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Condiment crazy

Ladies and gentlemen, here's the request, which as the pedigreed chowhounds that I know you are, you will honor.

What are different common condiments that are widely used in various parts of the country or world.

For example, there is currently a thread about catsup on mac and cheese in the US. There's a significant part of the population that does this, though it seems weird to others.

Now if you personally love soy sauce on chocolate ice cream ... that doesn't count .. that is just you. Or even the current thread of black pepper on grapefruit .... great tasting, to most, but not really common.

In Guatemala there is the condiment holy trinity ... mayo, catsup and green chilitepe sauce. All three get squiggled on a lot of stuff ... Fries, corn ... pizza. I'm not in love with this trio.

Some people put catsup on chow mein ... ok, but for me, like catsup on mac and cheese, not my thing.

However, that green chilitepe sauce on Chinese food ... sheer greatness ... wonderful on wontons or added to any dish. Chilitepes just have an affinity for Chinese food. That sauce can be bought at most Latino markets in the US. It is called Picamas.

So what in the world are other countries and different parts of the US commonly doing with condiments?

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  1. In Brazil ketchup and mayo can be used together on any kind of snack food: pizza, hot dog/burger, grilled cheese. Basically you squeeze both on, take a bite, then squeeze more on for maximum use. The mayo is so prevalent that there are ads by the health board saying "homemade mayo kills" and I think even a number you can call to rat on restaurants using homemade mayo. (I love homemade mayo made fresh and haven't ratted on any restaurants, but some of them don't do a good job and make it just to save money.) "Molho Rose" or salad dressing with ketchup, cream, maybe a bit of mustard and Worcestershire. There are other things which are used in a sense like condiments, in particular potato sticks which are put on hot dogs and hamburgers, to garnish salads. When you buy kebabs on the street, you have the option of rolling them in farofa (manioc meal) which is also used over eggs, beans and they may gets sprayed with a garlic sauce. With hot peppers, Brazil differs from Mexico and Peru in not making pastes. As such although a basic tabasco style sauce is everywhere, pepper sauces are also less common, so what is more common are conserves either in oil, vinegar, or alcohol of peppers. A restaurant which offers a homemade one, will generally give you the jar and a straw to drop how ever many drops you feel like.

    Although I prefer malt vinegar for fries, a good mayo is quite good, and also like variations on dynamite sauce which I occasionally make in Brazil to eat with fried food. Keep in mind that an aioli is often served with paella dishes. (I am also always up for gravy fries.) Sandwiches are also good with Heinz Salad cream or with butter in place of the mayo (particularly with a nice butter and a sharp cheese.

    I have to say, I am a fan of some versions of Columbian Arroz con Pollo which use ketchup instead of their tomato base and use hot dogs. I guess the ketchup is an ingredient,but the hot dog is more of a condiment. I could almost eat it with some potato sticks on the top and a bit of aioli on the side. :-) Ketchup and mustard are also used as ingredients in Brazilian "strogonoff ."

    I am also not certain that its a condiment, but depending where you are in Brazil bananas maybe be put on the table and some people mash them into their food -- rice, beans, stew. I think its more because for some people mashed food is preferred: mashed spagetti with ground beans, a paste of beans rice and farinha (flour), etc.

    6 Replies
    1. re: itaunas

      Great list. I haven't been to Brazil, but I've eaten a lot of Brazilian food in the US. It's funny but it is sort of like Guatemalan food in that by itself it can be really bland. It is the adding of peppers and condiments that brigns it to life.

      I was eating a lot of Brazilian snack food and totally underwhelmed and then I discovered the magic of catsup and mayo. Otherwise, some of it is like eating a hot dog without mustard ... or whatever your condiment of choice is for a frank. Few eat a naked hot dog on a bun.

      1. re: rworange

        rworange the seasoning of salgadinhos can vary a lot and some are frankly a lot more bland than they should be. Others are overseasoned in not a good way: too much annato or paprika, heavy on the salt. And there is the overcooked chicken breast which is common.

        But you can get ones where homemade chicken broth is used in the dough (many at least use boullion), where better ground pepper is available, even where whole chickens are shredded and "tempero verde" is used (cilantro, parsley, green onion). So there definitely are ones which aren't improved by mayo and ketchup. Also in the Bay Area you should chase after what Goais is known for since I think there are lot of immigrants from there, which is not salgadinhos. I am partially joking, but there are great differences in taste and seasonings across Brazil. People think Brazilian's like hot food, but outside of Bahia food is not hot and only those who prefer add peppers (although in Goias they do use a pepper I like pimenta do bode). And outside chicken hearts offal isn't so common, but is really big in the Northeast (caldo de mocoto, sarapatel, buchada do bode). I think more so than the US there is a lot of regional variation, which alone can be interesting.

        1. re: itaunas

          Thanks a lot. I had not considered what part of Brazil the local population would originate from in the Bay Area. I know with Portuguese, there are mainly Azorians.

        2. re: rworange

          rworange because we were talking about snack foods, I forgot to mention a most ubiquitous condiment in Brazil which is 'vinagrete' which its commonly called or 'molho de vinagrete.' You simply can't have a Brazilian churrasco without this (and in my opinion farofa). Some people eat it over rice, others with meat. Although its similar to a pico de gallo/salsa cruda, green peppers are a big part, its not as acidic as most salsas (vinegar is used more than lime and often watered down more) and a bit soupy, also both parsley and cilantro can be used. Oil is also added, mostly commonly soy but also olive oil. I'd say the order of the 3 big is ketchup/mayo, farofa, and vinagrete but all are important.

        3. re: itaunas

          Itaunas, I am very curious about Brazil. Has the health board outlawed the preparation of homemade mayo by chefs in Brazil? If they prepare it and use it on food in their restaurants, is this substance "bootleg mayonnaise," just as we had "bootleg liquor" during the United States' prohibition? And are a lot of people actually being killed by homemade mayo? I am not being sarcastic. I'm honestly curious. Thanks!

          1. re: gfr1111

            I can provide a few more details. I know there were some well publicized cases of sickess related to mayonnaise "caseira": in particular one case in São Paulo where 106 people became sick with salmonella. So several states and many municipal governments have errected statutes against the use. The advertising campaign I saw was “a maionese caseira é a delícia que mata” which refers that salmonella (or e. coli or staph which they are also concerned about) could kill. I am not certain whether anyone has died and its been associated, although I know a someone who works in public health tracking epidemics for the federal government and will ask.

            Whether its homemade mayo or commercial, some snack providers add different seasonings -- whether its fresh garlic and parsley or dried marjoram, and oregano. But there are not good sources for sterile versions of those like the US, so that is another way bacteria can enter. In some cases the laws prohibit repackaging commercial mayo too. I have first hand knowlege of a health inspector telling a local restaurant that they can only use ketchup-style sachets of mayo for their pizza customers, while at the meantime almost all local lunch counters have squeeze bottles, rarely kept in the fridge (expondential growth is as much a concern as the incident bacteria) and I know of several which do serve homemade mayo.

            I have seen text out there that mayo is the largest cause to intestinal infection, so certainly the official line is strong like prohibition, but I would tend to doubt that. There are dairies which do not have quick chilling and pasturization equipment (in the better cases what they don't sell raw by 9am is turned into cheese). Livestock is field killed, then driven long distances to a butcher and some meats are sold in the open air at farmers markets. Salting and drying ingredients is common (and in general a "homemade" industry, plus a true "delicia"), but not all producers properly protect their product from flies and other concerns, but in the worst cases use diseased animals. Hot peppers are conserved in oil with fresh garlic without addition of acid (sometimes cachaca is added to help macerate and may help with sanitization, but not certain) -- I very much enjoy peppers picked in oil. Plus there are cases of lapses in basic food handling such as cross-contaimination -- using the same knife for raw and cooked meats, not separating cutting boards. And most kitchens do not have running hot water, nor do they take the time to heat water for cleaning or use chemical sanitizers.

            So I am not certain its the biggest concern, but its one that has gotten a lot of attention. Where restaurants show common sense, the health inspectors do appear to be fairly flexible. So its not like the US where restaurants can't advertise that they use sous-vide or have to use zip-loc bags so its not officially "under vacuum." Brazil is also a different culture, if an official accuses you of a violation you are expected to argue and at length. Imagine a restaurant owner in the US arguing for 3 hours with a health inspector on the street in front of his restaurant, perhaps even calling the inspector's mother's names and so on. Here it would be the comedy of the moment and shortly forgotten as people would go back to eating his homemade mayo. :-)

        4. When we travel we try to see a movie at a local movie house. Of course we get popcorn:
          In Mexico it is common to put ketchup on popcorn.
          When I ordered my popcorn in Lisbon I was asked "Salt or sugar?"
          Great memories!

          3 Replies
          1. re: Motosport

            Is it either or ... or sometimes both. Is that buttered or unbuttered popcorn? The sugar sounds like it might be good. I've just had a chip and popcorn craving in the last few weeks and might give the sugar a try.

            1. re: rworange

              I worked for the popcorn board here in the US and traveled to Mexico for snackfood shows, etc. and Popcorn is commonly served as street food with a squeeze of lime and tabasco also! Plain unbuttered popcorn.

            2. re: Motosport

              They had the salty/sweet popcorn choice when I lived in London. I would order half and half and mix it up. They thought that incredibly odd.

            3. This could get very long-winded. One of the few bones of contention between my roommates and I is that I have colonized the refrigerator door with an army of Asian condiments. Sadly they're right, but I just can't bear to part with all these items that have such idiosyncratic uses and cannot be substituted.

              Sweet chili sauce (Thailand) - dip for fried foods, particularly seafood and spring rolls
              Green/Desi/Bhel Puri/Tomato chutnies (India) - everything
              Sriracha (Thailand) - everything
              Shrimp paste (Philippines) - salad dressing, saute base or to eat with oxtails
              Maggi Hot n Sweet Chilli Sauce (India) - burgers, chicken nuggets
              Ajvar (Turkey) - as a dip or with grilled meat
              Tonkatsu sauce (Japan) - fried foods
              Miso (Japan) - soup base, marinades or mixed with sesame oil for a dip for grilled meat
              Banana ketchup (Philippines) - hot dogs, fried chicken or spaghetti
              All Purpose Sauce (Philippines) - roasted meat or as a stew base
              Peanut Sauce (Thailand) - satay or mixed with onions and mayo for fries

              There are certainly plenty more, but a lot of them serve a bases for cooking sauces and are common enough that I'm sure someone else will cover them.

              2 Replies
              1. re: JungMann

                I was thinking more of a condiment, like the banana ketchup in the Philippines, rather than a base for cooking sauces which really could get long. Ingredient-wise. Mahler powdered chicken consume gets added to a huge number of dishes here, but it is an ingredient and not used as a condiment.

                1. re: rworange

                  A lot of times there is overlap. Piri Piri sauce in Portugal is a well used condiment, but its also part of the base for galinha a africana/frango de churrasco (and is also excellent in a sauce for shrimp) and its not that far removed from massa de pimentao (sweet pepper paste) which is exclusively used to season things.... and I would say both are linked to harissa. A lot of the ones above have dual functions.

              2. Some of mine have been mentioned already but I will add ajvar to Croatia and Bosnia (a few oher countries) as well. They eat it as we eat ketchup. We always bring some back with us.

                LOVE the mustards in Germany and England. Prince of Wales Ketchup is lovely with elderberries, anchovies, etc. Pistou in Provence is amazing. Amongst others, Italian favourites are bagna cauda and caponata and pesto.

                We all know about Marmite - aside from a spread can be used as a condiment. And of course there is the infamous Worcestershire. Brown sauce is prevalent in the UK, too, as is mint sauce. Tartar sauce with fish and chips is another, of course.

                Although I have not been to Ethiopia according to Marcus Samuelsson papaya ketchup is big there (and I make it at home). Of course there is berbere in northern Africa, too, sometimes used as a rub or as a condiment. Dukkah is another that can be used both ways.

                Then there are the obvious salsas, masalas and so on.

                1. In my corner of the US, I noticed Sriracha seemed to be appearing everywhere. Once it showed up on the condiment counter of my workplace cafeteria a year or so ago, I realized it had officially become part of the standard condiment canon.

                  1. I could and do eat mayo with a spoon. Love Sriracha. Like JungMann says, sometimes I look in the fridge and think it's full and I don't need to shop and then I realize it's just bottles and jars of sauces, peppers, mayos, mustards. I have to say, the one condiment that I really love and have taken big swigs from the bottle when no one was looking is A-1. I used to spice mine up by myself but then they came out with the Bold and Spicy. Holy crap. It instantly transports me back to my youth and warm summer evenings in Northern NJ eating grilled London broil and corn on the cob on the back porch.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: southernitalian

                      Yeah, but this isn't about condiment love in general, but the use of condiments that are different and common in various areas.

                      But you remind me that ceviche in Guatemala is accompanied by a bottle of Worcestershire sauce and catsup. Actually it is good ... not so different than cocktail sauce for shrimp, I guess.

                    2. Harissa, a fiery-hot but very flavorful pepper paste, is a North African condiment I've been getting to know and love. Most of the hardcore Moroccan-food freaks I know of (like my friend David) like to get the stuff and mash up their own, but it's very popular in France, so of course there are factories there putting it into jars, cans and tubes. "Le Cabanon" is my favorite of these; I found a seller on Amazon and got a case of a dozen tubes. It's great for coating fish or meat you're going to bake or grill, especially if you mix it with olive oil or mayonnaise, or a mixture of both. I'm going to do that to some pork chops I'm oven-roasting tonight.

                      Speaking of condiments you can cook with like that, there ought to be a whole thread somewhere dedicated to Trader Joe's Wasabi Mayonnaise. Use that last night spread over sockeye salmon filets set skin-side down on a rack in a big gratin pan, 18 minutes at 350º (shoulda been 15 minutes, but good anyway).

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Will Owen

                        How is it commonly used in France?

                        I would start a thread on 'favorite condiments', but it would be one of those long ones I know I would regret starting, no matter how interesting ... I'd rather read a thread like that from a far rather than participating.

                        I'm hoping for wide-spread regional or country specific use of condiments.

                        1. re: rworange

                          I'll have to ask. I know that among former habitants of La Reunion the taste for its native green pepper sauce (also quite fiery, along with a milder red) is a given, and the restaurant in Nice where we attended a gathering of such people was becoming more and more popular with the locals. France's African adventures seem to have inspired a taste for spicy stuff much as England's Indian episode did for them. My sister-in-law, from the country around Chartres, has a passion for merguez, the spicier the better. Being from farming country myself I am not at all surprised about this.

                      2. The one condiment that I go crazy for is branston pickle. I will eat it in the morning on an english muffin.

                        1. Had a chorizo sausage at a friends who is from Uragauy and he offered chimichurri sauce for it. It is oil with parsely and some other spices. I'm not into sausages, however I could eat a lot of them with this sauce......it is wonderful. He says they use it on all their meats while and after cooking.

                          1. I generally use my favorite condiment for breakfast. I usually have the some egg whites and veggies with Tapatio Sauce. I know it's not very exotic but I love it. It really helps to break up the blandness of a meal like that. It's also really good on Mac n' Cheese.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: timj04

                              I give up. I guess my OP and other posts just are not clear on the concept. So good enough, we find out houw some peopler personally use condiments differently. It's all good if people eat more deliciously. Perhaps the problem is in the title.

                              Yep, I like Taptio sauce to perk thinks up as well.

                              1. re: rworange

                                I think it took me a few reads to get the topic you want. Are you just looking for the interesting ways people use condiments across the globe? The way Mexicans in Chicago dress their corn cobs with mayo, hot sauce and cotija cheese? Or the Dutch combine mayonaise with peanut sauce and onions to create a dip for fries?

                                From the OP I thought that you were just asking us what condiments we have.

                                1. re: JungMann

                                  Yeah, what you said in the first paragraph.

                                2. re: rworange

                                  I think your title is very clear and would love tohear more about different condiments from around the world.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    See my above post about popular condiments I've had in different countries. So, your post was clear!

                                3. If we're talking interesting uses, I think the sweetened mayonnaise one encounters in the Orient as an accompaniment for fried seafood is quite the success.

                                  1. in south korea, jjajang myon is a national obsession. for those who don't know, its a noodle dish with a black bean paste sauce that is served in "chinese" restaurants. the sauce is made from a paste called chunjang, a bean paste that is as dark as molasses.

                                    when you go to a chinese restaurant in korea they will serve you raw onion and tanmuji (pickled daikon, its basically takuan, the japanese pickle) with a side of chunjang. you dip the raw onion (rinsed, i think, because its sweeter and not pungent) or slices of tanmuji in the chunjang sauce, which is very salty with a bit of caramel flavor. and they give you kimchi, of course. but this use of chunjang seems to be the only way you'll encounter it in korea: at a chinese restaurant at which jjajangmyon is one of maybe four dishes you would ever think of ordering. i've never encountered the chunjang dip and the onion and pickled radish as part of the panchan spread of a typical korean meal. but always at the chinese restaurants, which are as popular as pizzerias are in the US

                                    1. I just came home with a new-to-me goodie from my local Indian store. Maggi-brand Chatpat Sauce. It's a spicy tomato ketchup or tomato chutney. Not lethally hot. On a related subject, the wonderful product known as Filipino banana ketchup is labeled banana sauce when sold in the U.S. Worth trying ... doesn't taste at all like bananas. Comes in regular and hot versions.

                                      1. sour cream in Eastern European Jewish cuisine. it goes on fruit, latkes, blintzes, borscht, pickled herring & lox...

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          As an MOT myself I can say that there is no food that cannot be improved by the liberal application of sour cream.

                                          Switching continents and condiments, my favorite non-US find is aji, which I first encountered in Ecuador. It is on pretty much every restaurant table and can be applied to anything savory--it's a pepper-based sauce, but not terribly hot. Yum!

                                          1. re: travelmad478

                                            As an MOT myself I can say that there is no food that cannot be improved by the liberal application of sour cream.
                                            yep, i'm convinced we're genetically predisposed. i'll never forget the first time my Southern Episcopalian college roommate saw me eating a banana with sour cream for breakfast...she was horrified :)

                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                              I LOVE bananas and sour cream but now that I am above age 8 and know the calorie content of that meal, I satisfy myself with a daily serving of bananas and strained lowfat yogurt. It is nowhere near the same thing, but at least it looks the same!

                                              1. re: travelmad478

                                                ha! well i can't eat bananas anymore, so it's just strawberries with sour cream for me now.

                                                you should try low-fat sour cream...the quality brands really do taste almost as good as full-fat. out here my best option is Daisy, but you should be able to get Breakstone's by you.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  Actually I love yogurt and am fanatical about eating it every day. I have a belief, perhaps confirmable, that it has magical health-giving properties and has kept my stomach free from ailments in the last 15 years of traveling in developing countries. In fact, yogurt can be a condiment, too. I'm in India right now and it's available in little pots at pretty much every meal. (Forget about low-fat, though!)

                                              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                Sliced banana, sour cream and a dash of cinnamon was a staple at our home. Yummy!!

                                          2. Itaunas, your description of the use of condiments in Brazil is perfect, right down to the batata palha on hamburgers and hotdogs. I remember in Recife seeing people use corn as a topping on things too (like hotdogs and coxinhas). Also manteiga da garrafa, that little bottle of funky smelling clarified butter that is often on the table in Pernambuco. I also can remember people putting condensed milk on sweet things like sweet popcorn and churros.

                                            In other places I have been I have noticed that people often use ketchup more than they do in the U.S., which surprised me because I always thought of America as the land of ketchup. In Eastern Europe I often have seen people put ketchup on pizza. There usually is a choice between spicy ketchup and normal ketchup. In Romania in particular there is a condiment called mujdei that is a very strong garlic sauce. It's usually served with grilled pork or fish, but you can order it in restaurants with almost everything. It's great on pizza and fries. It also is a common offering to put on fast food sandwiches (șnițel and șaorma). In Hungary there are Edes Anna and Eros Pista paprika pastes that I have seen people put on sandwiches. In Bulgaria crumbled up feta-type cheese finds its way on things like french fries, and is delicious.