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Michael Gulotta’s Pantry of Asian Flavor Boosters

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Once obscure to most Americans, staples of
southern Asian cuisine are now becoming ‘go-to’
ingredients in home kitchens.

MoPho Ingredients List
GULOTTA’S PANTRY OF ASIAN FLAVOR BLASTERS. Your local Asian market is your new hangout (but you can also order products online).

Shrimp Paste

Gulotta always keeps jars of shrimp paste on-hand, frequently adding it to simple boiled pasta with olive oil. “It’s a southeast Asian condiment that we should be using in our cuisine. It consists of baby shrimp cooked down with garlic and chiles. Throw in a tablespoon to your favorite dish and the taste goes through the roof.”

Nuoc Mam

Although an Asian ingredient, Gulotta cooks with this variety of fish sauce at his Italian restaurant. Surprisingly, it’s consistent with ancient Roman and Greek recipes that called for “garum” which is nothing but fermented fish sauce. “We rub lamb shoulders with nuoc mam, garlic, and citrus rind. It bolsters so many of our dishes.”

Vietnamese Cinnamon

“From the cassia bark, this is super strong cinnamon. It’s a bit spicier than our cinnamon. You cannot make pho without it.”

Lime Leaf

At MoPho, Gulotta grows lime trees on the deck and keeps leaves in the freezer. “The lime from the Makrut tree is hard and not edible, but the zest has a powerful lime flavor. We use the entire leaf like a bay leaf and throw it into soups.” He also grinds up the leaf and makes aioli with it, which makes the lime flavor pop.

“The lime from the Makrut tree is hard and not edible, but the zest has a powerful lime flavor. We use the entire leaf like a bay leaf and throw it into soups.”

Handmade Curry

The chef grinds his own curries into a mash. Why buy the powder when you can easily make your own? “The smashing of the cells extrudes flavor and aroma.” His favorite curry is a North African version that he mixes with Asian spices. The curry consists of toasted coriander seeds, lime leaf, shallot, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass.