The Hoss Soss Journey: From Costa Rica to Banh Mi

hoss soss

As a culinary journeyman, Matt Kuerbis’ cooking career didn’t start with Asian food. He began behind a fryer full of chili rellenos and the tortilla press at the Boulder outpost of a small gourmet Colorado Mexican chain.

He traded up after he moved to Seattle and worked in the open kitchen at Wolfgang Puck’s Obachine. “It was an intense working environment,” he says. “You had to be constantly on because you weren’t just cooking, you were performing.”

Then, he was a pantry cook with Lindbad Special Expeditons, spending summers in southeast Alaska and winters in the Sea of Cortez, Mexico. Kuerbis eventually became Sous Chef. On the boat, a staff of three cooked three meals a day, seven days a week, two months straight for 100 people. The crew would then take a month off.

After long hours in professional kitchens took its toll, Kuerbis decided to go back to school and earn a Master’s degree in teaching from Portland State University. After graduating, a chance opportunity landed him at Le Cordon Bleu’s Portland school. A second chance opportunity ascended him to Director of the academy.

A number of life changes led Kuerbis down to Costa Rica where he lived on the beach teaching English. Another serendipitous meeting between his fiancée (in Hawaii at the time) and two people on vacation led him to becoming Head Chef at Finca Mia Retreat Center for the 2015/16 winter seasons. He plans to return to the tropics this winter for year three while managing the growth of Hoss Soss from afar.

The Hoss Soss journey began as a recipe he originally designed as a one-off for Oregon’s What The Festival, but with an entire crew raving about the sauces, he decided to put it into small-scale production. Technically a hot sauce, the Bi-Bim flavor comes from a silky combination of vinegars, peppers, and a secret blend of spices. The Soss is really a jack-of-all-sauces that runs wild on anything from kale to a ribeye.

Kuerbis is currently working on an early winter launch in stores around Portland, but for now, Hoss Soss can be ordered here.

Below is the recipe from today’s Facebook Live session:

Hoss Soss Bi-Bim Banh Mi Sandwich

Bi-Bim Aioli

  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons Bi-Bim Hoss Soss
  • 3/4 cup canola oil

Whisk together all ingredients except oil. Once all other ingredients are whisked together, slowly whisk in the oil drop by drop. As the oil incorporates into the rest of the ingredients you can pour a bit faster while continuing to whisk. If the mixture gets too thick you can add a touch of water.

Banh Mi Sandwich Ingredients

  • 1 French baguette cut into three 6-inch lengths
  • 1 pound chicken or pork, cut into short strips and marinated in 1 tablespoon Bi-Bim Hoss Soss, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 Tablespoon soy or Tamari soy sauce
  • 1/2 red onion, julienned
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into 2-inch sticks
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, stems trimmed
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and cut into strips

Short pickle of red onion and carrot

  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat rice wine vinegar and whisk in sugar and salt until dissolved. Pour mixture over onions and carrots in separate bowls. Place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Sandwich procedure

1) Cook chicken or pork over med-high heat in a sauté pan until cooked (about 5 minutes depending on size of pieces). Set aside.
2) Slice open the baguette pieces and toast in the oven until crispy but not burned.
3) Spread Bi-Bim Aioli on both sides of the toasted baguette. Spoon in chicken or pork, and also spoon any pan juices onto the bread for extra flavor!
4) Place pickled onions and carrots over the top of the meat, then add cucumber and Jalapeño slices. Finally, top with fresh cilantro.
5) Add a final drizzle of Bi Bim Hoss Soss to the top of the sandwich.