When it comes to slaying bacteria in oysters, hot sauce is serial killer in a bottle. At least, that’s what some scientific studies suggest. If you’ve ever eaten bad oysters you’re probably intimately familiar with the involuntary colon cleanse that ensues hours later. That’s probably due to the microbes residing in the oysters’ digestive tracts. Eating tainted oysters can cause issues ranging from turning a toilet into a Jackson Pollock painting to the far more dangerous (and less humorous) blood poisoning. One of the more evil bacteria that lives in oysters is Vibrio vulnificus, which can kill people with liver disease and other underlying health problems.
For years scientists have studied ways to make oyster omnomnoming safer, from adjusting storage temps to heat shocking them, and even radiation bombardment. In the 1990s, researchers at Louisiana State University Medical Center in New Orleans put condiments to the test, too.
That team broke down cocktail sauce into its main ingredients and experimented with each individually to see what effect they’d have on the bacteria that call oysters home. Those components would be Tabasco and other Louisiana hot sauces, horseradish, lemon juice, and ketchup.
Horseradish and lemon juice performed moderately well but ketchup was about as effective as beating them with a pillowcase full of styrofoam peanuts. Hot sauce, on the other hand, John Wick’ed every m’fer in the room. A dash of hot sauce shot into a test tube of bacteria killed all of them in under a minute. Even diluted 16 to 1, it killed them within five minutes. Like the boss villain in a revenge flick, the researchers sent more and more powerful foes at the hot sauce, too. They tested three other varieties of vibrio bacteria, E. coli , shigella, and salmonella. Not one of the little henchmen lived to tell the bosses they’d failed. Not. A. Single. One.
In the time since that study, hot sauce has grown and evolved into a variety of flavor profiles, giving all of us grub enthusiasts a whole tasty arsenal of assassins with which to murder oyster bacteria. Case in point: Byron Bay Chilli Co Fiery Coconut Chilli Sauce. Not only does it do the job, it also brings a tropical flavor profile to bear on the target. One that also packs curry and ginger, too.
We’ve already featured a few recipes using this tasty condiment for its intended purpose of bringing unique flavor and spicy heat to the table. But if you want to try it for yourself, pick up a bottle here.
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