The Ingredient That Makes Trader Joe's Spicy Bomba Sauce Unique

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Apparently, Bomba Sauce is the condiment we didn't know we needed. Trader Joe's Rants & Raves explains that this southern Italian hot sauce will not only kick up your Italian eats like pizza, gnocchi, and carbonara sauce, but it's also so versatile that it works on eggs, avocado toast, and an array of marinades and sauces. Trader Joe's Italian Bomba Sauce hits that perfect sweet spot for hot sauces: just the right amount of heat, balanced with complex "funkiness" from fermentation. 

While TJ's version may have topped the list of favorite hot sauces for a number of folks, the retailer didn't invent the sauce. Bomba Sauce hails from southern Italy, the toe of the boot, or the region of Calabria, Food Banjo explains. And like lots of regional foods, it has a wide range of variations, with some recipes calling for artichokes or eggplants. But there's a single ingredient that bomba sauce must contain, and it's the one that's most prominently featured in TJ's Italian Bomba Hot Sauce. What's this magical ingredient?

It's a tiny chile pepper, grown to perfection in Calabria

Calabrian chile peppers pack a lot of heat into their small size, even though Italy isn't particularly known for its spicy cuisine. The Spruce Eats points out that it's the Calabrian climate — plenty of bright sunshine, paired with infrequent rain — that accounts for the heat these chiles achieve. Though Calabrian peppers aren't an unusual variety — falling into the Capsicum annum category — the climate and soil provide the crucible that yields a fiery heat. Specialty Produce puts the Scoville rating for Calabrian chiles at 25,000-40,000, considerably higher than the jalapeño.

The peppers are frequently fermented and made into a chile paste, according to Food Banjo, and Trader Joe's version puts those chiles front and center, with a delightfully vinegary tang making for "a bright, spicy sauce that has so many uses!" 

Bon Appétit features TJ's Bomba Hot Sauce in a spicy Caesar-inspired potato salad, and it would also be the perfect accompaniment to Calabrian-style pizza. Though Trader Joe's doesn't currently list the Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce among their current offerings, they do list it as an ingredient in a couple of recipes. Like many TJ's favorites, it's best to pick up a jar if you're lucky enough to spy it on the shelves, and it's currently available via Amazon.