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Goodbye Hot Sauce Contest!

Preliminary Judges at Serrano's Back Room, 2010

Preliminary Judges at Serrano’s Back Room, 2010

I am announcing my retirement from the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce festival. The Chronicle has graciously bought me out of the event we founded together 27 years ago. I am happy to turn the judging over to a new generation of hot sauce lovers and wish […]

25 Years of Hot Sauce!


Hard to believe I have been at the helm of the big hot sauce contest in Austin for a quarter century. I have never missed a year. It’s one of my favorite days of the year.

Check out what Austin Chronicle Editor, Louis Black had to say about the event 5 years ago, […]

June 2015 Recap

[View the story “Junebugs and BBQ ” on Storify]

Recap: The Texas Mexican Table: 2015 Foodways Texas Symposium

[View the story “Recap: 2015 Foodways Texas Symposium” on Storify]

Duck Larb and Other Isan Delights


Hot and spicy Isan Thai food is brimming with fish sauce, bird chiles and fresh herbs–with none of the comforting coconut milk found in Southern Thai cuisine. Sour sausage with raw cabbage, peanuts and bird chiles may not sound like a typical Thai dish, but it is a favorite Isan bar snack.

There […]

Tex-Mex Symposium in Old San Antone

Foodways Texas

2015 Foodways Texas Symposium

“The Texas Mexican Table” 5th Annual Foodways Texas Symposium May 7-9, 2015 San Antonio, Texas

Tickets on sale: Members – $290 Public – $325

Buy Tickets Here

Join us in San Antonio as we celebrate “The Texas Mexican Table.” Our discussion will cover Mexican food in Texas in its many […]

Update: Kudos for Hot Sauce

Review in the Oregonian: “In a nutshell: If you like to pour on the heat, you’ll dig the firepower in this new cookbook of pepper sauce recipes. Rather than offering creative uses for bottled sauces, hot sauce authority Robb Walsh shows how you can create fresher versions using chiles, fresh veggies and basic […]

Homemade Cayenne & Tabasco Sauce

Jim "Pepper Rancher" Sherman

Jim Sherman, my gardening guru, told me to meet him at a raised bed garden this morning. He was trying to clean the place up to get it ready to plant the fall and winter crops. The last plants left over from the summer were peppers and they were out of control. There were so many red ripe cayenne and tabasco peppers he couldn’t pick them all. The birds were having a field day. He had been reading the series about Homemade Pepper Sauces on this blog and knew I could put some peppers to good use.

read more Homemade Cayenne & Tabasco Sauce »

b-10: 2nd Generation Houston Vietnamese

The Vietnamese steak and eggs at b-10 are a new take on the classic bo luc lac, the Vietnamese dish better known as “rock n’ roll beef.” At b-10, they use high quality filet mignon marinated with lemongrass instead of the authentic chewy cuts served in Vietnam. The steak and egg combination is an American coffee shop breakfast favorite and the sizzling comal is borrowed from Tex-Mex. I puzzled at the plastic cup half full of pate and half full of mayo. “Stir the pate up with the aioli and spread it on your baguette, that’s what the kids do,” my tablemate Thuy Tran instructed. It was excellent advice.

Thuy Tran and her mom Thu Ho filled me on the complicated saga of their Vietnamese restaurant. b-10 Vietnamese Cafe was called Givral when the banh mi and pho restaurant on Bellaire was first opened in 1988 by a Vietnamese man named Hoang. The most popular order there has long been b-10, the barbecued pork banh mi sandwich. Recently, the restaurant changed its name from Givral to b-10 Vietnamese Cafe and opened a satellite sandwich shop at Westheimer and Hillcroft. The name change ended the confusion among the three Houston Vietnamese restaurants named Givral–the other two are Givral on Milam and Les Givrales Kahve on Washington.

The namesake of the Houston restaurants was the original Le Givral Cafe which was located at the corner of Dong Khoi and Le Loi streets in Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City. For over 60 years, the historic Le Givral Cafe was the favorite meeting spot for travelers and Saigon-watchers. It closed in April of 2010 when the owners of the building decided to demolish the center for new construction.
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Indonesian Deviled Eggs

This hybrid of Indonesian telor balado and Deep South church picnic deviled eggs will rock your cocktail party. The egg yolk filling is seasoned with Indonesian sambal, Squid brand fish sauce, chopped green onions, anchovy paste and Thai chiles. You can make them hot, very hot, or ridiculously hot.

Indonesian sambal is a complex hot sauce that combines a base of shallots, garlic and ginger with tamarind and your choice of other flavorings, all ground together in a mortar and pestle with a lot of red hot chile peppers. I added a little tomato to my sambal to smooth it out. And I used a Vitamix instead of the mortar and pestle because I am lazy.

The sambal recipe is for my new project, The Hot Sauce Cookbook from Ten Speed Press (May 2013). Once I had the sambal ready, I used it to make Sambal Eggplant and Telor Balado, an Indonesian dish of fried hard-boiled eggs topped with Indonesian hot sauce.

This morning I was working on a deviled egg recipe for the Louisiana pepper sauce chapter of the book. I started with the very old church picnic recipe in James Beard’s American Cookery that combines mayo, mustard, grated onion and Tabasco sauce. Beard listed a bunch of variations, including a “Mexican” version with cumin and sour cream and another with chopped green chile. Then I remembered the deviled eggs I ate at Grove restaurant in Discovery Green, made with mayo, anchovy and fish sauce.

The connection between American deviled eggs and Indonesian telor balado is so obvious, I am sure somebody must have come up a hybrid like this before. But tell me about it later, right now I am enjoying my breakfast.

(Recipe after the jump) read more Indonesian Deviled Eggs »