I felt this part of the post about my experiment with 'Pig Honey' deserved a separate post, as I am extremely happy with the results. One of the things that occurred to me in my quest to create a liquid that would allow me to enhance the natural flavor of pork, was that I did not want a sauce or glaze. I wanted a liquid that would not only enhance the appearance and bite flavor, but, would mimic and intensify the flavor of the natural pork liquid (''Pig honey') that comes from ribs. If you have ever cooked ribs in a smoker or on a grill, you have seen this liquid, it looks like a pale yellow foamy emulsion that coats the pork about 30 to 60 minutes prior to the ribs being done. Test one, how does the texture and bark develop, does it burn or hold it's color. I think this color is perfect. And there were on the fire just a little too long, the color is still excellent.
I developed this recipe in the vacuum of now really knowing how I would use it. I wanted to create a great deal of complexity, while maintaining balance of the sweet, salty and savory flavors, all with an eye towards enhancing the natural sweetness of 'pig honey'. I consulted with a friend, Rob Bergstrom, who is a highly educated scientist and a food enthusiast also. We discussed the relationship of proteins, sugars, salts and other elements that might contribute to 'pig honey' Here is the recipe I developed ( which is the same as on the rib post) based upon the knowledge I could glean from him.
Pig Honey Sauce
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup Red Boat Fish Sauce
1/4 cup Braggs Amino Acids
1/8 cup Honey
1 Tablespoon turbinado sugar
Combine all ingredients and bring to just short of a boil, maintain heat until sugar is dissolved.
Here is the sauce in the dribble bottle, a spray bottle would have been better, but, I don't own one of those yet.
Now, the why...
Red Boat Fish Sauce: a very high quality fish sauce, unique in that it is not only extremely complex in flavor, but, very high in protein and without added sweeteners or preservatives. Red Boat is one of the only brands that can make this claim, with a unique blending process resulting in an artisanal product of singular quality. This gives me control of the sweetness while allowing me to build protein flavor profiles into the sauce. I wanted animal protein to be a part of this sauce, it was necessary to have the profile I wanted. Unfortunately, fish sauce, all fish sauce, is high in sodium, so I could not use this solely to provide the amino acids that I wanted.
Bragg's Amino Acids is a food flavoring that is unknown to most cooks. One of the great things about this stuff is it is very low sodium and adds a real punch of complexity to any food. This was my solution to adding more amino acids to the flavor profile while limiting additional salt. This worked incredibly well in conjunction with the fish sauce and has been a go to item in my kitchen when I needed the effect of shoyu or tamari minus the wheat or sodium.
The apple juice, sugar and honey all provide additional sweetness with a variety of sugars and taste profiles. This, too, adds complexity even as it adds sweetness to the mix. I used just enough to balance the flavors. The actual finished taste of the liquid is quite balanced without a pronounced sweetness.
Now, I ended up using this as a spray on liquid during the cooking process with four applications over the last 2 hours of the rib cook. My hope being that I would not only infuse some of the flavors into the pork, but, also to catch the all important stage where I could get the real 'pig honey' to blend with my new elixir. I don't normally spray or mop, but, this was one of those exceptions.