“I have hot sauce talent,” says Ricardo Monroy, who emigrated from Guatemala to Boston eight years ago. Monroy is not being smug, just proud. Over the years, he’s worked as a cook in many local restaurant kitchens and is often praised for the fiery condiments he concocted on the fly, he says. So when he lost his job during the pandemic, Monroy, with his wife, Kamala Loscocco, launched a Boston-based hot sauce business and named it Ricky’s Hot Stuff. Last August, the company won the annual Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream pitch contest and received a grant, mentoring, and coaching. “I was never expecting to win,” he says. But he did for good reasons — his two signature sauces have firepower that comes in waves and then lingers, with complex flavors that balance the heat. One, a bright, earthy salsa verde, with jalapeno and Serrano chilies, vinegar, and grapeseed oil in the blend, evokes the Latin flavors he grew up with. “It resembles the taste and texture of what my grandfather used to make in Guatemala,” Monroy says. “He took hot sauce everywhere in his pocket.” The other, salsa roja, highlights Thai chilies and is jammed with umami flavor from garlic and fish sauce. The condiment is rooted not in the traditional flavors of Monroy’s homeland, but inspired by the dishes he cooked at the Filipino Restaurant Tanám in Somerville’s Bow Market. “Fish sauce is too funky for my country,” he says. His newest sauce, the scarlet Rojita-Fresno Habanero, is the least blistery but still fiery. Without onion and garlic, it’s a straightforward blend of fresnos, habarneros, and vinegar. Use it on anything. A few shakes would be superb in a tequila drink or a Bloody Mary. (Each is $7.99 for 5 ounces.) Available at Formaggio Kitchen locations; Darwin’s, 148 Mount Auburn St., Cambridge, 617-354-5233; Tanám, 1 Bow Market Way, Somerville, or go to www.rickyshotstuff.com.
ANN TRIEGER KURLAND