Friday, September 3, 2010

Kick-ass Sauce

Yea, it's a silly name. But let me explain a little. My fiance is an ABC (american born chinese). She likes glazes on her meat- sweet glazes. I tend to dislike sweet glazes. They tend to be cloying and have little flavor. If I'm going to have a glaze, I prefer something savory or spicy. Joanna is more sensitive to heat in food than I am (I'm pretty sure there are entire nations that combined are still more sensitive to spicy than I am) so I tend to avoid making food we share spicy.

Seemingly unrelated, I have been on the search for many years for the perfect barbeque sauce. In my mind, I have a flavor which is what I think of when I think barbeque sauce. For many years, I have tried many, many different varieties from the store. Some would come close, but were always off. Not that some weren't excellent (and Choo-Choo's barbeque sauce will be missed, that's for certain) but they weren't quite right. Generally, they are too sweet, or have too much bullshit fake flavoring added, or I can taste the preservatives or whatever

No, I am not giving the recipe for my dream sauce. I never attempted to make it. I wouldn't even be sure how to start.

As I said before, I like a savory glaze, while Joanna likes sweet ones. I started playing with making my own glaze/barbeque sauce about a year ago. It took a lot of trials. The biggest hurdle was my shift in philosophy. I would make something I thought was pleasant, then my fiance would taste it and not like it, insisting I make it sweeter. Attempting to do so always gave something that tasted okay, but wasn't great. The problem was that I was either making a sweet sauce, or a savory sauce that had something sweet added, and it wasn't right. What I needed to do was to invent a sauce that by its very nature was both sweet and savory. And that's what I'm writing about.

I do not have exact amounts for this. I always adjust to taste. One thing to note- don't worry too much about it tasting perfect. I've discovered to my happy surprise that even if it isn't quite right, once I coat the burgers or ribs with it and cook them, it still tastes the same- fantastic. So give this recipe a try, I think you'll be pleased.

I use a medium saucepan on medium heat. To it I add ~1/2 cup of honey. I then add a cup of Heinz ketchup. You will need to add more ketchup later, maybe a quarter cup or so. You don't want the honey flavor to be too strong. Make sure to stir fairly frequently and make sure the mixture is homogenous before adding any other ingredients. The honey will take a little while before it dissolves into the ketchup, but it will, I promise. To this, add 4-5 cloves of garlic. I use my garlic press; I don't like my hands to stink for a week. Now, take wasabi powder (if you can get your hands on real wasabi root and a sharkskin grater, more power to you) and and in a small bowl mix with some water. Do not add the powder directly tot he sauce- it'll just dissolve in and be overwhelmed. I like to use about a heaping teaspoon or so. I also find it easier to add enough water so that it isn't its customary paste, but instead is more fluid. This allows you to add it more easily tot he sauce and it dossolves more easily. Leave the wasabi alone for five minutes to let the flavor develope, then stir into the sauce. Add a dash of tobasco sauce. This will make enough to coat a rack of ribs.

Be careful about overhating the sauce, or heating it too long. Doing so will enhance the flavor fo the vinegar in the ketchup, and give you an acidic sauce. Taste when you finish and add more of whatever ingredients you need. Again, don't stress out too much- it'll taste great. I don't add mustard- again, the vinegar content keeps me cautious. I tried it but didn't find that it added anything to the sauce. I've heard people express surprise that I cook my sauce, but I think it helps the flavors to really melt together, especially the garlic. If you find that you have added too much ketchup (it happens) you can easily just add more honey and such to taste.

Alternately- you can try sauteing the minced garlic into the saucepan, then add the honey and other ingredients. I cannot honestly say that I have noticed any difference in flavor or texture, so you may as well just make your life easier and add it later. Feel free to add a little salt and pepper if you like. I hope you folks will give this sauce a try- it is really easy to make, and delicious. The wasabi also (maybe just in my mind) makes the meat a little more tender and just compliments the rest of the flavors so fantastically.

Hm. I do have powdered chinese mustard. Might be worth playing with that a little and seeing what turns up.

If you like this recipe, please post and let me know your impressions. Or if you hate it, that's okay too. This glaze, incidentally, caramelizes beautifully. This last week, I madea rack of ribs with Joanna. We were both very hungry, and the ribs came our beautifully tender and juicy and just perfect. Joanna was dissapointed, however, that they really hadn't caramelized at all. She wanted to put them back int he oven longer, but I worried that they would dry out. So, I whipped out my blowtorch (what, your kitchen has no blowtorch?) and set about with it. Everyone ended up very happy.