The secret in the sauce

From Asian-inspired, vegan mayonnaise to simple and spicy mustard aioli — homemade condiments offer something a little more special than what you might find in a ketchup bottle. “The trick to creating a uniquely delicious condiment is to put your signature on something based in tradition, so the result is reminiscent of the product that inspired you,” says Jason Sellers, chef and co-owner of Plant on Merrimon Avenue. “You know a condiment is good when you could imagine eating it on anything savory.”

Plant features a whole-grain, ground mustard that is fermented with live brine and cultures. A condiment often reserved for hamburgers and hot dogs adds a bold edge to Sellers’ applewood smoked “porto’ house” — portobello mushroom dish. The same could be said for Plant’s togarashi mayo, which is inspired by the Japanese dry condiment made from black peppercorns, orange, poppy seed, chilies, seaweed, garlic and onions. The complex sauce is served with the shishito peppers, accompanied by floral cucumber and shiitake bacon. “The secret with mayo is to go over the top,” says Sellers. “There’s no place for subtlety. Ours has a hint of hot sauce, floral notes and pungency.” In lieu of the traditional, egg-based mayonnaise, Sellers makes this creamy vegan sauce with tofu, agave and lemon juice — plus some of Sellers’ secret ingredients.

On the other side of town, at Sunny Point Cafe in West Asheville, people line up for biscuits topped with homemade, locally sourced, mixed-berry jam, aptly named, “It’s The Jam.” According to Bridget Bolding, the general manager of Sunny Point Cafe, “The recipe is always the same, but of course each batch of berries will have a slight change in flavor depending on numerous seasonal variances.”

On the flipside of indulgence, Sunny Point also offers a breakfast salad served with its maple dijon vinaigrette. Greg Rogers, owner of Haw Creek Honey, supplies honey for the hemp and honey vinaigrette, which is delicious with any spring salad. Both dressings are available for retail purchase. Other notable house-made dressings on the menu include the spicy orange dressing on the chicken and waffles, as well as the buttermilk blue cheese dressing.

A few blocks down Haywood Road, Asheville Sandwich Co. offers a menu of sandwiches rich in flavor, packed high with crispy, thin french fries and finished with a layer of sauce. Its hot ham and cheese sandwich would not be complete without the house-made Lusty Monk mustard aioli. It’s a simple recipe — made with Lusty Monk Mustard, mayonnaise and house seasoning — but the creamy kick of this sauce leaves a lasting impression.

The most popular sandwich, according to co-owner Brian Good, is the hot sauce chicken with house-made, spicy Sriracha mayonnaise. This sandwich offers a balanced mix of tender chicken, crispy fries and a creamy sauce that adds a little oomph to an already mouthwatering bite. You can satisfy your condiment craving with one of Good’s signature sandwiches during Sammies and Suds, a Beer Week event in which Asheville Sandwich Co. will feature a different specialty sandwich paired with an area craft beer every day at noon, May 23-31.

For a spicier, thicker house-made Sriracha-like hot sauce, head to All Soul’s Pizza in the River Arts District. Brendan Reusing is the co-owner of the restaurant and creator of its lacto-fermented chili paste. “I started making this at home a few years back because I got a case of red jalapeños, and I really enjoy spicy, fermented foods,” he says. “Roasting the red jalapeños in the wood-fired pizza oven adds great depth.” The sauce can be ordered as an extra topping and is always served with the clam and mozzarella pizza.




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