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Jenise

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Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jenise » Fri Apr 12, 2019 1:34 pm

Food & Wine or Bon Appetit, not sure which, recently had a clever and informative short article wherein they revealed, in short blurbs, how several chefs answered a question something along the lines of "What's your secret sauce?" Only, it wasn't really sauce-related, I just can't think how they put it. The point was that so many chefs have some seasoning blend or spice or sauce or some hip-pocket thing they couldn't live without, usually home-made and kept in a jar, always near at hand.

GUILTY. I keep a jar of vinaigrette in the fridge. Almost like a sourdough starter, it's always there and I both take from it and add to it on a fairly constant basis. The original was about 1/3 cider vinegar and 2/3 neutral oil, with plenty of salt and crushed garlic. The oil I drain off tuna (this is the tuna I canned with Tuna Club) goes straight into that vinaigrette jar. Sometimes I feel puckish and add a few herbs. But it's always there, always ready to go.

It's perfect on its own but it's a perfect base for so many other things. I add lemon juice, more garlic and parmesan to bowl of romaine and now I have a caesar. Or I might make a Moroccan cabbage salad, for instance. In the bottom of a bowl I'll add two tablespoons of this dressing, then a tablespoon of mayonnaise and some berbere. Once emulsified, in go handfuls of napa cabbage sliced in a thin chiffonade. The dressing coats the cabbage nicely and the berbere adds a mysterious 'What IS that?' kind of flavor (and heat) with a long, satisfying aftertaste from the fenugreek element. Last night some went into a little bowl with some dried French basil and cherry tomato halves. I let those marinate a bit and then scooped them over grilled halves of endive, and that was our starter salad. That little jar is the lifeblood of my kitchen.

Do you have a 'secret sauce'?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Rahsaan

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Rahsaan » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:54 pm

Interesting. I never thought to keep vinaigrette ready-made, although my mother used to do that when I was a kid.

Not sure I have one 'secret' ingredient. I have been adding bits of coconut oil as a base for various dishes, and it makes fish extra succulent. Soy sauce is also a standard flavor builder. And then the array of vinegars..
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Robin Garr

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Robin Garr » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:59 pm

Thinking about this, I have several secret ingredients, and they all add spicy heat ... yet I don't use them to make dishes fiery, I use them judiciously to kick up the umami quotient without in any way dominating the flavor of the dish. Specifically, depending on context, chiles en adobo, berbere seasoning, sambal oelek, and <gasp> Heinz 57 Chili Sauce.
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John Treder

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by John Treder » Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:39 pm

I guess mine would be Spice Islands Italian Herb Seasoning. I used to be able to get it at any supermarket, but either the stores around here don't carry Spice Islands any more, or they don't carry that particular seasoning. I have to get it on line now.
I use it in salad dressings, spaghetti sauce, over sauteed fish, in marinades, etc.
My grandmothers used to use it, and that goes back a ways.
I've checked out other brands of similar stuff, including Penzey and Savory, and never found "the same" balance. And I haven't been able to recreate it for myself.
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jeff Grossman » Sun Apr 14, 2019 3:29 am

I don't have one technique for all things. The closest I come to a secret sauce is a spice blend from Wine Forest that is a mix of black pepper, juniper berries, and orange peel. On any meat dish, replace/augment the amount of black pepper with this mix. (In similar usage, I have a grinder filled with Grains of Paradise.)
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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Rahsaan » Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:23 pm

Robin Garr wrote: berbere seasoning...


I have a big bag of this my friend gave me direct from Ethiopia. The flavor is gorgeous and he says he uses it in everything. But I am more judicious in where it fits. Still, I agree the umami addition is great.
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Howie Hart

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Howie Hart » Tue Apr 16, 2019 5:50 am

Chef Joseph Carey's dry rub and BBQ sauce are two of my favorites. Aside from the ribs and brisket applications, the dry rub is a great seasoning for dirty rice & beans, and a bit of the bbq sauce (along with bacon) adds a nice flavor to baked beans.
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Jo Ann Henderson

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jo Ann Henderson » Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:41 pm

I'm a hot vinegar person. Usually have one on hand, usually homemade. Right now my go to flavor for dressing up veggies and salads is Nam Pla. Really into SE Asian flavors. Always use the poaching oil from my tuna conserve that I make every few months. That garlicky, lemony, peppery, fishy residual oil is great on skillet grilled baguette as a quick breakfast with a cup of tea. Or, is a great starting base for a vinaigrette. If all else fails, there's always Frank's Louisiana Hot Sauce, especially good on fried chicken!
"...To undersalt deliberately in the name of dietary chic is to omit from the music of cookery the indispensable bass line over which all tastes and smells form their harmonies." -- Robert Farrar Capon
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Peter May

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Peter May » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:49 pm

Jo Ann Henderson wrote: If all else fails, there's always Frank's Louisiana Hot Sauce, especially good on fried chicken!


Isn't Frank's the sauce that was originally used at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, to coat the chicken wings that became internationally famous as Buffalo Wings?


I think Jenise was calling for home made sauces but I always have Fat Man Chilli sauces, the coriander based green saucefor flavour with a tinge of heat and Numero Uno. for taste and heat.

And then there is the (non-hot) incomparable spicy HP Sauce
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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Dale Williams » Wed Apr 17, 2019 5:28 pm

I think it's Franks Red Hot, not Franks Louisiana (though Franks is basically Louisiana style).

I go in spurts- za'aatar, berbere, a basil vinaigrette I freeze in cubes,.fish sauce, and many more. And we usually have a mustard/shallot vinaigrette always available., But I am probably most guilty of overuse of sesame oil - when undecided what to do with spinach, broccoli, green beans and more, when it doubt sesame.
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Jo Ann Henderson

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jo Ann Henderson » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:07 pm

Peter May wrote:And then there is the (non-hot) incomparable spicy HP Sauce

You and my husband would get along well together. HP is his go to sauce when he wants to go exotic. It’s right up there behind ketchup for him! :evil:
"...To undersalt deliberately in the name of dietary chic is to omit from the music of cookery the indispensable bass line over which all tastes and smells form their harmonies." -- Robert Farrar Capon
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Jeff Grossman

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jeff Grossman » Thu Apr 18, 2019 2:04 am

Dale Williams wrote:But I am probably most guilty of overuse of sesame oil - when undecided what to do with spinach, broccoli, green beans and more, when it doubt sesame.

Sesame oil is good stuff, and like hot sauces, the brands differ. Of all things, I think Roland's was the best. I now have a bottle of Sushi Chef brand and it's watery by comparison.

There's a place called The Filling Station that sells a lovely butternut squash oil. For use when a warm, nutty flavor is needed.
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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Robin Garr » Thu Apr 18, 2019 10:14 am

Jeff Grossman wrote:Sesame oil is good stuff, and like hot sauces, the brands differ. Of all things, I think Roland's was the best. I now have a bottle of Sushi Chef brand and it's watery by comparison.

I've been pretty happy with Whole Foods' own 365 brand, with the side note that they make a regular and a roasted sesame oil. The latter is dark brown and very flavorful, and definitely my preference.
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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jenise » Thu Apr 18, 2019 4:37 pm

Rahsaan wrote:
Robin Garr wrote: berbere seasoning...


I have a big bag of this my friend gave me direct from Ethiopia. The flavor is gorgeous and he says he uses it in everything. But I am more judicious in where it fits. Still, I agree the umami addition is great.


I've told this story before, but I became a fan of berbere when for about two years I had an Armenian roommate who grew up in Ethiopia. Family would send the spice over. The American versions I've had aren't even close, though I like Whole Foods' version a lot. Anyway, one thing Vic and his whole family did with it was make a paste with lemon juice and olive oil. That was in the fridge--a secret sauce--at all times. It was occasionally spread on meat like a wet rub before grilling, but most of the time we would spread it on bread or a thick slice of cheddar cheese. To die for.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jenise » Thu Apr 18, 2019 4:50 pm

Jo Ann, I'm just like you. I get on jags where I just love and can't get enough of a certain flavor. At the moment, thanks to a recent trip to Spain and a restaurant in Kauai called Bar Acuda that has strong Spanish leanings, I am liking smoked paprika (pimenton) a lot. Right now, on the stove, is the last of the bean soup I made last week from the corned beef broth of the week before. I've added frozen lima beans, some leftover double-smoked sausage from dinner a few nights ago, pimenton, and cayenne pepper. I'll serve it in tall mugs with a handful of lightly dressed slivered cabbage on top, like a posole. It will probably be the best cup of soup yet from what's been a great pot.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Dale Williams » Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:28 pm

For sesame oil I'm not happy with any of the brands at our supermarket, luckily we have a Korean superstore (HMart) we frequent where the sesame and sesame oil section is probably 15 feet long, with dozens (if not hundreds) of options. But I usually just get Kaboya. Ive never liked much of anything from Sushi Chef, not surprised re your reaction.
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Rahsaan

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Rahsaan » Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:58 pm

Jenise wrote:berbere...a paste with lemon juice and olive oil..


Great idea. Thanks for that!!
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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Paul Winalski » Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:26 pm

I make berbere spice mixture (minus the paprika) by the cupful since the amount needed for a single dish (such as doro wat) is about 1/8 teaspoon of each spice and is hard to measure out accurately. I can't wait to try the lemon juice/olive oil paste idea.

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Jason Hagen

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jason Hagen » Tue Apr 30, 2019 3:07 pm

Some type of acid. Lemon, red wine vinegar, white vinegar.

Sometimes a little lime ponzu.

Huey Fong's Chili Garlic Sauce.

Miso paste.

Occasional on steaks, I'll just use Salt Lick Dry Rub.


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Jenise

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jenise » Tue Apr 30, 2019 4:14 pm

Jason, good to hear from you! Since you answered this, I just posted on a bunch of old Calif pinots and a Clos Pepe chardonnay. When writing the latter, I was trying to remember if SRH was the Calif pinot region you once declared hatred for. :)
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jason Hagen » Tue Apr 30, 2019 5:49 pm

Jenise wrote:Jason, good to hear from you! Since you answered this, I just posted on a bunch of old Calif pinots and a Clos Pepe chardonnay. When writing the latter, I was trying to remember if SRH was the Calif pinot region you once declared hatred for. :)



Hah. No SLH is not my favorite. I know they have made a change there and Wes is no longer making the wine but I loved visiting there and letting Wes just run with stories and talking about the soils.


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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jenise » Tue Apr 30, 2019 7:46 pm

Jason Hagen wrote:
Jenise wrote:Jason, good to hear from you! Since you answered this, I just posted on a bunch of old Calif pinots and a Clos Pepe chardonnay. When writing the latter, I was trying to remember if SRH was the Calif pinot region you once declared hatred for. :)


Hah. No SLH is not my favorite. I know they have made a change there and Wes is no longer making the wine but I loved visiting there and letting Wes just run with stories and talking about the soils.

Jason


I don't even think it's still Clos Pepe. It was bought, or was owned by, the Robert Hall brand and they decided to turn it into something else. But yeah, I loved Wes. Spent a day there picking grapes with him and I never stopped laughing. What a great storyteller.

How are you doing?
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jason Hagen » Wed May 01, 2019 12:49 pm

Jenise wrote:
How are you doing?


I am doing alright. It can be very up and down right now. Thanks for asking.

J
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Jenise

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Re: Your 'secret sauce'?

by Jenise » Wed May 01, 2019 3:43 pm

I know it's precarious, and there's no reason to explain. I basically just wanted you to know I hadn't forgotten about what you're going through. I'm glad you come in to chat from time to time.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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