By ANGELO G. GARCIA
Who would’ve thought that chili peppers can be used in an ensaymada? A fluffy and buttery brioche pastry complemented by sweet granulated sugar, cream cheese, and a spicy end note. Heat is great in enhancing flavors, but does it really go well with everything?
For Chef Gary Evans, pepper sauces and other pepper seasonings are as basic as salt, pepper, and sugar. Heat, after all, is a flavor profile that enriches the taste of any dish.
“Tabasco pepper sauces and dry seasoning are just like salt, pepper, and sugar. You use them the same way to create a dish. If you add too much salt it becomes salty and if you add too much Tabasco it becomes too spicy. But a balance of those ingredients really helps bring the flavors out of whatever dish you are creating,” the chef, who is the international corporate chef for Tabasco, explains.
The food industry has been experimenting with chili peppers lately, to the point of including spice even in desserts and in other dishes that traditionally don’t use them.
“If you cook pasta, if you cook potatoes without salt, there really is no flavor. But by just adding a few grains of salt, all of a sudden the dish comes to life. Tabasco does exactly the same thing. One of its advantages—thanks to the capsaicin in Tabasco—is that it inflames your taste buds slightly. This gives your tongue more surface area, which means you can taste more of the ingredients of whatever dish is in your mouth. It’s the perfect flavor enhancer,” he adds.
Chef Gary recently visited the Philippines for Tabasco Taste Setters, a two-day workshop about global food trends held at the Magsaysay Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, Inc. in Mandaluyong City. Attended by representatives from the manufacturing, restaurant, catering, and hotel industries, Chef Gary and the Tabasco team presented endless possibilities when it comes to the use of chili pepper products.
Organized by SySu International Inc., the local distributor of the Tabasco brand, the workshop was a venue for discussions about food trends. It also challenged food and beverage industry professionals to use of certain ingredients like, in this case, Tabasco pepper sauces and seasonings.
The workshop is also part of Tabasco’s “Flavor Your World” global campaign, in celebration of its 150th anniversary.
NOT JUST SAUCES ANYMORE
If there’s one brand highly associated with hot sauce, it would be iconic Tabasco. Before there was sriracha, there’s that small bottle of Tabasco in every dinner table in almost every restaurant and household.
Fast forward to today, and the hot pepper sauce industry has grown significantly larger. Different brands have introduced a variety of sauces, from Asian to South American to African flavors. But Tabasco remains to be one of the top pepper sauces out there.
The brand was created by Edmund Mcllhenny in 1868 on Avery Island in Louisiana. The family-owned business grows its own chilies and turns them into a hot sauce on the island. It’s a long process that takes five years of fermentation in oak barrels.
To keep up with the changing market, the brand has introduced more sauces through the years, like the chipotle pepper sauce, habanero sauce, garlic pepper sauce, and more recently, its own sriracha sauce .
Adding to its lineup are the dry pepper seasonings, made for manufacturers, restaurants, and other industries involved in food production. These products are mainly powder and flake seasonings, like the spray dry flavoring and the wet seed seasoning. And these are perfect even on ensaymada.
“It really works. A Tabasco, chili, and chocolate combination is as old as time. It also works well on high-fat or cream-based products. Tabasco is what I call a 360-ingredient. It’s great as a condiment front-of-house. It’s a great ingredient back-of-house, used in recipes. It’s also great behind the bar,” Chef Gary says.
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