Trendy ramps can be over-harvested, but here's a recipe for a delicious fermented green sriracha sauce that uses only the fragrant ramp leaf.
Chef Alan Bergo loves to incorporate wild foods into his cooking. When working with ramps he often runs out of the bulbs much quicker than the leaves, so he came up with this spicy sriracha sauce that relies on the ramp leaf and saves the bulb.
Bergo is the Executive Chef at Lucia's restaurant in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and his blogsite, Forager Chef, is a real feast for those of us who love to seek out wild foods. His culinary experiments are adventurous and creative, as he features wild ingredients prominently in his well executed dishes.
If you're concerned about over-harvesting slow growing ramps but still want to get all of the flavor, this is the hot sauce recipe for you.
Here's the recipe directly from Chef Bergo's blogsite:
Yield: roughly 2 cups
- 2 lb jalapenos
- 8 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 lb ramp leaves
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup flavorless oil, like grapeseed
1. Wearing gloves, trim the jalapenos, and remove the white pith and seeds from half of them and discard.
2. Coarsely chop the jalapenos, then combine with the salt and sugar. Place the mixture in an air tight container, like a mason jar, then cover tightly with plastic wrap, pressing it down onto the surface to remove excess air and cover the jalapenos with their juices.
3. At the restaurant, I weight down the mixture while it ferments too, just like sauerkraut. We do this by weighing down containers filled with jalapenos with bags full of cold water, at home, you might double- wrap 2 freezer bags inside of a mason jar, then pour in water and press down to remove all the air from the jalapenos. Allow the mixture to ferment for five days in a cool, dry place away from light and heat, remove the weight and stir the jalapenos once a day or every other day, replacing the weight each time.
4. After five days, Remove the jalapeno mixture and all the accumulated juices and cook on medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally until very soft and most of the juice has evaporated, about 20 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil and blanch the ramp leaves just for a moment to wilt. Immediately transfer the ramp leaves to an ice bath to chill and preserve their color, then remove and chop.
6. In a high-speed blender, combine the ramp leaves and slightly cooled jalapeno mixture. Process the mixture, gradually adding 1/2 cup of the flavorless oil while it's pureeing to help make the sauce extra smooth.
7. Strain the sauce through a chinois strainer, pressing down with a 2 ounce ladle to speed up the process. (This step is optional, but recommended)
8. Chill the sauce as quick as possible (I spread it out in a wide pan to cool with plastic wrap pressed on the top to prevent oxidization). When cooled, transfer the finished sauce to a labeled, dated container and refrigerate until needed.
Chef Bergo says in his prelude to the recipe:
You may read the recipe and wonder why I say to throw away half of the seeds of the jalapenos and keep the rest. I found that I got a decent amount of heat from only using half of the seeds from the particular jalapenos I was using, but if you like it spicy, or if the peppers you're using are more mild, use more seeds for a spicier hot sauce, by all means.
If you have some ramp bulbs laying around too, they add great flavor to this, but I don't include them in the formal recipe since the point is to focus on the leaves. If you want to use whole ramps in this, add a few tablespoons of chopped bulbs to the jalapenos when you toss them with the salt and sugar before fermenting.
Give this recipe a try. And when you're out harvesting ramps, be conscientious about your harvesting. Take more leaves than bulbs if your area is under duress from over-harvesting.
Enjoy the bounty that nature provides!
Like what you see here? You can read more great articles by David Smith at his facebook page, Stumpjack Outdoors.