By Patty Erd
In the early 2000’s my parents hopped in their car, left Wauwatosa Wisconsin, and ventured to the American South searching for new spices and ingredients. On this southern trip my dad discovered a pivotal Spice House ingredient, and our stores have been burning with flavor since. My parents loved road trips. They often had a mission, like visiting our importers on the East Coast. After weeks on the road, their van resembled a cross between a fortune teller’s cart and a traveling medicine wagon.
My dad returned from one of these trips with a giant plastic bag filled with a reddish-brown gloopy slop. This gloop was leftover chile pepper mash from a hot sauce factory. It came from an island where they used the salt marshes and chile peppers to make an amazing hot sauce. It was forbidden to mention the name of the hot sauce, as it was proprietary and trademarked.
Dad was sure we would find something to do with the mash, so he left it with my husband and me.. Tom and I popped the bag open and were blown across the room. Holy cow! What were we going to do with this? Unsure, we stuck it in the refrigerator so it would keep fresh. (Probably right next to the sourdough bread starter that came from some monks in Pennsylvania on another one of my Dad’s trips.)
A week later we took it out from the fridge and began toying with it. After a spirited session in our dehydrator, the wet chile pepper mash turned into a flavorful free-flowing granule. It was lots of fun creating a seasoning with this new ingredient. We added some of our favorite flavors like garlic, habanero chile, shallots, lime, smoked paprika and allspice. Our senior manager in Milwaukee, Mike Kutka, came up with the winning formula.
I suggested Vulcan’s Fire Salt for the name, as it seemed to me the Roman God of Fire would love this blend. My chosen name was not embraced by all. What if Trekkies latched onto it, as in Mr. Spock, the Vulcan? Hmm, how would that be a bad thing? Plus, one advantage of being an owner is that occasionally you get your way! Vulcan’s Fire Salt rose from the ashes. Thank you, Dad, for once again, in your mysterious ways, setting us off on an unusual path.
This video is must see TV for all Spice Boss fanatics. In this clip from Chicago’s Best, Chef Jimmy Bannos, of Heaven on Seven, creates a new dish on the spot with our Fire Salt!
Check our Vulcan’s Fire Salt recipe collection for more ideas. As you enjoy this curious seasoning, just remember that it started as a bag of reddish-brown gloopy slop.