Are your tastebuds sick of adding spicy sauce to every meal in the hopes of it upping the flavour? Mine are, and have been for quite some time. In fact my cupboards are a red-sauce-free zone nowadays. Instead, a small can of salty, umami-rich, oil-laced paste sits proudly by itself, a beacon of potential. It goes by the humble name of ‘AGV Vegetarian Barbecue Sauce’ - but let me tell you, it is much, much more than the usual bottle of tomato, sugar and salt-filled BBQ sauce currently sitting in your fridge door.
Discovered in my local Asian grocery store, this paste hails from Taiwan and the bulk of it is made from soybeans, sesame and peanuts among some other spices such as coconut powder, curry, chilli, cinnamon and clove. Ahem, there are also a few numerical “flavour enhancers” but we’ll overlook those for now! The contents of this can instantly elevate anything you want (or dare!) to add it to. The label says it’s best “To Make Fried Hot Pot Food Tasty”, but I have a few more ideas.
Put aside your preconceived opinions of that sweet-smelling BBQ sauce you put on your eggs and bacon, please (or erase completely) and approach this paste with a blank canvas. Spread it on a toasted baguette and layer with some thinly sliced leftover pork chop from last night. Add some lettuce, carrot and shallot if you feel so inclined... BOOM. A makeshift banh mi appears.
Or, try my personal favourite combo, a saucy soba noodle dish, whipped up for a mid-week dinner. Now, I’m not going to measure this out for you, I want your tastebuds to choose their own adventure. Mix some of this magic Barbecue Sauce with tahini, white white wine vinegar, a tiny bit of water, a little brown sugar and a squished garlic clove. Add this to freshly cooked soba noodles (only after you’ve run them under cold water!!!) and BOOM #2. A tasty noodle dish appears. Add grilled chicken, pan-fried broccolini and some chilli flakes if you feel it’s needed. Enjoy!
Head into any asian grocer and ask if they have it. I get mine at (the very aptly named) Miracle Supermarkets in Marrickville.
No Asian supermarkets near you? Order a bottle online here. You won’t regret it.
For more of our team's favourite finds, see Here, Try This Thing