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Give Me Some Sauce Tuesday (Turkish Coffee BBQ Sauce)


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Turkish Coffee BBQ Sauce

Cardamom is the world’s third most expensive spice, right behind saffron and vanilla. To tell the truth I’ve never really had cardamom, at least that I know of. Like za’atar, cardamom seems to be popping up on everyone’s blogs. I’ve seen it in peaches and cherry ice cream. It is essential to Indian cooking and is found in Scandinavian desserts. Apparently the Vikings discovered it in Constantinople and brought it home where it has been used in Scandinavian desserts for a really long time. Chai wouldn’t be chai without cardamom and many Middle Eastern coffees also blend cardamom into the blend.

It is time. I now know there is black cardamom and green cardamom. And cardamom in the pods. I don’t know what I have except that it wasn’t in the pod. Nor was it identified in the bulk spice section at Whole Foods, except as being cardamom. To me it smells very distinct and pungent and warm. It has citrusy overtones but  it also smelled a lot like white pepper. Being in the ginger family maybe gave it the warm scent. In any case it is very distinct and once you try it you will always recognize it. Well, I think I will!

Being sauce Tuesday I thought I would try this sauce from Jake. No, I don’t know Jake either, but he is Steven Raichlen’s stepson and his sauce recipe is featured in The Barbeque Bible. If you don’t have this book and you grill, it is strongly suggested that you get this book. I’m not trying to be tough, but in this case I just want you to know that you are missing out on some great techniques and recipes if you don’t have this book.

Jake’s Turkish Coffee BBQ sauce is unique. It is different. If you want to keep everyone guessing about your secret recipe this would really keep them guessing a long time. Some folks are like that, you know. Never want to give anything away. I mean if Grandma is dead in her grave is she really going to care if you share her secret? If you are lucky, you already know. But I digress.

This sauce combines coffee and cardamom just like Middle Eastern coffee. But then it heads to Asia where it meets up with hoisin and ginger and garlic. It then traverses the Pacific Ocean to end up in the Americas where it meets cocoa. Yes, it is a worldly sauce. It is suggested to serve it with pork or lamb or grouper. I had salmon. And so it was that I grilled my salmon with a rub of spices and then topped the salmon with the sauce almost right before the salmon was done. I served the salmon on a bed of couscous with some grilled nectarines on the side. Savory and a touch sweet, the sauce worked well with the salmon.

A few notes on this sauce. When you first make it, it tastes very strong. The rabbit catcher had no clue what was in this. He described it as unique but tasty. After I let it sit a few hours it mellowed and was much better. As a sauce on salmon, it became tamer and gentle and really blended well with the fish. I can’t wait to try it tomorrow on chicken. This sauce is a wonderful introduction to cardamom and I can’t wait for more unique ways to use it. Head over here to see how it is used in cherry ice cream. This is one versatile spice!


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Jake’s Turkish Coffee BBQ Sauce (from Steven Raichlen’s BBQ Bible)

2 T olive oil
1 finely chopped medium onion
1 finely chopped red bell pepper
3 minced cloves of garlic
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 c espresso (I use the instant Meglio in a jar)
1/4 c hoisin sauce
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 t unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t ground cardamom
2 T honey
1/2 t black pepper
Salt to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic and ginger and saute until mixture has softened, about 5 minutes. Add coffee, hoisin, vinegar, cocoa and cardamom. Increase heat and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, uncovered, until thick and richly flavored, about 10 minutes. If the sauce gets to thick add water. You can now puree the sauce in a blender, but I didn’t as I liked the texture in the sauce. Add the honey which gives it a rich sheen. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Makes about 2 cups. Store in the refrigerator.

My Spice Rub
1/2 t cocoa
1 t cardamom
1/4 t ground coffee
1 t brown sugar
1/8 t black pepper
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ginger
1/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t honey
1 t vinegar
1 T olive oil

Mix together. I smeared this on 1 1/2 lbs salmon but didn’t quite use it all. I let this sit about three hours and then grilled the salmon. Top with the above sauce when salmon is almost cooked.



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A Few More to Try:
Red Chile and a Breakfast Sandwich
Roasted Za’atar Chickpeas
Avocado Corn Soup
Patatas Bravas

shannon @ a periodic table

Friday 21st of June 2013

i agree: cardamom does pop up on lots of blogs from time to time, and it is really quite versatile. I've seen people use it in both savory and sweet stuff, with equal success. I like it quite a bit, but i don't find myself using it often? weird, i know. :)this sauce looks so good! so different from a standard barbecue sauce; i'm going to have to try it this summer.

Abbe Odenwalder

Friday 14th of June 2013

Try it Lori! Better use that cardamom before it goes bad. What I saw wan't quite so much, but I was surprised, too!


Friday 14th of June 2013

This sounds fantastic! I really want to try it!

Lori @ Foxes Love Lemons

Friday 14th of June 2013

Yeah, for some reason at my grocery store (outside of Detroit), cardamom is THE most expensive spice - far more than saffron or vanilla. I needed some for Thanksgiving dinner last year, and a small container of it was $17. I was totally like "wait....what?!?!?" But you know what? I bought it anyway, and it's pretty awesome.

I'll need to try this recipe - I already have all of the ingredients!

Laura Dembowski

Thursday 13th of June 2013

I have never used cardamom in baking or cooking, but I've always wanted to. It sounds so interesting. I had no idea it was the third most expensive spice. I use more than my fair share of vanilla, but saffron is another spice I really want to try.

Abbe Odenwalder

Thursday 13th of June 2013

Now that I've tried it in this, I'm going to try it in few other things, too. Saffron is one I wish I could use more. Love the stuff! But cardamom, if you shop at Whole Foods or Sprouts, you can buy just a bit in the bulk section which makes it reasonable. In the jar, I saw it going for about $8-9, which surprised me!