Tomatoes taste best fresh off the vine, but peppers turn magical with time.
Peppers on their own are simple with their flavor and heat. With the help of lactobacillus and a brine solution, the peppers ferment into a tangy hot sauce with marvelously complex flavors. No added vinegar is needed.
At the Parish, co-owner and executive chef Travis Peters isn’t afraid to play around with flavors when it results in something tasty enough to lick off the plate.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of fermented foods,” Peters said. “Kraut, fish sauces, beer, and kimchi are so amazing.”
Though Peters always played around with different ideas, none of them came into fruition until he recently received a book from his friend about fermenting.
“I started reading it and decided to kick up my game and do some good ol’ fashioned self-educating,” Peters said.
After brainstorming with one of the Parish’s salsa and hot sauce fanatic cooks Geoff, they’ve come up with a handful of sauces that are still fermenting. As the sauces aren’t ready quite yet, Peters is still figuring out how the sauces will be incorporated into the upcoming new menu.
The most straightforward hot sauce of the bunch, the medium heat complements cheesy or seafood dishes like the Baked Oysters Bleu.
“Matt over at Ermanos shared some fermented pineapple that he made,” Peters said. “Once I tasted that, I got the idea for a fermented pineapple and habanero hot sauce. It’s really spicy but the fermentation brought out so many other layers of flavor.”
The extra sugar from the pineapple helps with the fermentation and also helps temper the habanero heat. It pairs well with rich dishes like the BBQ Tails.
Peach, Saffron, & Chipotle
“I bought too many peaches from my man Eric at Pivot Produce a while back,” Peters said. “I’ve never had peaches so sweet and delicious. I just knew they needed to be fermented. We added saffron and dried chipotles and loved how it came out”
The most complex sauce of the bunch, it works well with smoky dishes such as The Tchoup.
Red & Green Hatch
Though these peppers are from New Mexico, the Korean kimchi-esque funk really comes through. The funk would taste lovely used as a substitute for Tajín with fresh fruit or the crisp jicama in the Garden District.
Manzano & Habanero
The hottest of the bunch, use it carefully. It will be bottled for tables, so you can spice up anything you order.
Watermelon, Fresno, & Chipotle
“I have been messing around with different versions of fried chicken for a while and thought about what flavors would be great with it,” Peters said. “I instantly thought about watermelon and Geoff and I just started blending and mixing until we came up with a flavor profile that got us stoked.”
The refreshing qualities of watermelon make it taste fabulous with any fried food, but pairing with fried chicken will will provide a comforting nostalgia experience in an exciting new way.
Peters’ fermentation isn’t limited to hot sauces. He’s adding Korean-inspired flair to his southern cuisine with kimchi.
“I’ve been tooling around with kimchi as well,” Peters said. “I wanted to have fun with the classic bacon and Brussels dish, so I thought I’d just try to make a kimchi version.”
His excitement is spreading to wildly unorthodox creations.
“From there I saw a bunch of beautiful blueberries and naturally thought, why not?” Peters said. “I’m thinking it will pair beautifully with a fatty pork dish.”