What The Heck Is Michigan “Zip” Sauce?
I've learned a lot about foods and drinks since I moved to Michigan. I've seen the promised land with authentic U.P. Pasties, Mackinac Fudge, downed Superman Ice Cream, slugged some Faygo and Vernor's (which are now staples in my fridge at home), and fallen in love with the local breweries.
But what is this new thing I've come across on the internet called "The Original Zip Sauce?"
I'm a midwest guy, so Ranch Dressing has always been my go-to when it comes to any type of added sauces or dressing to my food. Occasionally, I'd reach for some ketchup for fries, or BBQ sauce for some pork or chicken that's been a bit overcooked.
But Zip Sauce? No idea. Never heard of it. What's it for?
The tagline reads, "The Original Zip Sauce... just add butter."
JUST ADD BUTTER!?!?! Did Paula Dean make this stuff?
(Actually, if she made it, there'd already be butter in it, so that can't be right)
WHAT IS ZIP SAUCE?
Well, thanks to the internet, I can get some context clues to work with. Chevydetroit.com posted something on the sauce that kind of gives me an idea.
"For newbies, Zip Sauce is one of those mysteries that make Detroit famous for its food and legendary restauranteurs. Like the stories behind who was in the Purple Gang, or what happened to Jimmy Hoffa, there is controversy behind what goes into Zip Sauce, who created the best version and how to make it at home."
So as the description goes, this is essentially a sort of steak sauce... or at least, that's what most people use it for. "The ultimate compliment to steaks, soups, seafood and even vegetables."
So what's it made of? Because I've had steak sauces before, and I can't even begin to describe this flavor. Well, turns out, THAT'S a bit of a controversy, too.
"The actual recipe for Zip Sauce, much like Spongebob's Krabby Patty, is a closely guarded secret."
There is some stuff that kind of stuck out. There's definitely a buttery texture to it, which makes the whole "Just add butter" thing a little curious. But there's definitely a beef flavoring, maybe a stock, worcestershire sauce, and maybe mustard, garlic, stuff like that.
Otherwise... I have NO idea what this stuff is.
Turns out, it was started at Lelli's in Detroit along Woodward Avenue. It's a Northern Italian-style restaurant that was REALLY high end. Once they created their famous "Zip Sauce," it was all out. People from all over the country travelled to try the sauce on their food.
It's trademarked now as "The Original Zip Sauce," but not by the Lelli family. His name is Michael Esshaki, and he got started as a waiter at the Lelli restaurant. He claims it's the original, right recipe... secrets and all.
So I guess there's another staple I have to add to my fridge... and stock up on the butter.