Neck Bones’ Condiment Hall of Fame: Pickapeppa Sauce
The New York Times listed this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame inductees in their paper a few weeks ago. The page was a blank. No one received more than 75 percent of the vote necessary to gain entry. To compensate for the lack of 2013 Baseball Hall of Famers, I’m creating my own Hall of Fame, but not for baseball players. Mine will be for the most deserving condiments on the planet. And they don’t need more than 75 percent of anyone else’s vote. For now, I’m the only judge for this award, and I swear I won’t hold it against a condiment if they might be, or once were, pumped with steroids or anything else chemical or artificial. I know in the world of condiments, there is no such thing as a level playing field.
So, the inaugural inductee to the Neck Bones Condiment Hall of Fame is that Jamaican treasure: Pickapeppa Sauce.
Pickapeppa originated in 1921 and still is produced in Jamaica, in a place called Shooter’s Hill. I once drove past the Pickapeppa factory many years ago, but foolishly didn’t stop to wander the facilities to learn how such a unique sauce is concocted. So I can only go on what it says on the label of the bottle, which tells me that the ingredients include mangos, tamarind, tomatoes, onions, sugar cane vinegar, raisins, and "spices." And then, like good Jamaican rum, the sauce is aged in oak barrels for a year before it is sold to the public.
In Jamaica, Pickapeppa became famous as an accompaniment to cream cheese. I can honestly declare that I have never contemplated topping a bagel and cream cheese with Pickapeppa sauce, but maybe I’m missing something. Pickapeppa is also commonly used an added ingredient to marinades for barbecues, a baste for fish or meat, and stirred into gravies for a tangy kick. I’ve used it as a dip for samosas, tempuras, and fried fish, to lively up a dull or dry piece of meat, or sprinkled on scrambled eggs.
On the website there are a number of recipes including one for a Creole Bloody Mary that looked intriguing. In fact, I’ve heard that the sauce has become a favorite new source for creative Caribbean mixologists.
As a tribute to Pickapeppa, I cooked up one of the recipes on the website: Pickapeppa Pulled Chicken. I’ve tweaked it somewhat, but otherwise, I present it here, pretty much intact.
Brian Silverman chronicles cheap eats, congee, cachapas, cow foot, cow brains, bizarre foods, baccala, bad verse, fazool, fish stomach, happy hours, hot peppers, hot pots, pupusas, pastas, rum punch and rotis, among many other things on his site Fried Neck Bones...and Some Home Fries. Twitter: neckbones@fried_neckbones.