Thursday, October 22, 2009
It might not be everyone's thang, but me and liquid smoke, we get along just fine. I like to use it (sparingly) in all kinds of things including my popcorn. Yes! Toss some popped corns in a bit of nooch, hot sauce, liquid smoke and salt. It's a true smoky delight. I really do eat it that way, but I also use it in a lot of my Southern cooking kinda dishes: red beans, collards, breaded protein circles (for dazee), Creole gumbo or anything I want to veganize that might have had ham hock or andouille in the meaty original.
This is my favorite brand of liquid smoke, I get it at the People's co-op. It's made in CA and is completely free of preservatives and crappy stuff, including caramel color. It's just the pure extracted liquid essence of smoked hickory--whatever that means.
Liquid smoke can be cloying if added in excess, so I use it very carefully--always remember and never forget: just a wee bit goes a long way. However, there are all sorts of other smoky elements you can add or use besides liquid smoke, to help build a smoky, but not overpowering essence to your food. I am particularly fond of smoked salt. I actually cook with it in recipes instead of using it as a finishing salt, I don't find it too strong at all and feel like it adds a much more nuanced flavor than you might get from liquid smoke alone. It's pretty spendy for salt, but totally worth it for the flavor-punch it provides (that's it all bagged up in the photo above).
Yesterday thanks to my friend John, I picked up a wee jar of Bakon from Food Fight, the famous vegan grocery store, which happens to be a quick jaunt from our abode. I had no idea this magical powder (smoked torula yeast) was still being produced, so I was quite titillated to scoop some up. Back in like '93, I had a huge bag of it squirreled away in my freezer, and reuniting with it will be like meeting long lost friends at a sleazy downtown hotel, with a new hairdo and a good bra--you know, the best of good times.
See? There's nothing really bad in there folks. All vegan, all XgfX, all smoky-tasty goodness.
Once we get a little more settled in New Portleans, with a little patch of dirt to call our own, I plan on plugging in my Alton Brown flower pot smoker, to see how that action works. The premise of the smoker is brilliant, and it cost very little to put together, so that bitch better work or I am gonna be one bummed little princess (especially considering I dragged it all across this wide country of ours). My dream? To marinate a big fluffy white extremely pressed block of tofu in some liquid smoke, savory broth, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and a touch of maple syrup. Then to faithfully rub it with Bakon and hickory smoked salt, and smoke it in my homemade earthen contraption. With a little smoky love, all is possible.
I can't believe I left out my two other favorite smoky foods (thanks to readers for reminding me):
1. Smoked paprika (from Spain, mild and delicious)
2. Chipotles (smoked jalapeno peppers--buy them whole for beans or powdered for more versatility).
P.P.S. No one in the comments yesterday mentioned they wanted a Primal Strip, so there's no one to give one too. Tragic! Please help me unload these chewy snacks, the next winner gets the last gluten-free one I have. Please lemme know in the comments to this post if you want it.