Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hot and Salty

Hot and Salty what?

Sriracha. The Rooster. Cock Sauce. The good stuff I pour over my pizza and pho. I'm a big fan of their sister sauce, Sambal Oelek. Good to stir in soups.

I read an enthusiastic blog post by Joshua Bosel at Serious Eats about Sriracha from Scratch. I mean, really, just look at those pretty red jalapenos.
All it takes is the marvel of fermenting pureed chilies, garlic, sugar, salt, vinegar. That's right, this funky hotness is so easily forgettable as a fermented product that we consume. For me, it's a strange thought. It sends shudders of the taste of kimchi down my spine, the rotting cabbage emerging from clay pots buried in the earth.

Articles upon articles do this sauce justice as to its versatility and flavor, and of course, awesomeness. (Even a cookbook, The Sriracha Cookbook.)

It made me think about one of my favorite recent nonfiction reads, Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky.

It was first recommended to me years ago on a cross country train ride from Chicago to San Francisco. It reads like a series of historical anecdotes, and sometimes very textbooky without preaching themes and summaries. It goes around the world, chronicling the evolution of salt mines and salt works in China, Italy and the like, and how those societies lived and died by their longevity. It covers curing, pickling, and fermented fish pastes and delicacies like kimchi. There's also a short section on the American-made Tabasco Pepper sauce for the patriots in us. It's an interesting read if you'd ever want to get a better idea of what it takes to get Morton's Table Salt or that fancy Pink Himalayan Salt to your kitchen counter.

Fun Fact: You know why French Gray Sea Salt tastes so good? Because there's dirt in it. True story.


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