We've all been there. The question you want to ask but you're horrified by the internet shaming when your foodie friends realize you don't know the difference between napa (the cabbage) and Napa (the Valley).
Introducing: This and That
So we're kicking off our super, highly-researched series "This and That" (so new, we're not even sure we're keeping the name) - answering all the questions you're too bashful to ask. Not the high-minded, save-the-world Qs, just simple things we think we should already know. Hence, why none of us admits it when we're out to lunch on the whole napa, or Napa?
Look no further than today's menu and you'll see two dishes: Tamari Flank Steak Bowl and Tamarind-Lime Chicken Noodle Salad.
They kinda, sorta sound the same, right? But are worlds apart.
Exec Chef Curt Martin gives you the scoop, so you'll never wonder again: Tamarind, or Tamari - what's the what?
Tamari (the sauce)
Tamari is your (nearly) wheat-free alternative to Soy Sauce. Very similar, both are naturally fermented in the same manner. Main difference: Tamari is usually made without or with very little wheat. Meaning, amazing (nearly) gluten-free alternative. You'll often see it subbed in for Soy Sauce in recipes as a wheat-free option depending on the product you use. Ours is completely gluten-free. We love its deep colour, slightly thicker consistency and, bonus, it's generally less salty - awesome for dipping or marinating.
It's all over our menu. We use it in our house marinades/dressings. Flank Steak along with Brown Sugar, Asian Pear, Scallion & Ginger.
Tamarind (the fruit)
Tamarind, from the tree, is a fruit. Known for its sour-sweet qualities, you'll find it in Asian cooking - specifically, Indian, Thai and Malaysian, for starters - and some Caribbean areas like Jamaica and Trinidad.
Tamarind pulp makes a great base for marinades, chutneys and sauces.
Gluten-free Tamarind & Lime Tofu Noodle Bowl - marinated Tamarind Tofu, Thai glass noodles, Thai basil and cilantro with sweet chili sauce.
- Tamari's the sauce (very little wheat, often wheat-free).
- Tamarind's the fruit that comes from the tree.
Both are essentail to sauces and marinades (both Asian and Caribbean) and, hey, look at that - they're all over our menu.
- Napa (the cabbage) is widely used in Asian cuisine.
- Then there's Napa (the Valley), fertile Cali soil and home to vineyards, restaurants and top-rated Chefs.
- You're welcome.
Tell us what other foodie Qs you're clueless about - or, things you want to know so you can impress your friends at your next underground dinner.