Cooking with Tabasco
Guest Feature by Sarah James:
I’m going to start by saying that I adore heat in my food, but that my use of Tabasco has been limited to a little added to the Marie Rose sauce for a prawn cocktail, that little extra in a Bloody Mary and a few drops into a Chile con Carne; so the chance to see how else it could be used was too good to miss.
We arrived at the Cookery School conveniently located near to Oxford Circus, and with glass of wine in hand were treated to hot nuts (from the oven) cooked in a little olive oil, sea salt and Tabasco made by Gary the Tabasco chef. These were delicious and we tucked into the bowl whilst being told the history of Tabasco.
The business was born as a consequence of the American Civil War from a single chili plant which was so prolific that methods for keeping it had to be found. It involves maturing for three years before the sauce is made. No other pepper sauce is made in this way. Amazingly, this is still a family owned and family managed business with the sauces being made in the same place (although some of the chilis are now grown in South America and the Caribbean).
We were then put into teams to produce the menu for the evening, which we’d then be eating later – so there was a vested interest in making a good job of it! The dishes we prepared as a group were:
- Grilled Fish Tabasco Style (this was the dish that we prepared)
- Salsa Rossa
- Tangy Tabasco Barbeque sauce
- Vegetable kebabs
- Sweet potato chips
- Strawberries dipped in Tabasco Chocolate
Gary clearly spotted the trouble-makers in the group and duly plied us with more wine whilst we watched the BBQ sauce being tasted and altered to get the balance of sweet and sour right. (Personally I still thought that it had too much vinegar in it, and winced each time Rosalind told the ‘student’ to add more!)
We used different types of Tabasco for each dish from mild, pepper, chipotle, through to Habanero which was the hottest of the 4 sauces, but the one that used in the strawberry dish. Gary explained that only a little of the hottest would be need and that using that one avoided adding a vinegar note to the strawberries. These were indeed delicious.
We enjoyed a feast served with a beer from Tenterden (which I had only ever associated with English wine previously)
We’ve come away vowing to be more adventurous in our use of Tabasco and I will definitely make the chicken again as this was really lovely.