Chef Jonathan Waxman, of New York's Barbuto and Nashville's recently opened Adele's, may be known for his highly sophisticated Italian fair, but it was his childhood in San Francisco that introduced him to the flavors of Asia. At one memorable childhood meal in Chinatown, a dish of perfectly moist boneless fried chicken was served with a dipping sauce he still dreams about today. Waxman was too shy to ask what it was, but years later as a professional chef, he came up with his own blend of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil that "wreaks havoc" on some of his more traditional dishes.
Waxman walked us through the many uses for his combined "holy trinity" of condiments.
The pungent blend does wonders for all manner of marinades, and a little bit goes a long way. Massage it into skirt steak, let sit overnight and grill. Chicken needs about two hours in the soy-sesame bath before going into the oven; salmon just 45 minutes.
Take any dumplings or potstickers, sear them quickly for some color, gently steam them in the same pan, then turn off the heat and add the sauce, swirling it around to lightly glaze the dumplings in the last minute of cooking. The sauce adheres to the surface dough, adding a sweet and salty kick to a quick meal.
Waxman recommends using classic Yukon Gold potatoes. Boil and mash them in the pot, adding nothing but a bit of the steaming water to fluff them up, then make a well in each plated scoop and pour in a pool of the sauce. No butter, no cream—just pure flavor.