ZAK: Back in episode #185, Savitha Viswanathan talked about making an Indian miraproix, a really strong flavor base you can use in a bunch of dishes.
SAVITHA: Onions, garlic, ginger and green chile.
ZAK: We're gonna go down a similar road today but in an entirely different part of the world.
CYBILLE: My name is Cybille St. Aude Tate. I am a children's book author and chef.
ZAK: More advice in packing in flavor efficiently and effectively today on Food Friday.
CYBILLE: Epis is like the golden goose of Haitian gastronomy. Epis is used as a marinade for meats or for fishes. It's also used as a flavoring base for soups and stews and rice dishes. And originally, it started off as kind of being scraps or whatever you had in your fridge, kind of coming together and being pureed as something that you could just, kind of, hold and utilize whenever you needed it. So, the basis of it is a flavor-additive but it's also a celebration of all the tasty, aromatic aspects of Caribbean cooking. The beautiful thing about epis is that you can make it on a lazy Sunday and you'll have it in your fridge for weeks. It's great too because you'll pack all your flavor in there and you don't have to consume yourself with adding too much salt or sodium or extra stuff to you meals because the epis really takes care of it all.
ZAK: What about ratios? How should we be thinking about how much of each thing to include?
CYBILLE: That's also the beautiful thing about epis and the most frustrating thing about certain Caribbean food elements is that when our aunties and grandma's are making these things, they're just throwing things in there. So my rule of thumb is that I make to make a big batch of it...I use a lot. You can't buy half a bunch of cilantro, right? You have to buy the whole bunch of cilantro and so to control your waste with that, I'm letting those herbs that I have to buy large quantities of kind of navigate how much I'm preparing because if I don't have another use for the cilantro, it's gonna go bad. Cilantro goes bad so quickly. So, I just use like a bunch of cilantro, a bunch of parsley. A head of celery, two bell peppers. Just making sure that the ratio is somewhat proportionate and equal and even. And no epis is created equal. Someone might not like cilantro. There are so many cilantro hater out there! That's like a thing.
ZAK: Yeah, it's very divisive.
CYBILLE: Yeah. So if you don't like cilantro and parsley's your jam or if neither of those work for you, you can pick another herb. You can pick thyme, basil, rosemary. Just make sure that not one element is outshining the rest because you really want a nice complimentary, well-bounded flavor or seasoning because it's easier for it to adapt to the many applications of this one dish.
ZAK: I put an epis recipe in the show notes today. Remember, it's interpretive. Make it what you want. You should follow Cybille St. Aude on Instagram. She's doing some really interesting work at the intersection of food and culture and community.