasting events outside the Brace of Butchers in Poundbury. It was the late summer bank holiday weekend, my family love chillies - the hotter the better, so I thought this would be a nice family outing.
However, 30 spoonfuls into my stroll along chilli avenue I confess that even this heat loving chilli fiend was beginning to buckle. As my 15-year-old sister held my hand for moral support, mum was dispatched to buy a litre of milk to cool my throbbing tastebuds. I had finally met my match – and I absolutely loved it!
David and Mikka Tamlyn, the husband and wife team behind Weymouth 51, are lifelong chilli radicals, and I so want to be in their gang. David is a former chef who’d trained under the tutelage of Marco Pierre White and went on to work at Michelin-starred London restaurants such as Pied à Terre, The Square, and renowned Hong Kong eatery The Drunken Pawn. “When I was young, I travelled in Asia, South America and Mexico – to the heartlands of spice – all places that inspired our sauces,” says David, who is keen to point out that it’s his wife, Mikka, who’s the true fire beneath this exciting new business. “I just want to make it all hot,” he laughs. “But Mikka really understands the complexities of each and every chilli, she has the final say on any of our chilli sauces – she is the expert.”
Mikka grew up Hong Kong, which is where the couple met. Her heritage is why Weymouth 51 not only do over 30 flavours of sauce ranging from mild to super scorchio, but also kimchi – a salted and fermented vegetable dish that is a staple in Korean cuisine – and a new product called Moo Glaze – a Korean barbecue sauce made from Korean gochugaru chillies specially brought over by an old school friend. “We only use quality ingredients,” says Mikka. But this business is so much more than careful sourcing and an impeccable education in chillies.
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