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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Condiments

TIP OF THE DAY: Non-Ketchup Dips For Fries & Onion Rings

baconnaise-firebox-230

Baconnaise, bacon-flavored mayo, is good
stuff (but stick to the regular, not the Lite).
Photo courtesy LiteBox.com.

 

When Chef David Venable of QVC wrote us to suggest Beer-Battered Onion Rings with Horseradish Dill Dipping Sauce—the recipes are below—we thought: What else works as a condiment with French fries and onion rings instead of ketchup?

For a change of pace or a special occasion, try these condiments, dips and sauces:

  • Aïoli (garlic mayonnaise), the classic for Belgian frites (recipe)
  • Bacon mayonnaise like Baconnaise
  • Blue cheese dip (here’s our favorite)
  • Chipotle ketchup, curry ketchup or sriracha ketchup (recipe)
  • Ginger-sesame sauce (recipe below)
  • Homemade lemon or lime mayonnaise (recipe—grate zest into the mayo to taste)
  • Korean dipping sauce, based on tofu, red pepper paste, soybean paste (recipe)
  • Ponzu sauce
  • Saffron mayonnaise (recipe)
  • Salsa, red or green
  • Spicy mayonnaise (like chipotle or wasabi mayo)
  • Vietnamese dipping sauce, sweet and tangy, with lime juice and Thai chiles (recipe)
  • Yogurt dip—tzatziki or raita
  •  
    RECIPE: GINGER-SESAME SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the ingredients in a small bowl.

     

    RECIPE: HORSERADISH DIPPING SAUCE

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoon horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  •  
    Preparation

    1. WHISK together the mayonnaise, ketchup, horseradish paprika and dill in a small bowl. Set aside and cook the onion rings.
     
    RECIPE: FRIED ONION RINGS

    Ingredients

  • Canola oil, for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
  •  

    onion-rings-horseradish-dipping-sauce-qvc-230

    Onion rings with horseradish dipping sauce. Photo courtesy QVC.

  • 3 large onions, preferably Vidalia, sliced into 1/4-inch rings and separated
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CLIP a deep-frying thermometer to the side of a deep, heavy pot. Add 2 inches of canola oil to the pot and slowly heat the oil to 350°F. While the oil is heating…

    2. WHISK together the flour, egg, garlic powder, oregano, cayenne, salt and black pepper in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the beer, stirring until a thick batter forms.

    3. DREDGE the onion slices in the batter. Using tongs, add four or five onion rings to the hot oil and fry for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown. Turn them halfway through cooking. (Cook the onion rings in batches or the oil won’t stay hot and the onion rings will be soggy rather than crisp.)

    4. USING tongs, remove the fried onions to a wire rack or paper towels to drain. Cook the remaining batter-dipped onion rings. Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Savory Jam

    savory-beauty2-230

    Savory jams. From top, clockwise: tomato
    jam, garlic jelly, onion jam and pepper jelly.
    Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Jam is a preserve of crushed whole fruit, boiled with sugar into a sweet spread. The use of jam to describe a food dates at least from the 1730s, and probably derives from the verb jam, which refers to something tightly pressing between two surfaces (in this case, referring to crushing the fruit).

    Over the centuries, there have been jams based on vegetables: garlic, onion, tomato and more recently, bacon jam, often made by adding luscious bacon to an onion base. Caramelized onions or shallots are a chunkier form of onion jam.

    Some jams are both sweet and savory. Pepper jelly, for example, adds bell peppers or hot chiles into a sweet base. Savory herbs—basil and rosemary, for example—can be combined with fruits to add a savory dimension.

    House-made savory jam is trending at fine restaurants nationwide. It won’t appear on supermarket shelves any time soon, but look for them at specialty food stores, farmers markets and online. If you can’t find what you want, look for recipes and make your own savory jam.

    Why pay attention to savory jam? Versatility, and an easy way to add flavor to numerous recipes. Savory jams work as general condiments, dips, glazes, spreads and thickening agents for sauces.

     
    12+ WAYS TO USE SAVORY JAM

    You can use savory jams to enliven food at every meal. Sure, you can spread them on toast; but you can also:

  • Add to the pan when sautéeing. Since the flavors of savory jam are so concentrated, only a teaspoon is needed. Try shrimp sautéed with tomato jam, garlic and a pinch of harissa.
  • Add to sauces, especially when deglazing a pan.
  • Serve as a meat condiment, an update of mint jelly.
  • Use as a burger or sandwich (including grilled cheese!) condiment instead of ketchup, mayonnaise or mustard.
  • Serve as a fish/seafood condiment (especially onion or garlic jam).
  • Make a jelly omelet.
  • Add to a vinaigrette (try pepper jelly).
  • Serve as a condiment with cheeses (especially saltier cheese) and charcuterie.
  • Create canapés, with bits of meat or vegetable (try tomato jam with roasted sweet potato rounds).
  • Make crostini appetizers or snacks.
  • Serve with grains.
  • Fold into mac and cheese (especially bacon jam!).
  • Combine with cream cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt for a creamy spread or dip.
  • Dilute with vinegar or soy sauce into a dipping sauce.
  •  
    Flavor And the Menu, a magazine for chefs, reports chefs using bacon-chile jam in a Brussels sprouts salad, for example, bacon marmalade crostini topped with blue cheese, tomato marmalade on a BLT, tomato-jalapeño jam on flatbread and savory tomato jam as a dip for fries.

     

    JAM, JELLY, PRESERVES: THE DIFFERENCE

    The jam and jelly group falls into the category of spreads.

  • Jelly is sweetened and jelled fruit juice, a clear product that will hold its shape.
  • Jam is a mixture of crushed fruit and sugar, cooked to the texture of a thick purée.
  • Preserve is similar to jam but contains large chunks of fruit.
  • Conserve is similar to a preserve but usually contains more than one kind of fruit and often nuts.
  • Marmalade is citrus-based and contain the fruit’s rind as well as the flesh.
  • Fruit spread is made with fruit juice concentrate or low-calorie sweetener replacing all or part of the sugar.
  • Fruit butter cooks fresh fruit with sugar spices until thick and then blends it to a smooth consistency.
  • Fruit curd is a creamy spread made with sugar, eggs and butter.
  • Chutney is a spiced condiment made of fruit or vegetables. It is typically served as an accompaniment to food, not as a spread.
  •  

    sundried-tomato-jam-spiceamecooksWP-230r

    Sundried tomato jam on goat cheese or cream cheese: a quick and easy crostini. Photo courtesy SpiceAmeWordpress.com. Here’s the recipe.

     

    Check out our Jam & Jelly Glossary for more information and other types of spreads.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Fish Or Chicken With Salsa

    Salsa has been America’s favorite condiment since 2000, when it supplanted ketchup in sales. But it actually has been a favorite condiment for thousands of years.

    The wild chile was domesticated about 5200 B.C.E. and tomatoes by 3000 B.C.E., both in Central America. The two ingredients were combined into a condiment, incorporating other ingredients like squash seeds and even beans (the predecessor of one of our favorites, tomato, corn and bean salsa). The Spanish conquistadors, taking over in 1529, called it “salsa,” the Spanish word for sauce.

    Salsa was not used as a dip for tortilla chips, which weren’t invented until the late 1940s in Los Angeles. It was a general sauce for meat, poultry, fish and vegetables. (Here are the history of salsa and the history of tortilla chips.)

    So today’s tip is: Take salsa back to its origins and use it as a sauce for fish and poultry. Here’s the easiest way, from Jillipepper, a New Mexico-based salsa maker.

  • Fish steaks or fillets, 4-6 ounces each
  • 1 salsa, jar or homemade
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRUSH the fish liberally with the salsa.

       

    montreal-salsa-chicken-mccormick-230

    Salsa-coated chicken. Photo courtesy McCormick.

     
    2. COOK on a grill over medium heat or under the broiler. Turn and brush with salsa every 5 minutes until fish is done.
     

    When you use salsa with chicken or fish, it can be traditionally savory, or sweetened with fruit. (See the different types of salsa.)
     

    SWEET SALSA

    If you like things sweet—and easy—McCormick has a popular Salsa Chicken recipe that combines canned tomatoes with apricot preserves, and a Montreal Salsa Chicken that combines mild salsa with peach preserves.

    Both of those combine tomatoes with fruit, but you can also make a pure fruit salsa with no tomatoes.

    Peach salsa is the best-selling fruit salsa flavor in the U.S., beating mango and pineapple. While most bottled peach salsa is tomato-based salsa roja, you can make fresh peach salsa without tomatoes. Wait for peach season, though; then combine 2 cups peeled, finely diced peaches, 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion, 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper, 1 de-seeded and finely chopped jalapeño, juice of 1 lime, 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro or basil leaves and 1 clove minced garlic. Add salt to taste.

    Mango pineapple salsa is also easy to whip up. Combine 1 diced mango and 2 cups of diced pineapple with ½ medium onion, diced; ½ cup cilantro, diced; the juice of one lime, and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add minced jalapeño for heat.

    Cherry salsa goes nicely with chicken or fish. You can use fresh cherries in season, but frozen cherries work fine. Here’s a salmon recipe with cherry mango salsa.

    And when watermelon season returns, how about a watermelon, corn and black bean salsa?

     

    Grilled fish with a savory salsa. Photo from the cookbook, South American Grill, courtesy Rizzoli USA.

     

    SAVORY SALSA

    We prefer a largely savory salsa with grilled fish, sometimes with diced fruit—mango, peach or pineapple tossed in for balance, but never, ever with added sugar.

    While you can use salsa from a jar, making your own is easy and you can customize it with your favorite ingredients. You can also create your preferred texture, from chunky hand-diced to puréed in the blender.

    The possible combinations are [almost] endless”

    POSSIBLE SALSA INGREDIENTS

  • Tomatoes: in the off season, use cherry tomatoes
  • Fruit: grape, mango, melon, peach, pineapple or other fruit
  • Onions: green onion, red onion, sweet onion
  • Herbs: basil, cilantro, parsley
  • Acid: wine vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice
  • Heat: jalapeño or other fresh chile
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic
  • Enhancements: black beans, capers, corn kernels, gherkins, olives
  •  

    HOMEMADE SALSA RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 3 pounds tomatoes, diced and seeded
  • Optional: 1/2 pound diced fruit
  • 1/2 small red onion (more to taste), small dice
  • 2 or 3 small jalapeño chiles
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar (or more to taste)
  • 1/2 of a lemon or lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup or more cilantro (if you don’t like cilantro, substitute parsley)
  • 2 splashes of red wine vinegar (about a 1/2 teaspoon)
     
    Preparation

    1. REMOVE the stems from the cilantro. Remove the white membrane and seeds from the jalapeños and mince the flesh.

    2. COMBINE the tomatoes, fruit, onions, jalapeño and garlic. Add the seasonings (vinegar, citrus juice, salt, pepper, cilantro) and toss to thoroughly combine. Allow flavors to blend for a half hour or more (overnight is fine); then taste and adjust seasonings. You may want more vinegar, more jalapeño, etc.

    3. Pulse until desired consistency.
     
    This is making us hungry. Guess what we’re having for lunch!

      

  • Comments

    PRODUCT: Maille Dijon Mustard With Balsamic Vinegar Of Modena

    maille-balsamic-mustard-kaminsky-230

    Two favorite flavors together: Dijon mustard
    and balsamic vinegar. Photo by Hannah
    Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Often, the nicest gift you can bring to a party or dinner hosted by a foodie is something knew he or she probably hasn’t tried.

    We nominate Maille’s new Honey Dijon Mustard with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. Together, the two classic flavors create a flavorful yet mellow blend that’s not quite as sharp as classic Dijon mustard. At 10 calories per teaspoon, it’s low in calories and high on flavor.

    We love basic Dijon mustard, but it’s that much special—similar to Edmond Fallot Gingerbread Mustard we wrote about recently.

    As you might imagine, there are countless ways you can use fine mustard to enhance almost anything on your plate.

    The product, which is a medium brown color as opposed to conventional yellow Dijon, just arrived in the U.S. Until recently, it has only been available at Maille’s European boutiques in Dijon, Paris and London.

    Get yours online at MyBrands.com for $9.89 per jar (7.9 oz/225g).

     

    SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • As a condiment and with cheeses, cold cuts, pâtes, roasted meats and vegetables.
  • As a sandwich spread.
  • In vinaigrettes and dips.
  • In glazes and marinades.
  • In a sauce: Use it with wine to deglaze meat near the end of cooking to create a mouthwatering sauce. Here’s how.
  • As a seasoning in turkey stuffing, chicken and pork dishes, macaroni, potato salad (tuna, chicken, egg, etc.).
  •  
    You can find lots of recipes on Maille.us. Although we haven’t tried it, there’s a recipe for carrot cake that uses Dijon mustard!

     

    RECIPE: BALSAMIC MUSTARD & CRANBERRY SAUCE

    Combine the sweetness of balsamic with the balance of mustard in this new twist on homemade cranberry sauce. The cranberry sauce can be made up to five days in advance.

    Ingredients

  • 2 bags (8 ounces each) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 cup Maille Honey Dijon Mustard with Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
  • 1/2 cup water
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat to a simmer.

    2. REDUCE the heat to low and stir occasionally until the cranberries have broken down and the mixture is thick and sauce-like, about 20-25 minutes.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and cool completely before serving.

     

    cranberry-sauce-w-balsamic-mustard-maille-230

    Cranberry sauce with balsamic Dijon mustard. Photo courtesy Maille.

     

    FOOD TRIVIA

    The Romans were probably the first to experiment with the preparation of mustard as a condiment. They mixed unfermented grape juice, known as must, with ground mustard seeds (called sinapis) to make burning must, mustum ardens in Latin. Hence, the name must ard.

     
    ABOUT MAILLE

    Founded in 1747 by Antoine Maille in Dijon, France, La Maison Maille stepped into history when the refined recipes first caught the attention of King Louis XV of France, becoming his official supplier of vinegar and mustard. Soon other European Royal Courts, including those of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Hungary, followed suit and granted Maille this significant honor.

    Maille is the leading producer of premium mustard, vinegar and cornichons in France and the number one brand of imported mustard in the U.S. Maille Honey Balsamic joins the brand’s U.S. imports, which include Dijon Originale, Old-Style (À La Ancienne), Honey Dijon, Horseradish and Rich Country mustards, plus Dijonnaise and Cornichons.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Fig Jam, Fig Chutney & More Figgy Condiments

    Figs are hot and dry weather fruit—famously enjoyed for millennia in the Middle East, where it’s hot year-round.

    In the U.S., figs grow in zones 8-10 (most of our figs are grown in California. They have two seasons: a shorter season in early summer and a second, main crop that starts in late summer and runs through fall.

    Fig trees cannot withstand temperatures much below 20°F, and so are not grown in most of the Midwest and in the Northeast.

    dalmatia-fig-spread-thekitchn-230

    Dalmatia Fig Spread. Photo courtesy
    TheKitchn.com. Here’s their review.

     

    So depending on your residence, you won’t find fresh figs; but you can console yourself with a jar of fig jam or chutney.

    Beyond spreading it on toast, here’s what you can do with it, courtesy of FrenchFarm.com,

  • Use it as a glaze for meats, especially duck and pork.
  • Mix it in with pan juices to make a sauce.
  • Add it to a red wine vinaigrette to make a spectacular salad dressing.
  • Pair it with cheese—our favorites being blue cheese , goat cheese, bleu or camembert on crostini.
  • Use it as the center of humbprint cookies.
  • Spoon it over cheesecake.
  • Add it to cheese and charcuterie plates.
  • Garnish a flatbread pizza made with prosciutto, Gorgonzola cheese and arugula.
  • Use it as a topping for ice cream.
  •  

    You can find Dalmatia Fig Spread (photo above)at many supermarkets, and other fig jams and chutneys at most specialty stores. But The French Farm has the biggest selection of fig condiments we’ve seen, any of which would make a lovely small gift or stocking stuffer for a foodie. The choices include:

     

  • Black Fig Jam (from L’Epicurien), to spread on toast, pastries, waffles, or to enjoy with cheese.
  • Confit of Figs & Black Olives (L’Epicurien), a spread of sweet white figs and savory black olives that can dress up just about anything. Pair with cheese or use as a sandwich spread.
  • Fig & Balsamic Vinegar Confit (L’Epicurien), delicious on a sandwich or on a cracker with goat cheese, or as a condiment with foie gras.
  • Fig & Grape Jam (from L’Epicurien), a delightful balance of juicy grape and earthy fig, spread some on toast or breakfast pastries.
  • Fig & Walnut Confit (from L’Epicurien) is perfect with goat cheese or on a slice of toasted baguette.
  • White Fig Jam (from L’Epicurien), more delicate than the black fig jam, is delicious on top of a slice of toasted baguette, with a slice of Cheddar on a crostini, or on a breakfast pastry.
  •  
    But fig condiments don’t stop at jam. Check out the other options:

     

    fig-mustard-frenchfarm-230

    Mustard with fig. Photo courtesy The French Farm.

     

  • Fig Mustard (from L’Epicurien), can be paired with cured meats, ham, roasted or smoked turkey, cheddar cheese, roast pork or a grilled cheese sandwich.
  • Grape Must Vinegar with Fig (from Il Boschetto) is freshly pressed grape juice that contains the skins, seeds and stems. The mixture is simmered with the addition of vinegar made from Tuscan red wine, into a rich balsamic-like syrup that is stunning over fish, fresh salads, and desserts.
  • Red Wine Vinegar With Fig (from Edmond Fallot), great for salad dressing, marinades, or sauces. Try it on a goat cheese-stuffed chicken breast with braised greens.
  • Spiced Fig Chutney (from L’Epicurien), both sweet and savory and perfect for a cheese board, charcuterie plate or a chicken or turkey sandwich.
  •  
    A BRIEF HISTORY OF FIGS

    The edible fig was one of the first plants to be cultivated by humans. Fossils dating to about 9400–9200 B.C.E. in the Jordan Valley predate the domestication of barley, legumes, rye and wheat, and may thus be the first known instance of agriculture. Some botany historians propose that the figs may have been cultivated one thousand years before the next crops (wheat and rye) were domesticated.

    Much later in time, figs were a common food source for the Romans. Cato the Elder, in his De Agri Cultura, lists several strains of figs: the Mariscan, African, Herculanean, Saguntine and the black Tellanian. In addition to human consumption, figs were used, among other things, to fatten geese for the production of a precursor of foie gras.

    In ancient times, figs were cultivated from Afghanistan to Portugal to India. From the 15th century onwards, they spread to Europe and later, to the New World. [Source]

      

    Comments

    PRODUCT: Gingerbread Mustard

    gingerbread-mustard-fallot-230

    Gingerbread mustard. Photo courtesy Fallot.

     

    For the holidays, how about traditional Dijon mustard mixed with gingerbread spices? It’s a French specialty.

    In French it’s called moutarde au pain d’epices; pain d’epices, which translates to spice bread, is the French word for gingerbread.

    Gingerbread is one of the specialties of the Burgundy region of France. So it’s no surprise that creative cooks decided to finely grind and mix it with honey and mustard.

    The subtly flavored mustard is delicious served with white meats or sausages, ham or pork. You can spread it on a sandwich, serve it with an omelet, turn it into a dip, or add it to a stuffing mix for roast chicken in a vinaigrette for for salad and crudités.

    It’s something special for a foodie holiday gift. We found the Fallot brand at BienManger.com and the Pommery brand on another website, website.

    Maille also makes a version with white wine, gingerbread and chestnut honey.

     

     
      

    Comments

    PRODUCTS: Green Sriracha & Japanese Spicy Mayo

    musashi-green-sriracha-mayo-kalviste-230

    Green sriracha and spicy mayo: Two
    delicious new ways to heat things up. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    Sriracha, a hot sauce that originated in Thailand, has become mainstream in American supermarkets. It is used as a table condiment, a recipe ingredient and a flavoring for snacks like popcorn and potato chips. Conventionally made with red chiles, it has been given a color makeover with green serrano chiles by Musashi Foods.

    Not surprisingly, it has a different flavor profile. Our resident sriracha expert says it has more of a flavor kick than his usual brand (Huy Fong, a.k.a. Rooster, Sriracha), with a heat that builds.

    You can buy the 12-ounce squeeze bottle on Amazon for $6.99 with free shipping on orders over $35. So consider these attractive green bottles as stocking stuffers for your heat-loving friends.

    Musashi Foods has also launched Japanese Spicy Mayo, the condiment used to make spicy rolls at sushi bars. It’s also delicious with crudités, eggs, fries, sandwiches and burgers, seafood and anywhere you’d like some heat in your mayonnaise. It’s the same price and delivery deal as the Green Sriracha, on Amazon.

    (Note that you can make your own spicy mayo by mixing hot sauce into conventional mayonnaise. You can control the heat this way—Musashi’s mayo is pretty hot!)

     

    WHAT IS SRIRACHA?

    Sriracha, pronounced see-RAH-jah, is a Thai hot chili sauce. It is made from red chiles, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt; and is aged for three months or longer.

    Unlike American hot sauces such as Tabasco, which are vinegar sauces that are infused with hot chiles, sriracha is primarily puréed chiles, making it a much thicker sauce.

    The sauce is named after the coastal city of Si Racha in eastern Thailand, where it was first made and marketed. Different brands can be found in the Asian aisle of many supermarkets and in Asian groceries.

    According to multiple sources, including an article in Bon Appétit, the sauce was made more than 80 years ago in by a local woman, Thanom Chakkapak. She initially made the condiment for her family, and then for friends, to enjoy with the local seafood (think of it as a much hotter counterpart to American cocktail sauce).

    As is a common story in the specialty food business, they encouraged her to sell it commercially—and it became the best-selling chile sauce in Thailand. In 1984, Ms. Chakkapak sold her business to a major food company, Thai Theparos Food Products.

    What’s the correct spelling: sriraja, si-racha, sriracha or siracha?

    According to Andrea Nguyen, who wrote the article for Bon Appétit: Since Thailand does not adhere to one romanization system for Thai words, many variants have emerged, chosen by manufacturers who have created their own version of the original sauce.

    However, the most commonly accepted spelling is sriracha.

    ABOUT MUSASHI FOODS

    Founded in 2013 in New York City by an entrepreneur with a passion for hot and spicy food and named for the famed Japanese Samurai, Miyamoto Musashi, Musashi Foods is a producer of premium Asian sauces made from the highest quality ingredients. For more information visit Musashifoods.com.

     
      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Ají Sauce

    Hot sauce lovers should take a closer look at ají sauce, a standard in Ecuador and Peru. Aji amarillo is one of the most common types of chiles in the area, and is also one of the most important ingredients in the two countries.

    While, like all salsas, there are as many variations as there are cooks, a basic ají criollo is made from the ají amarillo (yellow ají*), along with cilantro, garlic, onion and lime.

    Each region and city has its own unique recipe. For example, ají de tomate de árbol—tree tomato or tamarillo ají—uses tamarillo as well as ají amarillo. (A recipe is below.)

    Andrés Dávila, executive chef of Casa Gangotena, TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top Ten Hotel, offers tourists a journey through the different types of ají, with a selection of six sauces carefully paired with a dish that heightens the flavors of the local cuisine. He’s also sent us a standard recipe so you can make your own.

    Great for sauces and to kick up any meal with a great flavor and medium heat. Chewing on the chiles adds more heat.

  • Ají mixed with passion fruit, which colors the sauce a spectacular yellow, goes well paired with chicken or pork.
  • Ají with sambo squash seeds, a light green cream with a subtle smell and taste that goes well with white meats.
  •    

    aji-amarillo-perudelights-230r

    Ají amarillo, in shades of yellow and orange. Photo courtesy PeruDelights.com.

  • Manaba-style pickled ají, flavored and colored with carrots, is the perfect accompaniment to fish.
  • Orange ají is made with tree tomato (tamarillo) and chochos (lupines).
  • Purple ají, colored with beets, has a complex layering of fruit vinegar, grated carrots and pickle slices, goes well with both seafood and red meats.
  •  
    PICK UP A JAR OF AJÍ AMARILLO (YELLOW AJÍ) PASTE

    You can probably find a jar of ají paste in the Latin foods section of your supermarket. Goya makes it, of course, and you can find specialty brands such as Costa Peruana and Inca’s Food online.

    Aji paste is simply a purée of fresh ajis. “American fusion” uses include:

  • Mix a tablespoon with a cup of Alfredo or other white sauce, red sauce or brown sauce or gravy.
  • Add to soup (including chicken soup).
  • Add to a ceviche marinade.
  • Mix into condiments to add flavor and heat.
  •  
    *While ají is Spanish for chile pepper and amarillo means yellow, the color changes to orange as the chiles mature. You can see the deepening colors in the photo above.

     

    aji-amarillo-paste-incasfood-230

    Add bold flavor to many dishes with ají
    amarillo (yellow chile) paste. Photo courtesy
    Inca’s Food.

     

    RECIPE: HOMEMADE AJÍ SAUCE

    This classic ají sauce combines tree tomato (tamarillo), ají amarillo and chochos (lupines, or lupin beans). Lupins are a large yellow Italian bean. You can substitute lima beans or fava beans for the lupins.

    Ingredients

  • 4-5 tomatillos
  • 2 ajís (you can substitute serranos or other red chilies, or yellow habaneros for extra heat)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  • ¼ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: cooked and peeled chochos (lupin beans)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PEEL the tomatillos and boil them for 5 minutes.

    2. BLEND the tomatillos with ají chiles. For a milder sauce, seed and devein the chiles. You can always save a few seeds and add them in if it’s too mild.

    3. TRANSFER the mix to a small sauce pan, add the water (you can add more if you want a more liquid sauce) and cook on medium heat for 5-8 minutes. You can also skip the cooking part; the sauce will be fresher in taste, but will need to be consumed more quickly.

    4. ADD the onion, lime juice, cilantro, optional chochos and salt to taste. Serve warm or cold.

    VARIATION: Replace the water with oil (avocado, light olive oil or a mild flavored oil) for a creamier Cuencano-style ají, and do not cook it after blending.

    Recipe courtesy Laylita.com.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Trending Sauces To Know (And Use!)

    Yesterday we recommended serving proteins “three ways.” One of the ways to differentiate them is with sauces, and we recommended a look at the famed mother sauces of France.

    Then, we got an email from Food & The Menu, a magazine for chefs. The new issue features “10 Sauces Of The Moment”—options that span the world.

    “Say ‘so long’ to complicated reductions and rich, butter-mounted glazes,” says Joan Lang, the article’s author. “Some of today’s most trending sauces are more like condiments, following the popularity of sriracha, harissa, wasabi and aïoli.”

    So if you want to get ahead of your favorite chefs, consider these sauces, many of which are sold ready-made. Some will be familiar to you, others less so. Read the full article, which includes recipe ideas:

    1. Adobo Sauce

    Long a Mexican staple, this vinegar-based sauce is made with chiles and/or paprika, garlic, cumin, oregano, pepper, sugar and sometimes tomato or ketchup. It is perhaps the easiest of the group to find in your local supermarket (it’s also available online). There’s a Filipino version of adobo, a simmer sauce of vinegar, garlic and soy sauce. Try them both!

    2. Colorado Sauce

    Rich, smoky and spicy, Colorado sauce (also called red chile sauce or chile colorado) is another find from Mexico. To achieve its namesake red color, it incorporates multiple types of roasted or dried chiles (such as ancho and New Mexico) with onions and tomatoes. Make it or buy it.

    3. Comeback Sauce

    From Mississippi, this sauce is a cross between spicy rémoulade sauce and creamy Thousand Island dressing is a versatile dip, dressing or spread osandwiches and more—and you sure can’t argue with the fun name.

       

    aloha-soy-sauce-amz

    Soy sauce with a Hawaiian twist can be brush onto grilled food or added to dips, mayonnaise, and vinaigrettes. Photo courtesy Aloha Brand.

     
    4. Donkey Sauce

    Popularized by television chef Guy Fieri, donkey sauce combines mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, sriracha and lots of roasted garlic to create a hot and spicy alternative to aïoli sauce, the classic French garlic mayonnaise. 
     
    5. Fonduta

    A rich, melted cheese sauce from the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, fonduta is usually made with Fontina, Parmesan and cream—and if you’ve got the bucks, white truffles in season. It is served as a sauce over food or as a fondue-like dip.
     

     

    ponzu-yakamiorchard-230

    Ponzu sauce is available in most
    supermarkets. We buy this gourmet blend
    from Yakima Orchard online.

     

    6. Gochujang Sauce

    Pronounced ko-choo-CHONG, this pungent Korean hot red chili paste is made from fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, red chile, garlic, honey and salt. Spice lovers will enjoy a jar. Look for it in Asian markets or online.

    7. Hawaiian Sauces

    These range from traditional salty-sweet Aloha Sauce (a brand of soy sauce blended with fruit juices, brown sugar, ginger and garlic) to more creative inventions like poi vinaigrette (mashed boiled taro root mixed into a vinaigrette). You can find Aloha Sauce on Amazon.com.

     
    8. Kewpie Mayonnaise

    This MSG-laden mayonnaise from Japan, first made in Japan in 1925, more recently came to prominence at sushi bars in the U.S. as “Dynamite Sauce” for the Dynamite Roll.* Made with rice vinegar instead of distilled vinegar, it is yellower, creamier and richer than western mayonnaise. It is now used to give a kick of sweet and vinegary creaminess to salads and vegetables. Look for it in Asian markets or online.

     
    9. Nyonya Sauce

    This spicy Malaysian sauce typically contains chile paste, curry, fish sauce, lemongrass and other spices. Lang predicts that “before long this flavor booster will go mainstream.” We found it available in packets on Amazon.com.
     

    10. Ponzu Sauce

    This Japanese soy-and-citrus-based dipping sauce is an easy mix of yuzu or lemon juice, kombu, mirin and rice wine vinegar. In Japanese cuisine it’s served with dumplings or shabu shabu, but its uses have evolved (we like it with seafood and rice). You can buy it in the Asian products section of your market. Our favorite, from Yakami Orchard, is available online.
     
     
    WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CONDIMENT AND A SAUCE?

    A sauce is a condiment, which is defined as a food item added to the primary food to enhance its flavor.

    While some condiments are used by the chef during cooking (barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, for example), others, such as ketchup and mustard, are applied by the individual diner.

    The word derives from the Latin condimentum, meaning spice, seasoning or sauce. That word in turn derived from the Latin condere, meaning to preserve, pickle or season. The word originally described pickled or preserved foods, but evolved over time.
     
    *The Dynamite Roll incorporates shrimp tempura, masago (capelin roe) and vegetables, such as radish sprouts, avocado and/or cucumber.

      

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    PRODUCT: Fischer & Wieser Raspberry Chipotle Sauce

    fisher-wieser-raspberry-chipotle-sauce-230

    Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce
    is an award winning condiment. Photo
    courtesy Fischer & Wieser.

     

    Perhaps we’re in a raspberry state of mind. Yesterday we recommended the delicious jam from Chad’s Raspberry Kitchen. Today it’s the Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce from Fischer & Wieser.

    The motto of the Fischer & Wieser specialty foods company is “inspiring your culinary adventure.” The company manufactures more than a hundred items, but the one that lingers in our memory is smoky Raspberry Chipotle Sauce.

    A blend of raspberries and chipotle peppers, it is a smokey, sweet and spicy condiment for meat, fish or poultry. We mix it with a bit of mayo for a sandwich spread, and also enjoy it with scrambled eggs or an omelet. It is delectable!

    You can’t run out of ways to use it. For example:

  • Bacon-wrapped stuffed jalapeños
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Baked beans
  • Brie en croute
  • Chicken dippers
  • Cowboy coleslaw
  • Easy appetizer with cream cheese and crackers
  • Grilled beef or pork tenderloin or roast
  • Grilled salmon
  • Kebabs
  • Ribs
  • Shrimp tacos
  • Salsa
  • Sandwiches (great with ham and cheese)
  • Spinach salad and other salad dressings
  • Steak
  • Stuffed chicken breasts
  • Tomato and feta salad
  • Turkey
  • Wings
  • Don’t forget dessert:

  • Bread Pudding
  • Brownies
  • Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Sherry Sauce
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Melon Salad
  • Peach sorbet
  •  
    All of the recipes can be found on the company website. There’s even one for a spicy Margarita.

     

    WHERE TO FIND IT

    Raspberry Chipotle Sauce is sold online, at specialty food stores, club stores and grocery stores in the U.S., and internationally in Canada, Mexico and the U.K. We really like it as a small house gift, party favor or stocking stuffer.

    A 15.75-ounce bottle is $8.74 on Amazon.com; a 40-ounce bottle is $17.95.

    From its origins as a road-side peach stand, Fischer & Wieser now produces more than one hundred products in the same tradition as their first jar of peach preserves. Nestled in the fruitful farmland of the Texas Hill Country, Fischer & Wieser Specialty Foods, Inc. is still family owned and operated. But it’s now a bustling international company that has become the number one specialty food company in Texas.

    The company’s URL reflects its origins: Jelly.com.

    Fischer & Wieser recommends “sauce pooling,” serving a grilled, roasted or poached protein (in the photo, roasted turkey) with an assortment of sauces and other condiments. It’s our friend Andy’s favorite way of eating!

     

    turkey-sauce-plate-fisherwieser-230

    Fischer & Wieser recommends “sauce pooling,” serving a plain protein with an assortment of sauces and other condiments. Photo courtesy Fischer & Wieser.

     

      

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