Like most great oyster spots, Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood takes pride in its rotating selection of the mollusks, which vary greatly in taste depending on where they’re raised. But until recently, they used the same mass-produced hot sauces to complement the drastically different flavors offered up on a half shell. That irony wasn’t lost on the restaurant’s chef de cuisine, Sean Collins, who began creating his own hot sauces while he was working at Downtown’s late Radio City Pizzeria.
When he took the position at RM and learned they were selling up to 10,000 oysters in a busy week, he approached his boss, chef Rick Moonen, about offering something other than Tabasco to accompany it. “I was just gonna do a couple,” Collins says, “but then I started looking into different types of peppers, and where I could find them. One thing lead to another, and I just went a little overboard.”
He currently bottles 23 house-made hot sauces under the brand name RM Seafood Elixir, with a dozen more currently aging. The goal is to eventually expand to 50. Recipes run the gamut from the more mild shishito, padrón or Anaheim peppers to scorching options based around ghost peppers, Trinidad scorpions and Carolina Reapers. The chef further distinguishes their profiles by using a variety of vinegars for the base. The menu lists the heat of each using the popular Scoville scale, with current options ranging from 500 to 2.2 million.
The sauces, which come in snake oil–style bottles, are available in the restaurant for $15-$50 a bottle, and can be shipped out of town so that everyone can feel the heat.