Pete's Log: S-cubed, v.1

Entry #1115, Sun, September 16, 2001, 22:56 EST (Cooking)
(posted when I was 23 years old.)
So I have a mission in life. A mission that surpasses all other goals I may strive towards. And it seems appropriate that I discuss this mission in the inaugural entry of the new Cooking topic.

My mission in life is to perfect a sweet and sour sorta sauce. But I've decided the sauce I want should not only be sweet and sour, but also a little spicy as well. And thus my project is s-cubed. I've made sweet and sour sauce before, but I always followed recipes to some degree. Friday night the project began. I was going to combine ideas from several recipes as well as improvise on my own thoughts I've had. So here's what I did for version 1:

  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Brown 1 clove garlic and 1 quarter sized slice of ginger in the olive oil
  • Reduce heat to low or medium low
  • Add 1 teaspoon "Better Than Bouillon" vegetable base,
  • juice from an 8 oz can of sliced pineapple in its own juice,
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar,
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup,
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar,
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce,
  • A few drops of lemon juice,
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper,
  • 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper,
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch

I then fried some sliced green bell pepper, carrots, sugar peas, water chestnuts, and pineapple for a while and added the sauce to that. And served it with rice. Andy and Nicole approved of the end result, but refused to give me any constructive criticism, so I have only my own: the sweet component was quite good, and the sour was decent. The spicy component was too low. Next time around I think I would use a little more ginger, a little more lemon juice, and maybe more vinegar. I'd also like to play around with other vinegars, maybe a red wine vinegar. More spice must also somehow be added.

A few notes: the "Better Than Bouillon" is a jar of stuff I found at meijer. You're supposed to mix it with boiling water to make soup stock. I instead used it in concentrated form. It's potent and is made mainly of various concentrated vegetables (such as carrot, celery, onion, tomato, potato, and garlic) as well as some spices. I may actually try using more of it next time to try to enhance the spicy component, though it will also contribute to sweet.

Proper cooking time is key. When the vinegar is first added, it is overpowering. But it quickly cooks off, and at some point a good balance is struck. But cook it too long and the sourness begins to wear off too much. I think on this attempt I let the sauce cook a little too long.

But overall, I enjoyed the result. So the road to perfection is already starting from a positive position.
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Comments for this log entry

spicy by perk (Mon, September 17, 2001, 00:45)
put a habenjero (sic) pepper in the sauce. That'll spice it up! Once my roomie in Livermore told me I should try some of this weird sauce on my pasta, so I did w/o even looking at it. I only put on 1/4 teaspoon or so, but after two bites of pasta I was in PAIN. I spent the next 20 mins laying on my bed trying not to breath.... (the air hurt). I found out later is was habenjero sauce.