Flavor Foundation: Soy Tea

Seaweed noodles, Dungeness crab, red curry, and crème fraîche
Seaweed noodles, Dungeness crab, red curry, and crème fraîche

Just over a decade into their successful restaurant run in Seattle—with Joule, Trove, and Revel—Rising Stars alums Seif Chirchi and Rachel Yang launched Revelry in Portland, complete with a live DJ spinning during service and the joyous, Korean-inspired cuisine for which the couple is known.
 
One thread that runs through all their restaurants is Chirchi and Yang's not-so-secret special sauce, a soy “tea” that they use in about 40 percent of their menu items. “The core of what we want is the opportunity to infuse flavor into every aspect of our cooking,” says Yang. “Since we use soy sauce in so many dishes, as a restaurant group, we wanted to have a unique blend.”

To make the soy tea, they burn the alcohol off sake and add aromatics: chiles, coriander, peppercorns, ginger, lemongrass, bay, thyme, and lemon and orange rinds. After a 15-minute boil, the sake infuses at room temperature for 2 hours before the mixture is strained into a mixture of Kikkoman soy and mirin. Each restaurant goes through a 22-quart Cambro each week. “Kikkoman has a flavor that can work with anything. It's mild, available to everyone, and easy to source,” says Yang.
 
At Revelry, the soy tea hits dishes as diverse as their wildly popular Korean fried chicken with spicy peanut brittle, and their nod to Seattle, a bowl of seaweed noodles, Dungeness crab, red curry, and crème fraîche (pictured above). “It's a versatile foundation, a starting point for dishes to have these bright, citrusy, and sweet flavors and aromatics—rather than one particular flavor. You can build a sauce or literally stir it into rice and get all these great nuances,” says Yang.

The soy tea is a potent tool for building flavor across Chirchi and Yang's Relay Restaurant Group. For diners, it's subtle flavor memory, an I-can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-why-this-is-so-damn-good dynamic of their cuisine.

Presented by Kikkoman

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