This is a recurring series of posts based on new products we find in the marketplace that are fun, different and FLAVORFUL! This time around, we explored some international grilling traditions.
It’s July; the dog days of summer. When it comes to food that can only mean one thing: grilling. I love getting to spend time outside with a drink in my hand tending to some delicious food. COVID has taken my ability to travel away, but it can’t stop me from exploring the flavors of the world. There are so many interesting international sauces and marinades influencing the US, so I went over to Jungle Jim’s International Market to sample everything I could find. I got the marinades in order, and Armand came to help me with grilling up the meats.
Mama Sita’s Tapa Marinade
Beef tapa is one piece of a traditional Filipino breakfast dish, beef tapsilog. The fare is comprised of three pieces: beef tapa, garlic fried rice, and fried egg. I set the beef to marinate overnight for the full flavor effect. The first whiff I got of the marinade excited me, it smelled wonderful. Grilling and finally getting to try the beef was a treat. The flavor was similar to a teriyaki. I’m all in for some Filipino breakfast now.
O’Food Korean BBQ Galbi Sauce
Korean galbi is traditionally grilled beef short ribs. Instead, we marinaded some steak, but it provided a similar experience. The sauce uses a base of soy sauce and brown sugar, but unlike the tapa marinade, it also includes some fruit purees (pear, apple, and pineapple). The charcoal grill mixed with the flavor from the sauce gave a heavenly sweet and smoky flavor to the beef. I’d expect to see galbi starting to be seen more frequently as Korean cuisine continues its fast growth.
Kikkoman Ponzu Sauce
Traditionally, ponzu sauce was made with rice vinegar, rice wine, bonito fish flakes, seaweed, and yuzu. Most ponzu sauce today varies only slightly from soy sauce. We tried one of the soy sauce variations. The marinade added a bright citrus flavor and a nice umami from the soy sauce. This was my favorite marinade and I understand why it’s growing so quickly.
Ponzu has grown 30.1% on menus over the past four years.-Datassential
Grace Jamaican Style Jerk Marinade
Jerk sauce hails from Jamaica. The traditional sauce varies by recipe, but it’s agreed upon that it must include allspice, scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, and garlic. This spicy sauce has been on the American radar for a while, but with the growth of spicy food, it may be positioned for further expansion. Neither Armand nor I are spicy food aficionados, so a jerk sauce was a risk. We lucked out, as this particular sauce relied on the allspice and the garlic for flavor. It was a delicious sauce that was very mild and I’m sure I’ll be using it again in the near future.
Mesa Fresca Chimichurri
I love chimichurri, so this was a safe play for me. The sauce hails from Argentina and is made with parsley, garlic, olive oil, and a few other ingredients. This particular chimichurri was interesting as the parsley was the least finely chopped I’d ever seen. The sauce was a great compliment to the steak as the olive oil and garlic really came through. Armand was pleasantly surprised. He’s been disappointed by chimichurri in the past (the man doesn’t eat anything that involves vegetables or the color green). Chimichurri has grown 52.4% on menus over the past four years (Datassential), so you’re bound to start seeing more of it.
Marco Polo Ajvar
Ajvar is a personal favorite. I was first introduced to this roasted red pepper sauce on a Croatian vacation. It’s now associated with Krka and Plitvice Lakes, which are two of the most beautiful places on earth. The sauce is absolutely perfect for beef. This ajvar had a nice sweet roasted red pepper taste, followed by a small kick of spice at the end. I’m not sure Armand was a fan, but for me it tasted like paradise.
Nando’s Peri Peri Sauce
Nando’s peri peri sauce has taken on cult status across the Atlantic and our friends from the UK swear by the stuff. I’d had peri peri chicken before, so I kind of knew what we were getting into. When grilling the chicken breasts, this was the sauce I was thinking about. I can say I definitely was not prepared for the amount of heat this sauce packs. The flavor is wonderful as there is some sweetness from the birdseye peppers and some upfront saltiness. The sauce then delivers quite a punch of heat at the end. This was definitely our hottest sauce, but also my favorite as it was so flavorful. I am very glad I got the medium.
Dona Isabel Aji Amarillo
The Peruvian yellow chile pepper makes this sauce famous in the Andes. I was personally excited to try this one. Delwood, a local burger joint, has become known for their Peruvian twist on a burger and serves their waffle fries with aji amarillo aioli. Not only had my local experience been good, but aji amarillo has grown 134.9% on menus over the past four years (Datassential). After all the build up in my head, I was a little bit disappointed with this one. It tasted like eating a yellow bell pepper with some more spice. I’m willing to give it another shot, but this time around it didn’t live up to expectations.
Seoul Kimchi Ketchup
Korean food has grown in popularity since the 2018 Olympic games and with all of its influence, it’s no wonder this twist on ketchup exists. I was hopeful with this one as well. I like ketchup and I like kimchi, so putting them together should make it even better, right? Well, the product was pretty good, there was a ketchup taste and a fermented kimchi flavor with it, but combining them didn’t create a better product. I’m going to stick to keeping my kimchi and ketchup separate from now on. Armand thought it was “just okay.”
Zeisner Curry Ketchup
Curry ketchup is a familiar friend of mine. I bought this one knowing exactly what I was getting into. If you’ve ever been to Berlin, you’ve certainly seen currywurst everywhere, which is one of my favorite parts of the city. The story behind the dish is just as interesting as trying the dish itself. My mouth was watering grilling up the bratwursts in anticipation. I was happy to share a favorite of mine with Armand. Funny enough, he said this was his favorite out of everything we tried.
This may be the first time Armand has ever been able to say he’s tried something that I have not. He had tried wild boar prior to our cookout. I was excited to give this one a try after talking with Chris Suthoff on our culinary team about what’s happening in sandwiches. Chris noted that game meat has been growing and that he suggested wild boar bacon on a burger.
I went a different route with this and we made some wild boar sliders. The sliders were good. If I had never looked at the label, I would not have guessed what we were eating was wild boar. It could make a great substitute for pork in anything you’re cooking. “Why is there feral pig in the fridge?” is what my fiancee said after I bought this, which is easily my favorite part of eating the wild boar meat.
I will admit, I went a little overboard with what I bought. The antelope meat was where I just went for it. When you’re staring into the the exotic meat section at Jungle Jim’s and things like alligator, ostrich, rattlesnack, kangaroo, and antelope are staring back – you just take a leap of faith. I’ve had a game pie or two from my travels to the United Kingdom, but I was not ready for antelope meat. Our first indications that this would be different was when Armand was making the patties. We later found out that grilling up ground antelope on its own just doesn’t work. It could work if it were mixed together with another meat and served with a gravy. I just might try to make an antelope and beef pie in the near future.
As you can see, grocery shopping can be a great way to explore the world. I know I use it as a way to take myself places without paying the expensive airfare.