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Archive for Condiments

TIP OF THE DAY: Gochujang Sauce, The Next Sriracha

Over the past five years, sriracha, a Thai hot sauce which most of us had never heard of previously, has emerged as the hot sauce of choice. It’s more flavorful than many of the big-brand American hot pepper sauces that had long been the norm.

But climbing up the ladder is a new (to most Americans) hot sauce alternative: gochujang (go-CHOO-jang). This Korean fermented hot sauce is a mixture of red chili powder, glutinous rice powder, fermented soy beans, salt, other seasonings like garlic and onion, and a bit of sugar syrup or malt. It is then aged.

As a result, it is even more complex in flavor than sriracha. Some chefs call it “an umami bomb,” combining spicy, salty, sweet and earthy notes.

Gochujang is a staple Korean condiment also known in English as Korean hot pepper paste. Sweet heat with the consistency of hoisin sauce, it’s used in a wide range of Korean dishes, from bibimbap to dukbokki (stir-fried rice cakes) to tteokbokki to something more familiar: fried chicken. And of course, it can be used in American recipes instead of barbecue sauce, ketchup and other condiments.

It deepen the flavors (and color!) of everything from broth to noodle dishes and vegetables. Incorporate it into a recipe, or serve it as a table condiment so people can add their own.

A group of 18 recipes from Bon Appetit includes recipes for, among others:

  • Bibimbap
  • Chicken Wings
  • Congee
  • Grilled Sesame Shrimp
  • Hangar Steak
  • Kimchi
  • Pork Ribs and Pork Shoulder
  • Stews, including Sundubu with Clams and Tofu
  • Veggies: Brussels Sprouts and Tofu Stir-Fry, Roasted Winter Squash, Sautéed Cabbage
  •  
    When mixed with Korean red miso (doenjang), it creates ssamjang, a condiment for lettuce wraps (ssam) and raw or blanched vegetables.

     

    Gochujang Sauce

    Gochuchang Sauce

    Korean Fried Chicken

    Top: Gochuchang sauce, also called paste because of its consistency. If you can’t find it locally, you can buy it online or make your own. Center: A bowl of gochuchang, served as a condiment. Photo courtesy Trifood.com. Bottom: Spicy fried chicken. Here’s the recipe from SBS.com.au.

     
    Add some gochujang to mayonnaise as a spread or a dip for crudités or fries. Serve it plain with eggs. Put it on a burger or hot dog. You can blend in fruit for an even more complex sauce.

    Add it to dressings, marinades and sauces to add some spicy flavor. You can make a Korean-style arrabiata sauce for pasta, or pair it with other noodle dishes and rice.

    Although it contains no tomatoes, some Americans think of gochujank as spicy Korean ketchup.

    What are you waiting for? Add it to your shopping list!
     
    BUT WHAT BRAND?

    All commercial gochujang is imported, and some labels are only in Korean.

    “The best gochujang” is a matter of personal taste. You may like more sweetness, we may like less. That said, if you’re in an Asian market with multiple options, you could ask a clerk to explain the differences.

    If you pursue a close relationship with gochuchang, you may discover different styles, including chalgochujang (sweet rice gochujang) and taeyangcho (sundried, i.e. the paste is actually dried under the sun).

    However, as with ketchup, mustard, soy sauce and other condiments, you won’t find a disappointing one.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Shpickles Pickled Vegetables, Shmolives Pickled Olives

    Last summer, when scouting a Brooklyn food festival, we came across Shpickles, Shmolives and Shnuts. They’re made by hand by a mom-and-son company called Brooklyn Whatever.

    Mom, a social worker and son, a chef, started a family business to add more flavor to pickles, olives and nuts. The result: unique, assertively spiced, better-for-you snacks, garnishes, or for a relish tray.

    Or for gifts. We can’t think of a better house gift for hosts, combining flavor and fun. Shpickles and Shmolives will be our go-to house gifts for the forseable future.

    The line is all natural and certified kosher by Rabbi Dovid Chaoi. Shpickles and Shmolives are free of dairy, gluten, soy, sugar and wheat, making them vegan as well.
     
    SHPICKLES: PICKLED VEGETABLES

    Other companies make great pickle cucumbers. Brooklyn Whatever has started out with other pickled vegetables:

  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower & Beets
  • Jalapeño Peppers
  • Kale Slaw
  • Okra
  • String Beans
  •  
    We can’t choose favorites here: We like them all. And we feel so good about eating them: So much flavor, so few calories.
     
    SHMOLIVES: SPICED OLIVES

    Shmolives is a blend of seven different olives, marinated in a “secret mix” of herbs and spices that adhere to the olives, giving you a mouthful of zing with each bite.

    Made by hand in small batches “the old way”—stirring to coat the olives with wood spoons—they are a must for any olive lover.
     
    SHNUTS: SPICED NUTS

    Shnuts are a mix of almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans and walnuts—no peanuts.

    They’re sweet and savory: herbs and spices with a touch of brown sugar. Made with all natural ingredients, filled with “good fat,” a handful is a healthful snack.

    HEALTH NOTES: The USDA-approved heart-healthy nuts are almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. These nuts contain less than 4g of saturated fats per 50g. Walnuts have the highest amount of the heart-healthy alpha linolenic acid, which many studies show lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) levels.

    As with Shpickles and Shmolives, Shnuts are prepared by hand, roasted twice and flavored to perfection: the perfect “shnack.”

     

    Shpickles Brussels Sprouts

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    A sampling of Shpickles: Brussels Sprouts, Carrots and Cauliflower & Beets.

     
    Shpickles are $10 per 15-ounce jar, Shmolives are $15 per 15-ounce jar. Shnuts are not yet on the website, but should be there soon.

    Get yours at BrooklynWhatever.com.

    Plan ahead for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifting.

    Not to mention green gifting for St. Patrick’s Day, with Shpickles Brussels Sprouts, Jalapeños, Kale Slaw, Okra and String Beans.

      

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    RECIPE: Pickled Fennel (Fennel Pickles)

    Fennel

    A head of fennel. The white portion is the
    bulb, the feathery green tops/stems are the
    fronds. Photo courtesy Valerie Confections.

     

    We’ve always loved fennel in a salad (like cucumber salad or this Orange-Fennel Salad) or on a crudité plate. But we never thought to pickle it until we saw this recipe from Quinciple, which makes weekly deliveries of the freshest seasonal produce.

    Fennel makes such a charming, crunchy pickle that we began to make it as house gifts. It’s made without sugar, and is low in sodium: a win for everyone!

    Quinciple recommends the pickled fennel in and on:

  • Cheese plates
  • Ham sandwiches (we like it on other sandwiches too, including grilled cheese and burgers)
  • Potato salad (chop it finely)
  • Green salad (add some fresh herbs and use a bit of the pickling liquid as the acid in the dressing)
  •  
    RECIPE: PICKLED FENNEL

    Ingredients For 1 Pint

  • 1 head fennel
  • 2 strips orange zest, neatly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar (substitute cider vinegar)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  •  

    Preparation

    1. CUT off the fennel leaf stalks just above where the bulb ends and the fronds begin. Reserve 3-4 of the prettiest leaf fronds; wash and set aside.

    2. TRIM off the bottom of the bulb and, if bruised, the outer layer. Give the bulbs a quick rinse. Slice them in half lengthwise, then cut the fennel into ¼-inch-wide slices.

    3. PLACE the fennel fronds, zest and peppercorns into a clean pint jar, making sure they are arranged nicely against the glass. Add the fennel slices. Make sure there is ½” of headroom above the fennel.

    4. COMBINE the vinegar, water and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling brine over the fennel. Let cool, cover tightly with the lid and place in the fridge. The pickles will keep for about 2 weeks.
     
    FENNEL FACTS

    Fennel is in season from fall to early spring. It’s crunchy like celery, with a slight anise taste.

     

    Pickled Fennel

    Elegant and yummy fennel pickles. Photo and recipe courtesy Quinciple.

     
    A member of the parsley family, fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and celery (Petroselinum crispum) are botanical cousins, members of the same order* (Apiales) and family* (Apiaceae). Both are believed to be indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, growing wild before they were cultivated.

    Records of fennel’s use date back to about 1500 B.C.E, although it has been enjoyed by mankind for much longer.

    Fennel is highly aromatic and flavorful, with both culinary and medicinal uses. The bulb and stalks resemble celery, the leaves look like dill (Anethum graveolens, also of the same order and family), and the aroma and flavor resemble sweet licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabraa, a totally different order [Fabales] and family [Fabaceae]).

    Fennel can be substituted for celery in recipes when an additional nuance of flavor is desired. We also enjoy it as part of a crudité plate. The fronds make a lovely plate garnish, and can be dried and used as herbs.

    Fennel seeds are a popular spice, for baking, bean dishes, brines, fish, pork, sausages and much more. We especially like them in cole slaw and cucumber salad. Plain and sugar-coated fennel seeds are used as a spice and an after-meal mint in India and Pakistan.
     
    ___________________________________________
    *In case you don’t remember plant taxonomy from high school biology, here’s a refresher.

      

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    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Just Mayo, Egg-Free Mayonnaise

    Just Mayo Bottles

    Crab Cakes Just Mayo

    French Fries Sriracha Mayo

    Top photo: the Just Mayo line. Second photo: Crab cake with Chipotle Just Mayo. Third photo: Sriracha Just Mayo with fries. Photos courtesy Just Mayo. Bottom photo: Grilled Mexican corn (elote) with Original Just Mayo. Photos courtesy Hampton Creek.

     

    The Just Mayo line from Hampton Creek has been getting a lot of attention since its debut in 2013.

    The San Francisco start-up focuses on foods with plant-based egg alternatives. Its first two products are Just Mayo and Just Cookie Dough, with Just Dressing, Just Pancake Mix and an eggless, plant-based scramble on the horizon.

    The full-fat mayonnaise alternative is made from expeller-pressed canola oil so for starters, they’re cholesterol free, allergy friendly and more sustainable (no animals to pollute the environment). The ingredients are non-GMO.

    The line is vegan, but you won’t find that designation promoted on the current product label. Rather, it’s marketed as healthier, better tasting and more sustainable for the planet.

    The brand did such a good job of attracting attention that Unilever, the parent company of mayo megabrand Hellmann’s, filed a lawsuit against Hampton Creek in 2014, since government specifications dictate that mayonnaise is made with eggs. The FDA was tipped off, as well.

    Last month, it was reported that the issues have been resolved, by changing the product label. The new label describes the product as egg-free and non-GMO, and explains that “Just” in the product name means means “guided by reason, justice and fairness.” The brand will not claim to be cholesterol-free or heart-healthy. Here’s a report of the FDA’s decision.

    The new label is not yet out, but we’re guessing the image of a whole egg will be removed, too.
     
    JUST MAYO’S FOUR FLAVORS

    Just Mayo is made in four flavors: Original, Chipotle, Garlic and Sriracha. The flavored varieties especially add zing.

    So what are the ingredients?

    Canola oil, water, white vinegar and 2% or less of organic sugar, salt, pea protein, spices, modified food starch, lemon juice concentrate, fruit and vegetable juice for color) and calcium disodium EDTA to preserve freshness.

    If you have a sharp eye you’ve noticed the substitution: pea protein, a relatively new ingredient that is used as an alternative to whey protein in cheeses and yogurt. Made from a specific variety of the Canadian yellow pea, it has a neutral taste.

    And speaking of taste: In our blind taste test, about half of the testers preferred Original Just Mayo to Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise.
     
    USES

    Just Mayo can be used as a substitute for mayonnaise anywhere. For example:

  • Burgers and sandwiches
  • Dips
  • Mayonnaise-bound salads: carrot salad, cole slaw, egg salad, pasta salad, potato salad, tuna and seafood salads, etc.
  • Salad dressing for green salads
  • Sauces and plate garnishes
  • Anywhere you use mayonnaise (check the website for basic recipes: cole slaw, potato salad, salad dressings and other favorites)
  •  
    A FEEL GOOD PRODUCT

    In addition to the environmental benefit (no animal pollution), we feel better about egg-free products. Much as we love eggs, most sold in the U.S. are laid by hens raised in cruel conditions. About 88% are housed in tiny battery cages.

    Just Mayo is available at grocery stores nationwide, including Costco, Safeway, Walmart and Whole Foods Market. You can also use the website store locator. The product is available in 8 ounce (SRP $3.99) and 16 ounce (SRP $4.49) bottles.
     
    AT THE END OF THE DAY…

    While we enjoyed Just Mayo enough to make it a Top Pick, we’ll stick with our personal favorite (and eggy) mayonnaise, Lemonaise from The Ojai Cook (here’s our review).

    We love the added nuance of a flavored mayonnaise, and Lemonaise is made in Original, Light, Cha Cha Chipotle, Fire And Spice (tomato, cayenne, cumin) Garlic Herb (basil and tarragon), Green Dragon (mustard, cilantro, wasabi) and Latin (chiles, lime, cumin).
     
      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Preserved Meyer Lemons

    In addition to other splendid winter citrus, it’s Meyer Lemon season, through March.

    Meyer lemons are much sweeter and more flavorful than the Bearss and Lisbon varieties commonly found in American grocery stores (here are the different types of lemons). They have much less acid, making the juice sweeter and brighter.

    Here’s the history of Meyer lemons, discovered as an ornamental houseplant in China; along with how to use them, how to grow your own and a delicious recipe for Meyer Lemon Sorbet.

    Today’s tip: Make preserved lemons, for yourself and as gifts. If you read this when Meyer lemons are not in season, grab any supermarket lemons.

    Preserved lemon is a condiment made of whole lemons that have been pickled in a brine of water, lemon juice, salt and sometimes, spices (essentially they’re pickled lemons, and the same treatment makes the pickled limes beloved of Amy March in Little Women).

    The lemons then ferment at room temperature for weeks, or even months. The result is a concentrated and earthy lemon flavor without too much tartness when made with regular lemons; and even sweeter when made with Meyer lemons.

       

    Meyer Lemon Tree

    Meyer lemons were discovered as house- plants in China. You can continue the tradition in your own home. This mini tree is from BrighterBlooms.com.

     
    Preserved Meyer lemons are an umami food that have been called an “amazingly tasty ingredient,” guaranteed to convert you to their allure.

    The salt mellows out the bitterness in the rind and pith, and punches up lemonness, which is often described as “sunny”—just what’s needed during gray winter days.

    WAYS TO USE PRESERVED LEMONS

    Preserved lemons are popular in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisines. But you don’t have to make a tagine; you can use this bright condiment in Western cuisines, with anything from meatballs to tortellini.

    Preserved lemons can replace regular lemons—juice, slices or zest—in any savory recipe, from meat (beef, chicken, lamb, stews) and poultry to fish and seafood (a perfect pairing), grains (think beyond couscous to any cooked grains you enjoy), vegetarian stews, even salad dressing.

     

    Preserved Lemons

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    It takes just 5 minutes to prepare preserved
    lemons. Then they sit for 3-4 weeks in the
    fridge until soft and succulent. Photos and
    recipe courtesy Good Eggs | San Francisco.

     

    PRESERVED LEMON RECIPES

    From TheNibble.com

  • Dips: Add a fine dice to guacamole, hummus and salsa. Try one teaspon per cup, and adjust to your preference.
  • Israeli Salad: Preserve lemon is added by North African Jews.
  • Garnish for Fried Green Tomatoes.
  • Grain salads and pilafs: Add a dice of preserved lemon to barley, farro, rice, quinoa and other grains.
  • Kebabs: Add them to the skewers of any meat, fish/seafood or vegetable kabobs. Try these Moroccan Potato Kebabs.
  • Moroccan Baked Chicken & Olives is a classic. You can substitute fish fillets for the chicken.
  • Pesto and other sauces: Start with a teaspoon or less. You want to add mystery rather than wallop.
  • Pasta: Toss any pasta with olive oil, sliced garlic and diced or sliced preserved lemon. Here’s a recipe for Tortellini With Bay Leaf & Preserved Lemon.
  • Soup Garnish: Slice and serve in ramekins along with chopped cilantro, croutons, green onions, chopped parsley and tomatoes, so people can customize their bowls of soup (here’s a recipe for Tunisian Chickpea Soup).
  • Stews of any kind: Add a tablespoon or more to taste, even if no lemon is specified in the original recipe.
  • Vinaigrette: Use a blender or food processor to combine diced preserved lemon with olive oil and vinegar or fresh lemon juice.
  •  
    Here are more recipes from Bon Appetit and the Huffington Post.

    What About Pizza?

    Of course! No recipe list would be complete without a pizza with preserved lemon.

    It can be as simple as fresh basil, smoked mozzarella and preserved lemon; or fresh ricotta, preserved lemon, basil and za’atar*. Trust us: These are well worth making.

     
     
    RECIPE: PRESERVED MEYER LEMONS

    It requires just 5 minutes of active time to make preserved lemons. Then, they sit and ferment for 3-4 weeks.

    Instead of making them in a quart jar, you can use two pint jars and give one as a gift.

    Ingredients For 1 Quart

  • 6 Meyer lemons, cut into quarters
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • Juice of 3 Meyer lemons†*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried chile
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the lemons, chile and bay leaves and salt in a bowl, then pack them tightly into a sterilized quart jar with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the juice then seal the jar.

    2. LET sit at room temperature for three days, turning the jar over once or twice a day. After three days, place the jar in the refrigerator for 3 weeks, until the rind has softened. They’re then ready to use.

    If you want to give them as gifts before the three weeks are up, tie a ribbon around the jar with a tag that tells the date on which the lemons will be ready; and that they’ll keep for a year in the fridge.
     
    *Also spelled zahtar, za’atar is a spice blend that is very popular in Middle Eastern cuisines. It is actually the word for Lebanese oregano, a member of the mint family Lamiaceaea, and known since antiquity as hyssop. The za’atar blend includes spices well-known in European cuisines, with the unique components of Lebanese oregano and sumac berries, which impart a tart, fruity flavor that differentiates za’atar from other spice blends. Traditional ingredients include marjoram, oregano, thyme, toasted sesame seeds, savory and sumac. Za’atar is used to season meat and vegetables, mixed with olive oil and spread on pita wedges or flatbread, added to hummus, and for a modern touch, sprinkled on pizza, especially ones with feta cheese.

    †You can first zest the lemons and use the zest in anything else you make today, from grains and vegetables to hot tea or sparkling water.

      

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