The movers and shakers of the Central Arkansas condiment world
A co-worker introduced up La Hacienda’s verde salsa in dialog not too long ago — a spicy, recent, splendidly flavored inexperienced salsa that’s unmatched in our opinion. A unique co-worker (and fellow fan of the Scorching Springs-born Tex Mex-ish establishment) mentioned: “It’s actually extra of a dip.” The remainder of us nodded, not in settlement or disagreement, however as a result of we actually didn’t know.
So what makes a condiment a condiment? And what disqualifies it?
Macmillan Dictionary’s weblog defines the phrase condiment as “one thing resembling salt, pepper or a sauce that you simply placed on meals on the desk to make it style higher.” By that definition, one might most likely make a case for something.
There’s no scarcity of standard domestically made condiments right here in Central Arkansas: Fischer’s Honey in North Little Rock, Complete Hog Cafe’s six completely different barbecue sauce varieties, Cavender’s Greek seasoning, U.S. Pizza’s creamy Italian. We’ve highlighted a few Central Arkansas classics and a few sauces which can be new to the flavour scene.
One identify saved popping up once we requested Arkansas Instances Fb followers for condiment suggestions: Reality Sauce, a candy warmth sauce that’s comparatively new to the scene. Created by Little Rock native Keith Tucker Jr., Reality Sauce was established in January 2020 and might now be discovered in additional than 30 shops, together with Drug Emporium, Uncle-T’s Meals Mart, Fireplace Dancer BBQ and Boss’s Hen. After I spoke with Tucker on March 9, he’d simply signed a contract with Edwards Meals Large that day for the grocery retailer chain to hold Reality Sauce in any respect of its areas statewide. Licensed Pies, the primary Black-owned pizzeria in Little Rock, positioned at 9813 W. Markham, spotlights the sauce on its Licensed Reality Wings.
Tucker, who labored as head chef on the UAMS Most cancers Institute for over a decade, created Reality Sauce in his house kitchen. “I’m a chef by nature,” he mentioned, “So I used to be enjoying round within the kitchen, in fact, and located a success.” Tucker mentioned he was simply attempting to make an excellent all-purpose sauce that will “complement just a little little bit of all the pieces.” He began out bottling Reality Sauce himself and promoting it to family and friends. Since then, he mentioned, it’s “taken a life and legs of its personal. It began out simply me being on the home.” Now, he mentioned, he’s at 32 shops and counting. “I’m blessed.”
The place do you utilize Reality Sauce within the kitchen? Wings, ribs, pork chops and even eggs and cornbread. Demand has grown a lot that Tucker can now not do it alone. It’s now a two-man operation together with his 15-year-old son Keith Tucker III. “He’s performed an important half and he doesn’t get recognition,” Tucker mentioned. Order Reality Sauce on-line at truthsauceinc.com. RB
Three Fold’s No. 1 Sauce
In case you’ve had the bun at Three Fold Noodles and Dumpling Co., you may acknowledge the pepper relish because the piquant soul of the restaurant’s Chinese language equal of a barbecue sandwich. It’s received a curious tang with a deep umami taste. Final 12 months, proprietor Lisa Zhang started bottling and promoting it by the Mason jar as No. 1 Sauce, and it rapidly grew to become my No. 1 condiment. In case you accurately imagine that scorching sauce makes all the pieces higher, No. 1 sauce kicks issues up a notch. Wanting to enliven scrambled eggs? Need to make a scorching canine fancy? Uninterested in dipping your chip in salsa or queso? No. 1 Sauce is the ticket.
Zhang, a local of northern China, is dedicated to sharing genuine Chinese language delicacies with Central Arkansas diners, however she concedes that the No. 1 Sauce isn’t very conventional. She dreamed it up years in the past for a buddy who favored jalapeño peppers. The substances are easy: jalapeño, herbs, inexperienced onion, ginger, soy sauce, oil. The key, Zhang mentioned, is within the preparation.
Bottling and promoting No. 1 Sauce — together with the additionally wonderful No. 2 Sauce (a chili paste that she makes use of at Three Fold to taste noodles) and No. 3 Sauce (chili flakes in oil, often known as the “poison” dumpling dipping sauce on the restaurant) — has lengthy been within the plans as a part of Zhang’s imaginative and prescient to get her delicacies into house kitchens. Through the pandemic final 12 months, she started rolling out reheat-and-eat variations of most of Three Fold’s dishes, and she or he’s already planning methods to enhance the packaging of the sauces. Initially, she thought-about making tutorial movies to assist Arkansans get a way of learn how to use the sauces, however after listening to anecdotes of shoppers utilizing them in sudden methods, she’s hoping the Chinese language sauces discover buy in American delicacies in methods she would by no means think about. Three Fold’s sauces can be found at 611 Essential St. or 1509 Rebsamen Park Highway and may be ordered upfront at 3foldonline.sq..web site. LM
Pizza Cafe Home Ranch
We don’t know when it began or the place, or how widespread it’s, however in some way, ranch dressing grew to become a highly regarded pizza condiment. Some individuals dip their pizza slice in it. Some prefer to drizzle the ranch all around the slice. And for some, not having it’s a dealbreaker. Working in pizza eating places for an period of time I’d moderately not take into consideration, I’ve heard multiple individual inform me how a lot hassle they might be in in the event that they received house with pizza however didn’t have the ranch.
When Richard Harrison was growing the menu at Pizza Cafe on Rebsamen Park Highway in 1991, he knew he needed a home dressing. “I assumed that was actually essential,” he mentioned.
Harrison knew different pizza eating places used ranch seasoning packets, however he needed to do one thing that was just a little completely different.
However earlier than Harrison and his crew received began on the home dressing, they developed a seasoning for the pizza known as the “shake.” Made up of largely parmesan cheese, granulated garlic, oregano and another spices, it’s used to mud the pizzas earlier than they go into the oven.
Whereas attempting to develop a singular ranch utilizing Hidden Valley Ranch powder as a base, they began including parmesan cheese and ultimately the shake itself.
“It simply gave it an excellent style, and it’s been that means for 30 years,” Harrison mentioned. The shake and the ranch are additionally utilized in Pizza Cafe’s honey mustard recipe, which is among the most authentic honey mustard flavors I’ve ever tried. It’s candy and creamy and only a tad spicy. It goes on all of the sandwiches at Pizza Cafe, and a few individuals go for a facet of honey mustard to dip their pie in moderately than the home ranch.
“It’s humorous,” Harrison mentioned, “individuals would ask how we make it, and I don’t conceal issues, however they’d ask, ‘How do you make your honey mustard?’ And I’d go, ‘It’s unattainable to inform ya.’ ”
Pizza Cafe’s ranch is plentiful at each areas at 1517 Rebsamen Park Highway and 14710 Cantrell Highway. If you would like extra than simply a few sides, order a “Occasion Home” in a 20-ounce to-go cup. RB
Sims Bar-B-Que Sauce
After I began to speak to Ron Settlers, proprietor of Sims Bar-B-Que, concerning the revered restaurant’s barbecue sauce, I mentioned, “I do know you’ll be able to’t inform me the recipe … ”
“Sure, I can,” Settlers mentioned.
“First let’s conform to one thing,” he mentioned. “Give me $15.5 million and I’ll let you know the recipe.”
Joking apart, Settlers did let me in on just a little little bit of the recipe. Made with vinegar, sugar, mustard, ketchup and different spices, the barbecue sauce at Sims is skinny and tangy, nothing just like the thick, hearty stuff you get on the grocery retailer aisles. Settlers specified that it’s not a cooking sauce, it’s an consuming sauce for use on the meat (or soaked up with white bread) after it’s been cooked.
Settlers mentioned that again within the day, children used to return into the unique location on thirty third Avenue and purchase a bag of potato chips and eat them with Sims sauce. On Oct. 2, Settlers may have owned the barbecue restaurant for 45 years. It was initially opened as Sims Cafe in 1937 by Allen and Amelia Sims. “It was actually a restaurant become a beer joint that bought good barbecue,” Settlers mentioned. At first, he mentioned, Sims simply had three meats: ribs, pork and beef. Settlers has added rooster, smoked meats, bologna and greens like inexperienced beans, potato salad and coleslaw. What makes Sims distinctive, he mentioned, is “We cook dinner over an open flame pit and the sauce has all the time been the boss.”
Sims barbecue sauce may be bought in pint, quart, half gallon or gallon jugs at any of its areas: 2415 Broadway, 7601 Geyer Springs Highway and 1307 John Barrow Highway. RB