Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hotness Cubed

Yesterday was Milo's fourth birthday, so we let him choose dinner. "Pizza" was the verdict. So I made pizza dough and tomato sauce, and pulled other ingredients from the fridge. The pizzas were well received. True story.

Today, in between trying to keep an eye on him while he tear-assed around the driveway on his new bike ($10 from the used bike guy in town, and the best ratio of glee to expense I have ever seen) I tried to get on top of the garden by weeding, thinning, and picking the things that needed to be weeded, thinned, and picked. From the picked things, I made a variety of first-rate condiments. First, some sambal. As you can see, there are many kinds (including the ancestor sauce to Ketchup) but here I was trying to duplicate some that friends brought us from Holland last winter- it was hot, but with ginger, kaffir lime, and sugar to balance it out. We went through two pint jars of it in no time- honestly, my wife would have injected it straight into her veins if she could have. Since our hot peppers are going off like fireworks right now, I tried to use a bunch of them up in a few different ways.

For the sambal, I chopped the cayenne peppers with Thai and lime basil, red onion, garlic, dried shrimp, and ginger, then mashed it all into a paste in the suribachi with some lime juice and a little sugar and agave syrup. It turned out pretty great, and is within sight of the intended goal; lime basil is nowhere near as potent as kaffir lime leaf, but has the advantage of growing in my garden. This version was also raw, and in future I will try cooking it to help it thicken and develop flavors. In any case, our first half-pint is already in rotation and I made a dent in the cayenne crop.

Next up, more kimchi; the last batch was just cabbage and carrot, and this time I wanted spicy. So I went back to the classic mixture of cabbage, carrot, green onion, ginger, and garlic plus Thai basil, chervil and six chopped red serranos with their seeds and membranes. In two weeks it should be perfect.

Last, the hottest of all our peppers- the habañeros. We are lousy with them, and so I tried an idea I had earlier to try to use up a lot of them. The garden has a lot of pink things in it right now, so I used that color as my guide and pulled out the juicer. Red and white carrots, chioggia beets, watermelon, red onion, and radishes all went into the juicer, along with about half our ripe habañero crop (seeded, but with some membrane left in) and four limes. I dissolved some salt in a little cider vinegar on the stove and mixed it in. The foam from the top of the bowl that the juicer drained into was nuclear and delicious. The juice blend was a little less nuclear- there was a lot of membrane in the foam- and bursting with all the pink flavors harmonizing together. The photo gives an idea, but it's really pink- not at all orange or red like regular hot sauce.


Brittany said...

Happy birthday Milo!

I believe I have mentioned that I could bathe in sambal (perhaps your wife and I should get together and sambal wrestle?), but I have actually never tried a homemade version. I'm far too lazy.

Your habanero juice concoction looks like something that would make you hallucinate, like in a really really good way.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Sounds like a great way to spice up Milo's b'day. Hope it was a good one!

Heather said...

Ooh, I bet that would be great for barbecue sauce. On some prawns? With some jasmine rice and cukes. (I need to eat some breakfast.)

Happy birthday, little tyke! He must be so stoked to have a bike.

Zoomie said...

I love the mental picture of boy on bike with glee!

cookiecrumb said...

I love your pink sauce.
(Anybody ever said that to ya before?)

peter said...

Brittany: You are welcome to condiment-wrestle my beautiful wife any time. Can I sell tickets?

Jen: It was great.

Heather: It goes with everything; it's the little pink dress of hot sauces.

Zoomie: He was elated.

CC: No, nobody has. In nobody's defense, I have never made nuclear pink sauce before.

cook eat FRET said...

i mean really peter, that's some impressive mixology happening in your kitchen.

if you cared about me i'd have some pink sauce too.

oh, and where's the wine? there must be a wine that compliments pink sauce... AND I WANTA KNOW!

peter said...

Claudia: I can send you some along with the guanciale when it's ready.

Since the sauce is hot, I would go with a Spätlese Riesling or off-dry gewürztraminer. But the food should dictate the wine. Beer would also work really well.

NuKiwi said...

Sounds quite dangerous...something my former brother & sister-in-law would LOVE... Whew, I'm sweating already!

peter said...

Nukiwi: Yeah, it's a good sweat. Like a sauna for your insides.