Preparation / Directions:
As a long time aficionado of Eastern North Carolina style Barbecue, I have been intrigued by the origins of the vinegar/red pepper sauce used by the pit masters in that region. It is unique among all Barbecue finishing or dipping sauces in that in contains no tomato extracts--owing to the fact that, at the time of it's origins in the 1600s and 1700s, tomatoes were thought to be poisonous. What was used instead was "English Ketchup", a concoction containing cider vinegar, red peppers, spices, and oysters. This basic blend is in use to this day with one notable exception--the oysters have been discarded.
Well, I got to wondering what that original Barbecue might have tasted like, seasoned with the English Ketchup of the time. Having no reference and no clue as to how oysters were incorporated into the original mix, I instead decided to substitute nuoc nam--a Vietnamese fish sauce made from fish extract, water, and salt. While I cannot say this is an exact replication of the nation's original Barbecue finishing and dipping sauce, it is in all likelihood a pretty decent semblance of what our colonial ancestors seasoned their Barbecue with. In addition, it's also pretty damn tasty, IMHO--complementing, rather than masking, the smoky rich sweetness of slow cooked Barbecue.
Simply combine all ingredients, and let alone to marry for one or two days before using. If you use it as a finishing sauce, add about 12 ounces of the sauce to roughly three pounds of smoked and pulled pork Barbecue in a cast iron pan, add water to cover, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce *just* barely oozes over the Barbecue when pressed down upon with a spatula. Or, just mix with smoked and pulled pork Barbecue before serving if using as a dip.