Dictionary

Diablo sauce

Diablo sauce, also known as fra diavolo, is a spicy, tangerine-reddish coloured sauce. The sauce is most often used to flavour pastas or as a dip for seafoods. The term ‘fra diavolo’ is Italian for ‘from the devil’, referring to the sauce’s characteristic spicy kick. From that term alone, you can picture the bright red hues of the sauce and the unfathomable heat it is known for.

Diablo sauce is most typically made with serrano peppers, tomato, and chilli powder. Beside the unquestionable spicy kick of the sauce, it also has a characteristic flavour of smoky tomato that makes it easy to distinguish from other hot sauces. It is this smoky tomato taste that first hits the tastebuds, before the overwhelming heat takes over.

The fiery sauce was popularised when popular Mexican food chain Taco Bell released a limited edition version of the sauce. Despite being a limited run, the sauce proved to be extremely popular. After it was removed from stores, people continued to sell packets of the Taco Bell diablo sauce on eBay. The American fast food chain eventually permanently brought back the sauce due to popular demand.

How do you eat diablo sauce?

Diablo sauce is most often served as an accompaniment to steamed crab legs or lobster tails. However, the sauce also pairs well with other meats and seafoods, and even as a spicy pasta sauce. The sauce is commonly consumed in Mexican and Spanish cuisines, as well as various Central American cuisines. In these regions, the sauce is a popular pairing with main dishes like chicken, pork, beef, fish, or pasta, as well as a dip for canapés.

How do you make diablo sauce?

A Saveur.com recipe for diablo sauce features 1 serrano chili, 1 tbsp dark red chili powder, and 1 can crushed tomato. More flavouring is added to this fiery foundation, with garlic, smoked paprika, onion, and brown sugar. The sauce is thickened with olive oil and butter, and finished with a seasoning of salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Other versions of the sauce include spices such as cinnamon and umami flavouring from soy sauce.

For those who are curious about the popular Taco Bell version of the sauce, this one features a blend of chipotle, aji panca, and chili peppers.