Six More Condiments That Will Change The Way You Cook
Have you found yourself stuck in a rotation of the same four or five mundane herbs and spices? Do you keep throwing cayenne pepper in everything you cook just so you can feel something? It’s time to shake things up, MOB.
Adding a new condiment to your kitchen cupboard can be a complete game-changer. Adding six can be a life-changer. Not only will trying out some new spices and sauces bring some excitement back to your meal times but they can also help you think about the way you cook in a completely different way. Subbing in gochujang for ketchup, for instance, can do more than add a subtle shimmer of heat to simple marinades and sauces you’re already familiar with. Understanding the basic taste profile of that paste can teach you a lot about Korean cooking and the building blocks of flavour which that cuisine most regularly deploys. Learning why certain dishes require certain condiments can make you a better cook.
I know that I’ve already done a rundown of six condiments that will change the way you cook, but I thought: why stop there? I'm constantly looking to help you up your kitchen game and I can't see the harm in throwing some more recommendations your way. I know that many of you will already be familiar with some (if not all) of these condiments. But not everyone knows as much as you do, mate – so don’t shame any novices for not knowing their way around the spice cupboard just yet.
From sambal to liquid seasoning, here are six more condiments that will improve your cooking and change the way you cook for the better.
Sambal Shiok is a lovely laidback Malaysian restaurant in north London and their signature shrimp sambal is a must-buy for anyone looking to add some fragrant heat to their curries. Dried chillies provide the heat while dried shrimp paste offers an umami depth to this powerful condiment that’s also packed with lemongrass, garlic, and tamarind paste. It’s a little sweet, a little hot, and a lotta funky. Add a dollop into your curries for a shortcut to flavour town and spoon it over freshly cooked rice for maximum pleasure.
A combination of Sichuan chilli peppers and fermented bean paste, pixian doubanjiang is capable of adding a mouth-numbing málà to whatever you decide to plop it in. This salty savoury paste adds a rich flavour and colour to everything it touches and is best when be deployed liberally in any Sichuan or Sichuan-inspired recipe you might be attempting in the kitchen. The moment you start stir-frying with this stuff for the first time is a lot like the moment Jack leaves the room he’d been housed in for his entire life in Room; a completely life-changing sensory overload. If you haven’t read or watched Room yet, you really should. Right after you’ve bought yourself a jar of pixian doubanjiang, that is.
Hot honey. Honey that’s hot. Simple as that. Honey Moon from Moon Hot Sauce is a pleasantly piquant honey – made from London bees – that comes with a warming tingle on the back-burner which makes it a lovely addition to heaps of different dishes. A blend of raw local honey and fresh scotch bonnet peppers, it’s especially great on pizza and barbecued bits of meat. Nonetheless, you can drizzle this stuff in salads or even on scoops ice cream if the desire takes you. I’ve yet to find a situation where this hot honey doesn’t at least add a bit of intrigue. Use it wisely, and liberally.
White people recommending that “you just gotta try gochujang, man” has become something of a meme as of late but I’m willing to risk being ridiculed as a food writer desperately late to the party if it means I can introduce at least one person out there to the wonders of gochujang. This sweet, savoury, and spicy soybean and chilli paste is a staple of Korean cooking and an essential building block of dishes like budae jjigae and bibimbap. Store it in the fridge once it’s opened and use it to add a peppery depth to just about everything.
Asafoetida (aka “hing”) is a spice that you might take a while to warm to – its smell is particularly pungent – but once you’ve mastered its subtle nuances, you’ll be using it in a range of different dishes. Asafoetida has a smooth, garlicky, allium-like flavour that you can use in place of fresh garlic to add a muster to a daal or curry. It works best in Indian cuisine but, that being said, don’t be afraid to go wild and incorporate it into whatever you fancy. You might just find it brings some life to your mediocre chilli con carne.
Maggi Liquid Seasoning
This. Stuff. Is. Amazing. I don't know what else to say, really. The best way to describe Maggi Liquid Seasoning to someone who’s never had it before is that it’s a kind of magical manna – a seasoning that can, with just a few drops, make wherever you’re cooking taste better and taste more like itself. Is your stew missing that moreish edge that propels your spoon back to the bowl until it's empty? Add a bit of Maggi Liquid Seasoning to it. Is your stir fry lacking in that savoury grunt? Add some Maggi Liquid Seasoning to it. It’s not hard to see why this stuff is beloved all over the world. Get adding it to your cooking and you’ll immediately start seeing results.