Some Like It Hot and Salty

September 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG likes fiery food. So, a stocked larder of hot sauces is essential. HG’s essential blazers include Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (better than Tabasco and the ONLY hot sauce to be used in preparing Buffalo Chicken wings); Frank’s Red Hot Sweet Chile Sauce (essential with dim sum); Sriracha (best when squirted into bowls of pho-like Asian soups); Harissa (middle eastern food necessity). Two super potent sauces HG adores: Chrug (phonetic spelling as HG can’t make out the Hebrew brand name), a Yemeni/Israeli hot sauce that Yossi M., HG’s admired brother-in-law, brings to HG from his annual visit to Israel and Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp Sauce. The bottle of Chrug has a stern looking bearded patriarch on its label and the Chinese killer sauce has a picture of a dour unsmiling woman. Food writer Pete Meehan notes that one shouldn’t feel sorry for the pictured woman (founder and owner of the sauce company) as her net worth is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. HG is not fond of sweet (except in the aforementioned sweet chili sauce) but likes salty. A favored snack (or appetizer) is a dish of jarred Piquillo peppers adorned with anchovies and a splash of olive oil. HG always wondered why Canadian markets keep their tinned anchovies refrigerated while US markets keep anchovies on the shelves with tuna, sardines, etc. HG found the answer in a recent communication from Zingerman’s, the midwest’s answer to Zabar’s: If anchovies aren’t kept refrigerated, they get soft and lose flavor. Sardines and tuna increase in flavor when they are stored in the pantry. Go figure.

Hot, Hotter, Scorching

July 16th, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Some like it hot. Count HG among that number. HG likes food prepared with spicy ingredients or accompanied and enhanced by condiments packing much heat. HG/BSK have a kitchen arsenal that attests to love of culinary fire. There are the peppers: White pepper (ground); black pepper (in the form of peppercorns); smoked black pepper (ground); Aleppo pepper (red and vibrant from Turkey); Berbere (very hot); Italian red pepper flakes; Szechuan peppercorns; whole dried red chiles used in Chinese and Mexican cooking. Powders: Red chile (medium and hot); Chipotle (dark and smoky); Coleman’s English Mustard Powder. Condiments (in bottles, cans and tubes): Frank’s Louisiana Hot Sauce; Frank’s Red Hot Ketchup; Frank’s Red Hot Sweet Chile; Chinese Sweet Chile Sauce; Fire Oil (Roasted sesame oil mixed with very hot chile. This is used in flavoring Dan Dan noodles); Sriracha; Matouk’s West Indian Hot Sauce (An HG favorite, it’s from Trinidad); Tabasco (for Bloody Marys); Queen Majesty Scotch Bonnet & Ginger Hot Sauce (fiery stuff from Jamaica by way of Brooklyn); Wasabi (for Japanese food); Sambal Oelek (Indonesian); Chinese Chile Garlic Sauce; Harissa (for Middle Eastern food); Chipotle peppers in sauce (also various bottled “picante” salsas as well as pickled JalapeƱo peppers and Italian cherry peppers and horseradish). HG’s secret heat weapon (served only to masochists or heat veterans) is skhug. This is bottled hot sauce originated by Yemenite Jews. Just a tiny dab will give food a delicious blast of smoke and fire. (HG’s thoughtful brother-in-law, Yossi M., brings this back from Israel for HG). A wonderful hot sauce is chile de arbol. This is served (upon request) at New Mexico’s Sopaipilla Factory restaurant. HG adds some to a bowl of menudo to banish chill, gloom and hangover. It works. Viva la vida picante!!

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Queen Majesty’s Scotch Bonnet & Ginger Hot Sauce

July 18th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Over the past years HG has lauded a few hot sauces — Sriracha, Matouk’s West Indian Flambeau Sauce, Frank’s Red Hot and the old stand-by, Tabasco. Great hot sauces are “improvers,” a concentrated burst of piquant flavor that help lead a dish to the Promised Land by elevating the essential flavors rather than overwhelming them. Well, HG is happy to welcome a new Hot Sauce to the pantheon of tongue tingling heroes: Queen Majesty’s Scotch Bonnet & Ginger Hot Sauce. Handmade in Brooklyn (where all the good food seems to be coming from), the sauce blends the scorching, yet fruity, flavors of Scotch Bonnet peppers with the zing of ginger. The result is a highly nuanced hot sauce with pronounced Caribbean notes that works especially well with meaty stews like oxtail or robust curries. HG has also found that a couple drops of QM’s sauce in a Bloody Mary takes that classic cocktail to epic heights.

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Southern Comfort (The Food, Not That Sweet Alcohol Crap).

March 17th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

HG spent some early formative years in the Deep South and has never lost his taste for comforting, spicy, nutritionally incorrect southern cooking. The foundation for many great dishes is stone ground grits. You can cook grits in milk or stock (depending on whether you’re using them for breakfast or dinner). You can stir in cheese or gently sauteed garlic. An unbeatable comfort breakfast is grits topped with poached eggs and bacon.

HG first tasted shrimp and grits (with Tasso ham) at the late Soul Kitchen in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. The shrimp had been cooked in a dark, spicy New Orleans roux and then poured over buttery, creamy grits. Yowzah, Yowzah, boys and girls, mighty fine eating. Hit Google for a load of shrimp and grits recipes and choose one heavy on spice. HG also likes fried catfish with grits (for an HG recipe Click Here) Add some collard greens (or garlicky sauteed spinach) to your plate. Dot the grits and spinach with a bit of butter. Pass the Tabasco or Frank’s Hot Sauce. Let the good times roll.