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secret ingredients

what is (are) your secret ingredient(s) that makes your version of a dish freaking incredible?

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  1. for me it really depends on the dish, but Truffle Oil or a good Sea Salt can make a difference.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Infomaniac

      When in Provence, I picked up a small jar of sea salt mixed with saffron fronds from a vendor at a market in Isle sur la Sorgue ... adds a wonderful touch to grilled fish or steamed mussels when sprinkled lightly just before serving. Would be very easy to recreate with any good quality sea salt and midrange saffron threads.

      1. re: djh

        WOW...thanks for the tip...I have some saffron threads too.

    2. Anchovie paste mixed in with almost any Italian sauce gives it a great depth of flavor. Actually, it doesn't even have to be an Italian sauce; I've used it in all kinds of sauces and gravies.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bostonbob3

        Also worcestershire sauce, which is anchovy based. I put it in everything containing red meat.

      2. There are some old threads on this topic, btw, you might want to search.

        My classic is adding shredded parsnip to my trademark Karlslaw.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Karl S

          Would you be willing to part with your entire "Karlslaw" recipe? :)

          1. re: Funwithfood

            I'm copying this from a Thanksgiving 2004 thread on this site:
            Here's my general recipe, which I had to write down because it has been much requested over the years (probably the most requested thing I ever make: insurrections happen when it is missing from a feast unless I warn certain folks when I am *not* planning on serving it!).

            As a general preparation note: I like to cut, salt, rinse and drain the shredded and cut veggies the day before serving, put it in a heavy plastic bag and then squeeze the remaining moisture out, through a small hole cut from a corner of the bag, just before seasoning.

            Adapt as you like it:

            Karlslaw (this is more a cabbage-based shredded salad than a true slaw)

            Vegetable ingredients: proportions are completely variable.

            -1 large (or, better, 2 small) head(s) green Savoy cabbage (has fine, ribbed leaves), shredded [Chinese cabbages could also be used, as they are a bit sweeter and less sulfurous that common white cabbage]
            -1 small head red cabbage, shredded (smaller heads of cabbage have thinner leaves) - use no more than 1 part red cabbage to 2 parts green cabbage
            -Italian parsley (flat leaves, not curly), minced (adds an essential lemon flavor)
            -1 red sweet pepper, diced coarsely
            -1 yellow sweet pepper. diced coarsely (opt.)
            -1 peeled carrot, shredded or peelings
            -1 peeled parsnip, shredded or peelings (use less if you don’t like its nutty, sweet flavor, but I consider it a vital ingredient, along with the parsley)
            -1 or 2 ribs celery, diced thinly (adds a slightly salty note)
            -1 hothouse English cucumber (the long ones; use 2 if you de-seed them; even better are the wonderful Japanese cucumbers), quartered and sliced medium. I don’t peel these cucumbers, but you can if you wish, or you can run fork tines down the sides.
            -White part of one medium leek, sliced finely and loosened up (opt.)
            -any other small non-leafy vegetable you like (e.g., peas, diced broccoli florets, diced fresh tomato pulp, etc.; use your imagination for color, flavor and texture)

            Seasonings: add no more than an hour or two in advance of serving
            -12 to 24 fl. oz of a sour-cream dressing of your choice (only enough to moisten all vegetables evenly) [alternatively: 3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill mixed with 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or mild vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 tablespoons minced onion, 3 cups sour cream and/or plain yogurt, and 1.5 teaspoons ground white pepper]
            - 1 or 2 tablespoons of sweet pickle relish (opt.; to taste); alternatively, some kosher or dill pickle brine, to taste [you could also try diced olives or capers if your guests will appreciate them]
            -Celery seed (a critical seasoning), dill seed and/or freshly chopped dill, to taste
            -Freshly ground black or white pepper, to taste

            and, just before serving:

            -Salt, to taste (adding this too soon will cause the vegetables to exude too much water before serving)

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            1. re: Karl S

              Thanks, I'll put it into my "to make" pile. :)

        2. Here is the link to a thread on this topic a couple of months ago.

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          1. I find that dry mustard makes the difference in several dishes

            1 Reply