|Food Hunting is not just about daring, outward-bound, gung-ho jaunts into regions where tourists fear to tread.
Collected samples require tasting, recipe testing and assessment for practical use. Questions I must ask himself are: Does the ingredient in question travel well? How can the original flavour best be preserved? In what form would it best be presented to chefs and consumers.
Some answers are simply a matter of pure science but tasting and experimenting in a kitchen is work that I must do for myself. This can involve hours of stirring, steaming, and sipping at the stove while I use some creative imagination to try and work out how a potential new product will react under different cooking conditions and in combination with other foods.
It’s hard work but it’s also a lot of fun and I always benefit greatly by gaining a full understanding of the ingredient in question… knowledge I can pass on to cooks and customers.
I am currently experimenting with “Mui tio” roasted salt pepper spice mixture flavoured with garlic from rural Vietnam close to the Cambodian border. Roasted pepper salt is seen rarely seen in South East Asia and this example is particularly pungent and has a captivating aroma.
This spice has proved delicious when used as a dry rub for meat and fish dishes. Recently at home in Santa Barbara Cal, I made west coast Snapper filets with nothing more than the spice liberally spread on the fish with pinches of Spanish Smoked Paprika, aromatic Vietnamese black pepper, Vietnamese sea salt, a pinch of butter, and a squeeze of fresh Meyer lemon.
Check back later for more information on this enticing new product.
Executive Chef Oyvind at Nobu in the InterContinental Hong Kong describes it as having a huge “umami,” the difficult-to-define quality that makes soy sauce so effective a seasoning and Parmigiano cheese so perfectly rich and satisfying.
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