Uncle ho's most decidedly eastern finishing sauce

Yield: 1 Servings

Measure Ingredient
16 ounces Apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Red pepper flakes
1½ tablespoon Phu Quoc brand nuoc mam
1 teaspoon Ground cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon Black pepper

Here's a recipe that attempts to duplicate the nation's original barbeque finishing sauce, the one developed in colonial Virginia and North Carolina during the 1600s and 1700s. I went to the Lexington North Carolina Barbeque Festival last weekend, and I have recipes published in the local paper that I'll post soon, as well as some words on an excellent book on North Carolina barbeque I bought down there called "North Carolina Barbecue--Flavored By Time", by Bob Garner. It does an excellent job of making up for the near total omission of North Carolina barbeque in the otherwise excellent book "Smokestack Lightning", IMHO.

Enjoy the recipe. It may seem strange at first glance, but it is pretty good.

As a long time afficianado of Eastern North Carolina style barbeque, I have been intrigued by the origins of the vinegar/red pepper sauce used by the pit masters in that region. It is unique among all barbeque finishing or dipping sauces in that in contains no tomato extracts--owing to the fact that, at the time of it's origins in the 1600s and 1700s, tomatoes were thought to be posionous. What was used instead was "English Ketchup", a concoction containing cider vinegar, red peppers, spices, and oysters. This basic blend is in use to this day with one notable exception--the oysters have been discarded.

Well, I got to wondering what that original barbeque might have tasted like, seasoned with the English Ketchup of the time. Having no reference and no clue as to how oysters were incorporated into the original mix, I instead decided to substitute nuoc mam--a Vietnamese fish sauce made from fish extract, water, and salt. While I cannot say this is an exact replication of the nation's original barbeque finishing and dipping sauce, it is in all likelihood a pretty decent semblance of what our colonial ancestors seasoned their barbeque with. In addition, it's also pretty damn tasty, IMHO--complementing, rather than masking, the smoky rich sweetness of slow cooked barbeque.

Simply combine all ingredients, and let alone to marry for one or two days before using. If you use it as a finishing sauce, add about 12 ounces of the sauce to roughly three pounds of smoked and pulled pork barbeque in a cast iron pan, add water to cover, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce *just* barely oozes over the barbeque when pressed down upon with a spatula. Or, just mix with smoked and pulled pork barbeque before serving if using as a dip.

Recipe By : Tom Solomon

Posted to bbq-digest V4 #21

Date: Tue, 29 Oct 1996 08:28:20 -0800 (PST) From: Tom Solomon <bigheat@...> NOTES : It is very important to use authentic Vietnamese nuoc mam in this recipe--that is, a nuoc mam made in Vietnam, with Phu Quoc brand being considered the best brand widely available. Nuoc mam made in Thailand tends to be too coarse and salty in taste to blend well with the other ingredients, and thus produces too much of a pronounced fish and salt taste to suit fine barbeque.

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