Yum Yum Sauce: The Making Of An American Condiment

Oliver Whang wrote . . . . . . . . .

The scene is a familiar one. People sit around a rectangular table, the bulk of which is taken up by a smooth iron cooktop. Gas flames flicker underneath. A man wearing a tall red hat and a white chef’s uniform approaches, pulling a cart filled with cold food, large cooking utensils and various bottles of sauces. He holds a spatula and a large metal fork. He brings them together: cling-clang, cling-clang. Eyes sparkling, he looks around the table. “Welcome to Benihana.”

More commonly referred to as hibachi, Japanese teppanyaki-style cooking has become part of the American dining experience. The combination of noodles, rice, vegetables and meat fried up on a griddle draws customers to these restaurants as much as the loud and showy flair of the chefs cooking at the table.

One of the more subtle curiosities of teppanyaki restaurants — beyond the stacked onion rings of fire and behind-the-back toss of metal utensils — is a creamy orange-pink sauce placed beside your steaming meal. Almost every teppanyaki restaurant will serve it, though its name differs depending on whom you talk to. White sauce (a deceptive moniker), shrimp sauce, yummy sauce, yum yum sauce — are all used interchangeably.

Considered by many in America to be a Japanese classic (one Reddit user called it “infamous”; a blogger speculated that there are really only “two types of folk that dine at a hibachi restaurant, those that get double white sauce and those that don’t know you can get double white sauce”), the sauce’s sweet, slightly tangy flavor varies between restaurants and regions as much as the name does. A little more sweetness in one place. A little more tang in another. Some versions are reminiscent of fry sauce, popular in the South. Such variety calls into question whether the sauce we taste in our local teppanyaki restaurants is even Japanese at all.

Maybe not surprisingly, the answer, it appears, is no.

Nancy Singleton Hachisu, author of three cookbooks on traditional and modern Japanese cuisine, was confused when I first asked her about the sauce. She hadn’t heard of it being used in Japan and actually objected to my initial question about hibachi restaurants. “Since hibachi is a traditional charcoal heater for the room,” she told me, “I cannot think that Japan would yield information on this topic.”

Once I sent her a description of the sauce, which I called shrimp sauce and she called “basically pink mayo,” she told me that there is no evidence of its use in Japanese cuisine.

Elizabeth Andoh, who has lived in Japan for half a century and runs the Japanese culinary education program A Taste of Culture, was also puzzled. “I don’t know of any white sauce or shrimp sauce that is served with Japanese steak,” she said. When I prompted her with a more detailed description, she responded, “This sort of mayo-based … tomato sauce is not part of any Japanese steakhouse repertoire I know of.”

And Polly Adema, director of the food studies program at California’s College of the Pacific, said that the sauce’s origins are fuzzy, though probably not deeply rooted in Japanese culture. Perhaps, she said, the sauce stems from congruent American and modern Japanese tastes for mayonnaise.

Andoh did say that, in general, the Japanese are “mayo crazy.” But such speculation doesn’t get you very far.

“Which came first: an affection for mayo or a mayo-enriched dish?” Adema asked. “[It’s] one of those questions we may never be able to answer.”

The recipe for the sauce is equally difficult to come by. I reached out to 15 different restaurants around the U.S. — large chains and independently run joints — but each turned down my request. “We cannot divulge that information,” a Benihana manager in Maryland told me. I received similar answers from a Sakura in New Jersey, an Edohana in Texas and a Flame in New York.

Chuck Cutler ran into a very similar problem 25 years ago, when he first tasted what he calls white sauce in a teppanyaki restaurant. “I noticed that all the other people at the table were asking for two bowls of white sauce … so I tried it. I was instantly hooked.”

Cutler spent a decade asking different restaurants for the recipe, to no avail. “It’s a Japanese secret,” chefs would tell him. One day, though, in a Florida grocery store, he stumbled across a sauce produced by a teppanyaki restaurant. He remembers it being called vegetable sauce. So he bought a bottle “and darned if it didn’t taste exactly like what I had been looking for.”

Using the ingredients listed on the vegetable sauce bottle, Cutler was able to come up with his own recipe (Chuck’s Easy Recipe), which, in a form of revenge against the restaurants that had rejected him, he made a website for: Japanese-Steakhouse-White-Sauce.com. According to Cutler, it was the first good recipe online. Created almost a decade and a half ago, the website now has 229 pages of comments from visitors. There “are thousands of comments from people all over the world saying, ‘Oh my God, I’ve been looking for this forever,’ ” he said. “Ninety-eight percent of them are positive.”

The popularity and intrigue around the sauce led one teppanyaki restaurant owner, Terry Ho, to start bottling it in bulk. Ho owns more than 20 restaurants in the South — some teppanyaki and some Chinese. He has lived in Albany, Ga., since the 1970s, when his grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan.

Ho’s sauce is called Terry Ho’s Yum Yum Sauce.

The name is distinctive — and a nifty branding move. According to Ho, “Yum Yum Sauce” is much more appealing than white sauce or shrimp sauce, neither of which is even a vaguely accurate description of the actual sauce. “There’s no shrimp in this recipe,” he said. “Why are you calling it shrimp sauce?” Yum Yum Sauce, though, is fitting: “Well, I mean, it tastes yummy.”

For years, Southerners who had tasted or heard about Ho’s Yum Yum Sauce — which he made a little differently from others (less oil and sugar) — would come to his restaurants asking for 16 or 20 ounces of it. He would dole it out in Styrofoam containers.

Seeing the business potential, Ho started manufacturing and bottling the sauce on a mass scale about a decade ago. Success came quickly. The sauce worked its way to larger and larger outlets, diffusing throughout the United States. It is now sold in around 30,000 grocery stores nationwide. Ho said the company is growing by 10 to 15% every year. The sauce is also stocked in U.S. military commissaries around the world. “There are people in Germany and Saudi Arabia buying the sauce,” Ho proudly said.

“My plan is to turn Yum Yum Sauce into the next American condiment,” he told me. “We don’t want to be just [perceived as] an Asian sauce. We want to be the next ranch.”

When I asked Cutler about Terry Ho’s Yum Yum Sauce, he sighed. “I tried that one, and I didn’t think it was that great.” But of course, he acknowledged, tastes are tastes. Different sauces will appeal to different people in different regions.

The sauce — delicious as it is — is something different to everyone. It’s what’s available. What’s memorable. Maybe even what has the most creative name.

Source: npr

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Duck Breast with Carrot and Chamolile

Ingredients

2 whole duck breasts
1 to 2 teaspoons French 4-spice blend (your favorite brand)
1 pound baby carrots, halved or quartered if large
2 chamomile tea bags
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced
1 teaspoon honey Kosher salt
2 cups veal or chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 mandarin oranges, peeled and chopped
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, thick stems discarded and leaves chopped, for garnish
Chamomile or coriander flowers, for garnish (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Score the duck breasts in several places. This will allow the duck fat to escape during cooking. Season lightly with the spice blend.
  3. Heat a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, sear the duck breasts, skin side down, until the skin is crispy and golden brown and the fat renders, 4 to 5 minutes. Lift the duck breasts from the pan and drain off the fat (Reserve the fat for another use). Return the duck breasts to the pan, skin side up.
  4. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the duck breasts for 8 to 10 minutes, until cooked through.
  5. Lift the duck breasts from the skillet and set them aside to rest.
  6. Put the carrots in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by about 1/2 inch. Add the tea bags, butter, and honey and season lightly with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until the water evaporates and the carrots are tender and glazed, 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Mix 1 tablespoon of the stock with the cornstarch to make a slurry, stirring well until smooth and lump-free.
  8. In a saucepan, heat the remaining stock over medium heat until warm. Add the slurry to the warm stock and whisk until thick and bubbling hot.
  9. Whisk in a little duck fat, if desired. Stir in the chopped mandarin oranges.
  10. Slice the duck meat from the breasts. Arrange the sliced duck on plates and spoon some sauce over the meat. Pile the carrots next to the duck and serve garnished with chopped parsley and chamomile or coriander flowers, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: So Good

In Pictures: Character Food of Pop-up Koupen Chan Cafe in Japan

The Character Koupen Chan (コウペンちゃん)

UK’s First Supermarket Designed by Public Health Experts Launches in Central London

Edwina Langley wrote . . . . . . . . .

How to properly tackle obesity? Let public health experts design supermarkets. That’s the message of a recent report released by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and Slimming World.

‘Health on the Shelf’ uncovers how the layout of supermarkets, their pricing strategies and general ambiance are fueling obesity, as prominence given to unhealthy food plays a significant role in shopping choices made by customers. Research revealed 15 per cent of people believe supermarkets cause them to ‘go off track’ in their efforts to lose weight, whilst more than one in three claim they impulse-buy unhealthy food and drinks because supermarkets put them on special offer.

The report encouraged retailers to address these issues and released a series of recommendations, one of which was to re-consider store layouts in favour of more health-focused designs. The report advised supermarkets allocate less shelf space to products such as chocolate, crisps and sugary drinks, and give greater visibility to foods based on the Government’s EatWell guide, such as fruit, vegetables, pulses, lean meat and water.

It also encouraged the removal of unhealthy products from eye level, from checkouts and from end of aisle promotions, unless – in the case of the latter – a healthier option is also on promotion, and stated retailers should be more transparent about paid-for product placements, if permitted in-store.

Additionally, healthy snacks should be handed out to shopping customers, the report suggested, whilst live food demonstrations should take place showing how ingredients can be used to create healthy dishes.

To demonstrate how this would work, RSPH and Slimming World have unveiled a pop-up in The People’s Supermarket in Lamb’s Conduit Street in London.

Named ‘Nudge’, the new look store was designed by public health experts and includes a number of health-focused features. Foods such as ‘pasta and rice’ and ‘beans, pulses and eggs’, for instance, have been positioned on sale at aisle ends in place of junk food, whilst greater prominence has been given to fruit and vegetables, and an EatWell Guide displayed on the wall.

Of the report and pop-up, Slimming World Public Health Manager and Dietician Carolyn Pallister said: “Being overweight not only impacts on people’s physical health, it can also impact on overall mental and emotional wellbeing and happiness; anything that helps those of us who struggle with our weight to make healthier choices is a good thing…

“Supermarkets will argue that they are giving their customers the choice; and we haven’t removed those choices at Nudge, all we’ve done is made it easier for customers to choose healthier alternatives and put less emphasis on promotions of foods likely to cause weight gain. If supermarkets empowered their consumers to make these changes themselves though through creating an environment which promoted a healthier diet, they could become part of the solution in helping tackle the obesity epidemic.”

Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, added: “Alongside Slimming World, we are calling on the government to commit to legislation to support supermarkets in promoting healthier choices through legislation. If we change the environment we can encourage healthier choices for all.”

Source: Evening Standard

Medications Used to Treat Atrial Fibrillation May Raise Risk of Falls and Fall-Related Injuries

For older adults, fainting and falls are serious health concerns. They can lead to injury, hospitalization, and other severe consequences. Having certain chronic conditions, as well as taking certain medications, can raise your risk of experiencing falls and fall-related injuries.

One condition that contributes to fainting and falls is atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation occurs when the upper (atrial) part of your heart contracts rapidly and irregularly (fibrillates). Atrial fibrillation may be continuous or occasional and is the most common irregular heart rhythm in older adults. It occurs in three to five percent of people over age 65.

To prevent atrial fibrillation symptoms, health professionals may treat patients with medications to control their heart rate or rhythm. However, these medications can potentially raise the risk for falls and fainting, though the connection hasn’t studied significantly in the past.

To learn more, researchers in Denmark designed a study to learn more about the potential risk for falls and fainting among older adults taking medication for atrial fibrillation. Their study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Using Danish health data, the researchers identified patients who were between the ages of 65 and 100 when they were first diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. The researchers examined the records of 100,935 atrial fibrillation patients 65 years or older who filled prescriptions for heart rhythm medications.

The researchers examined the medication the patients took to control their heart rhythms. Prescriptions were for beta-blockers, certain calcium channel blockers (diltiazem, verapamil), and digoxin. Other medications included amiodarone, flecainide, and propafenone.

Then the researchers looked for those patients who had emergency department visits or hospital admissions for fainting, fall-related injuries, or both. Fall-related injuries were defined as fractures of the thigh, elbow, forearm, wrist, shoulder or upper arm, pelvis, and skull, as well as major and minor head injuries.

The researchers followed the patients for about two and a half years. During the follow-up period:

  • 17,132 (17 percent) had a fall-related injury
  • 5,745 (5.7 percent) had a fainting episode
  • 21,093 (20.9 percent) had either a fall-related or fainting-related injury

There were 40,447 deaths without a fall-related injury or fainting episode, which accounted for 40.1 percent of study participants.

The researchers reported that the medication amiodarone was significantly associated with increased risk, whether it was prescribed alone or with other heart rhythm drugs. The medication digoxin was slightly associated with fall-related injuries.

The researchers also learned that people were at higher risk for an injury within the first 90 days of treatment, and especially within the first 14 days of treatment.

“Our findings add evidence that, for older patients with atrial fibrillation, treatment with amiodarone is associated with a higher risk of fall-related injuries and fainting,” said the researchers. Additionally, the amiodarone connection was strongest within the first two weeks of the treatment but still present after long-term treatment.

The researchers concluded that being informed on the adverse risks of a given treatment is crucial to make shared decisions and provide quality patient care.

This summary is from “Rate- or Rhythm in Older Atrial Fibrillation Patients: Risk of Fall-related Injuries and Syncope.” It appears online ahead of print in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Source: Health In Aging


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