Fort Greene Chef Churns Out Probiotic Hot Sauce
FORT GREENE — It's spicy, it's artisanal and it's chock-full of health-boosting live cultures.
Chef Sunny Bang, a sous-chef at the Strip House Midtown, spent almost a year concocting and perfecting a special probiotic hot sauce, which is sold at stores around Brooklyn.
Sunny Bang Probiotic Hot Sauce, which costs $14.95 for 8 ounces, is made with four simple ingredients: Red Holland chili peppers, sea salt, white wine vinegar and filtered New York tap water.
The sauce goes through a month of lactic fermentation to allow healthy cultures to grow, similarly to how yogurt, kimchi and kombucha drinks are prepared.
"It's the right time for a sauce like this because people are more health-conscious and leaning toward fermentation," said Bang, who lives in Fort Greene. "I love the idea of a natural, healthy sauce that adds the benefits of live and active cultures."
Bang collects his ingredients from local growers, including a farmer in Pennsylvania who grows the chili peppers at her small farm. He tracked down a batch of aged white wine vinegar made by a monk at Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery in upstate New York.
His sea salt is made "through the evaporation and reduction of seawater in solar greenhouses and shallow pools" in Maine, by Maine Sea Salt Company. And the water Bang uses comes right from the tap.
The idea for the sauce came to Bang after he took some time off in 2008 from his culinary work — which included a five-year stint working for chef Tom Colicchio — to be a stay-at-home dad. His plan was to spend time with his kids, visit farmers markets, create new recipes and cook for his family. But stumbling upon cherry tomatoes at a market inspired Bang to create his first batch of hot sauce, which he perfected over the course of 10 months before returning to work in the restaurant industry in 2009.
The first incarnation of his sauce was a hit among his friends and family, so Bang continued to perfect his creation.
"It was like a science experiment at our house," said Bang's wife, Angela Batra.
Bang's hot sauces can be found at Greene Grape Provisions in Fort Greene, The Brooklyn Kitchen in Williamsburg and Fleisher’s in Park Slope, plus at the With Love From Brooklyn Kiosk in Grand Central Station.
The sauce was also recently featured in Bon Appétit magazine.
"I used the best ingredients I could find," Bang said. "And the fermentation process brings the flavors out so you can really taste the full pepper."