IT’S RED’Z HOT
MARQUETTE – It was years ago Teresa Mauldin first tried the Korean barbecue dish known as bulgogi. Now she has a bulgogi barbecue sauce of her own.
Touted as a “Korean inspired Yooper wave of flavor,” RED’Z Bulgogi BBQ Sauce first hit store shelves in late July, and has since spread to being offered at nearly 40 establishments throughout Marquette County and other places in the Upper Peninsula.
“It’s still kind of surreal,” Mauldin said of how her product has been received.
Mauldin described RED’Z as a sweet and spicy soy-based sauce with “a little kick towards the end.”
“You can do anything with it,” she said. “You can baste, or broil or you can inject it in your Thanksgiving turkey. It just adds a different flavor to anything you normally like.”
Mauldin, who lives in Suomi location, a few miles south of Palmer, rents kitchen space at the Steinhaus Market in Marquette, where she and her daughter make the marinade.
“I started with a home recipe, and I had to come up with a commercial recipe,” she said. “So my commercial recipe was a case worth. Well, making it by the case was too difficult, so now we make it by eight cases at a time, and we can maintain that. I work full time and (have) a part-time job, and then we do this at night. Two or three times a week sometimes, we’ll make eight cases at a time, so we always have some on hand. But it’s always as fresh as it can possibly be. I usually try to make it when I think the stores are going to be selling out, or they’re going to need some; I’ll make a batch, or two or three.”
Before she started stocking store shelves, Mauldin went to Michigan State University in Lansing and attended a Better Process Control School, where she was certified to manufacture her product commercially.
Though RED’Z is a fairly new addition to grocery stores, Mauldin has been using her recipe at home for quite a while.
“Thirty years ago I worked with a Korean woman (at a bar) in North Carolina,” she said. “We put on a feed for all the GIs – I did all American, she did all the Korean – for all the GIs who couldn’t go home for Christmas. … But she made this stuff called bulgogi, that I loved.”
Fifteen years later, Mauldin was talking with a friend who was stationed in Korea with the military and who knew a bulgogi recipe.
“It was really close,” to the recipe she remembered, Mauldin said. “I changed some ingredients and added some ingredients, and did a process that makes it the way I remember it from 30 years ago. For 15 years I had kids who were graduating, didn’t want graduation money or a present, they just wanted me to bring my bulgogi.”
In addition to preparing meals for friends and family, Mauldin said she was hired to make the dish for weddings, and eventually two chefs were interested in buying her recipe.
“So I thought well I should probably do something about this,” she said, which is when she began preparing to sell the sauce commercially.
“It’s kind of different,” she said of the whole experience. “I don’t really know what to think. I hope it balloons out. Everybody who has tried it so far seems to have enjoyed it.”
The marinade’s Facebook page shows several five star reviews from people who have tried RED’Z on a variety of foods, from fish to hot dogs.
“It’s just good on anything. It just changes the flavor of any ordinary meat that you have,” Mauldin said. “In fact, the other day, my husband and I were making hamburgers, and I thought let’s throw some in there. So he just put it in a bowl and I threw some in there, we mixed it up and he cooked them on the grill and they were fantastic. I was surprised. After all these years of making it, I never tried it in hamburgers before, and it worked out great.”
Mauldin said she has sauce recipes for different degrees of heat, but currently only sells the medium level one.
She’s also working on a website that will feature recipes and an online ordering system, though she currently ships orders to customers if they request it.
“It’s kind of all over the place,” she said. “I’ve sent it as far away as California, Florida, Colorado – people ask for it, I’ll ship them one.”
Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 270. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.