Sunday, June 10, 2007

Guest Writer! Using Master Sauce

Happy Sunday! This morning, I will be testing a new process for the Veggie Breakfast Patties. They are selling really well, and we can't keep up with our current process. I guess that is a good problem, but it is certainly a little stressful. Anyway, I am also hoping to make a HUGE pot of fish stock (Remember stock? There will be a post about all of those kitchen scraps that some of you have been saving and freezing. Very soon. I promise.) I'd also like to write a lot about the markets; they have been wonderfully successful. We've been told that there is a 'buzz' about FolkFoods. So a post and pictures about all of that is on its way.

In lieu of that post, though, I am going to post something that our good friend Jenn wrote for us awhile ago. We are hoping that Jenn will write a regular column once we get the website up and running. She is a creative and adventurous cook who has used and consumed more Master Sauce than anyone, including Shana and I. Her cooking displays how it is a master sauce, rather than just a hot sauce. (Jenn, I have an extra large jar for you, waiting on our dining table!)

How FolkFoods Master Sauce Saved My Culinary Ass

It was a busy time in my life: I had just started graduate school, and I lived 35 minutes outside of town. Food, although it’s always been high on my priority list, had taken a backseat to other things because of schoolwork, the demands of a long commute, and the lack of a nearby grocery. I had become, against my will, a habit-cook. I could prepare a meal on autopilot, as long as I had all the old standby ingredients on hand. Take away my frozen flour tortillas and pre-cooked chicken sausages, and I’d freak. It was a slow change: the slide from culinary adventurer to kitchen bore was almost imperceptible day to day. But one day I realized that I had to break away from the endless variations of leftover-packed quesadillas and uninspired, whatever’s-in-the-fridge pasta sautés. One night, I stared down at my plate of penne with random vegetables in white wine garlic sauce and said, “I can’t eat this stuff anymore.” My partner breathed a sigh of relief. Turns out, he’d come to this epiphany weeks before, but kept his feelings to himself for fear that I’d take offense and stop cooking altogether. “What do we do now?” we asked each other. For a week, we survived on cereal and peanut butter-slathered crackers. And then, that weekend, there was a miracle.

We were throwing a barbeque potluck, and Jason showed up with a small jar of a dark, rich brown something. “I want you guys to taste my newest creation,” he said. “It’s FolkFoods Master Sauce.” He called it “master sauce” because, while it had a spicy kick, the complexity of the flavor made its potential uses much more diverse than your typical hot sauce. After I placed that first tentative dollop on the tip of my tongue, I knew my problems were solved. Jason’s master sauce spun me out of my culinary doldrums. Soon I was putting it in everything from scrambled eggs to vegetable stir-fry. It even resurrected my good old whatever-I-find-in-the-fridge pasta sauté. (I have yet to get bored of my old standby a second time.) So I want to share the miracle with all of you: In an ongoing column, I’m going to share exciting and surprising ways to use FolkFoods master sauce to breathe life into your own cooking.

My first suggestion: Fish! Fish of any kind. (You’re only limited by your geographical location, your own personal taste, your moral stance on industry practices, and environmental and health concerns about fish farming.) I do two things with master sauce to liven up fish dishes: With flaky, thin fish fillets like tilapia, I smother the fillets with about a tablespoon of master sauce each, and then I dredge the fillets in a mix of rice flour and salt. Then I fry them in an oil and butter mix. It’s good with slices of lime on the side. You can use regular flour if you don’t have rice flour; the only difference is that rice flour is lighter and makes for a crispier coating on the fish. With thicker, steaky fish like mahi-mahi, I squeeze some lime juice on the fish and then slather it with master sauce. At this point, I either grill the fish or broil it. Something happens to the master sauce when it’s exposed to the intense dry heat: it gets condensed and extra savory, creating a yummy coating on the outside of the fish. If you happen to think of it, marinating the fish steaks for a little before cooking while will help infuse more of the master sauce flavors into the fish. And by the way, I once heard Mark Bittman, author of the invaluable tome How to Cook Everything, reveal in a radio interview that marinating any meat for longer than 20 minutes is completely unnecessary. So there! Victory for the spontaneous, discombobulated cooks of the world!

(Jason's Note: That isn't actually Jenn. That is another good friend of ours, Rebecca. I wanted to put a picture into this post and fish seemed appropriate. Rebecca and her partner Chapin have helped to organize a local fish share for a few of us, where we get fresh, sustainably grown fish every other week. We are slowly learning to clean and fillet fish. As for now, Chapin gets the patience award; I generally wind up just hacking away. Either way, we have wonderful fish to accompany the Master Sauce!)


Rebecca Grannis said...

because comments make all bloggers feel special. I love the idea of master sauce on tilapia. As a matter of fact I am going to make some right now. As I write this Jason has two large kettles of fish stock simmering in the back yard. We have accumulated a lot of fish carcass over the past couple months. The bubbling cauldrons of fish heads looks pretty cool and smells yummy. Can't wait to make chowder!! with master sauce!!

Anonymous said...

as much as i truly believe jenn is an exceptional cook -- the idea that marinating anything longer than 20 minutes is waste of time is crazy. this is true for most fish but is not true for most other animal proteins -- some deserving absorption times of 10 hours or more. your sauce sounds wonderful by the way!