It’s the Sauce, Stupid
A sauce is often the last thing you taste, that’s why they are important. Designing sauces is a lifelong journey. We make our sauces from scratch at Tiki’s.
The most interesting thing in my apprenticeship was learning how to make sauces. The Saucier that I trained under, Mark Brathwaite at Copley Plaza Hotel, was from the island of Barbados and learned mostly from French and German Chefs on Cruise Ships. He had long dark dreadlocks and sported a new Lincoln Town Car and could sing like a nightingale. It was the 80’s and he was in a Reggae band in Boston. He was SO into what he did, his sauces and his music. That’s the wonderful thing about this trade; it’s so eclectic. I remember we would taste things and we’d make gallons of sauce based off those tastes for the high-end Copley Plaza and the Back Bay Hilton. They were sister hotels with the Park Plaza in New York City. You gotta understand the components salt, pepper, acid, sweet, sour, sugar; your basic flavors. What kind of spice component? Bags of Lobster bodies, 50 pound bags of onions… good stuff!
Sauces were first used to mask unpleasant tastes from substandard ingredients or rancid meats before the days of refrigeration. Now they are utilized to compliment a meal, contrast the color and work on many different senses to create a symphony of tastes as well as help with digestion, moistness and such. Yeah, sauces are important. Many would say that simplicity is better and often is, my wife only likes a steak with salt & pepper on it and rightfully so. But you can do that at home. Making reduction sauces with key flavors can enhance that steak substantially. Some bold wine with the alcohol cooked out, some peppercorns, fresh thyme, the natural acid from the wine coming through gently, a splash of demi glaze, it’s a wonderful thing, not so easy at home though. Perhaps some rosemary grilled chicken with a little honey mixed with truffle oil drizzled over to me would be an improvement on a classic comfort food. Honey is such a perfect sauce if you want to think of it that way because it never goes bad. It’s sugar without water essentially, monosaccharide’s at their best. The honey found in Egyptian tombs are still edible! The possibilities are endless.
Take our own Lilikoi Vinaigrette salad dressing, which is phenomenal! I mean people LOVE it. We get asked all the time how they can get their hands on it. Well I’m happy to announce that we’re in the process of getting it bottled for the world to enjoy but it’s tricky. It has to have a high acid content and PH balance to be stable enough to ship and store. Since we make ours fresh we don’t have that problem. Here’s a secret that I’ll share with you, although the mirin (cooking sake) makes the taste, it dilutes the acid too much for the long term, so I’ve worked on a few variations, trying to compensate the mirin with other ingredients, burning off the alcohol in the mirin and adding vinegar, It’s chemistry. We’ve PH tested a final product and will be bringing it to market soon! Essentially this wildly praised dressing consists of only raw onion, cilantro, mirin, vinegar, passion fruit evaporated in sugar and a few other secret ingredients. Stay tuned for more on when and where you will be able to purchase Tiki’s Passion-Lilikoi Vinaigrette Dressing re-designed by yours truly!