Try Spiking Ketchup With Tabasco Sauce To Build Up Your Spice Tolerance

If you've ever seen First We Feast's "Hot Ones" interview series, then you know that the show hinges on the host's seemingly superhuman spice tolerance. While Sean Evans remains composed, calmly asking celebrities thoughtful questions and matching them bite-for-bite on increasingly spicier hot sauces, his esteemed guests are gradually reduced to tears, gasping open-mouthed, and sweating profusely. You've probably heard tips for tempering spicy food before, but what if you'd rather lean into the heat? How does he do it? And how does he look so cowboy-cool? The bad news is, we can't all be Sean Evans. But, the good news is, there's an easy way to build up your spice tolerance: Spike your ketchup with Tabasco sauce.

Tabasco is one of the most popular hot sauces in the world for a reason. The spicy condiment is made from tabasco peppers, vinegar, and salt, and it's as much about the heat as it is about the flavor. Tabasco totes a spicy kick at the start with notes of bold red pepper and piquant vinegar to finish. Perhaps surprisingly, ketchup totes a similar lineup of ingredients: pureed tomatoes, pickling spices, vinegar, salt, and sugar — meaning a few drops of Tabasco is a chameleon heat ingredient that won't clash flavor-wise. It's also a solid middle-of-the-road hot sauce for achieving your tolerance goals. Tabasco clocks in at about 700 SHU on the Scoville scale, compared to Frank's Red Hot sauce at 450 SHU and Huy Fong Foods' Sriracha at 2,200 SHU.

Slow and steady wins the race

When it comes to building up your heat tolerance, start small and take care not to overdo it. Spike your ketchup with just a few drops of Tabasco at the beginning of your spice-training journey. You can always decide whether to add more after a careful taste test. Spicy food is all about triggering the brain's pleasure receptors, and you wouldn't want to ruin a good experience by accidentally triggering too many pain receptors instead. Enjoy the flavor and take the time to savor it. If you're frantically chasing each bite with a glass of milk, you're adding too much spice.

A person's predisposition to either tolerate spice or not comes from a mixture of genetics, the area where a person grew up, the foods they ate as a kid, and even certain personality traits, like whether they're a thrill-seeker or naturally enjoy a little danger. Increasing your unique spice tolerance is all about repeated exposure in small, concentrated doses. Don't force it.  You can gradually add more and more drops of Tabasco to your ketchup as your tolerance increases over time. With a little dedicated effort (and a few amended recipes), you'll finally be able to enjoy all those flavorful spicy dishes you've been missing out on, like Indian vindaloo, red curry, Thai kua kling, and more. Pro tip: According to Anthony Bourdain, spicy Sichuan food can cure even the gnarliest of hangovers. Get in on the remedy.