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Nov 9, 2012 11:33 AM


So, what condiments would you have a difficult time cooking/living without? Mine are mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, soy sauce, and hot sauce of any kind. I use them plain, of course, but mainly I appreciate them for the flavor boost and/or convenience that they provide to other dishes.
What are yours?

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  1. "Condiments" is one of my favourite words in the English language. Honest. I make almost all except:
    - soy sauce
    - Worcestershire
    - fish sauce
    - Sriracha
    - finishing salts, vinegars and oils (but I do make my own blends)

    Those I make:
    - BBQ sauces
    - pesto
    - ketchups
    - mustards
    - mayonnaise

    I have the distinct feeling I am missing a few very obvious things...

    12 Replies
    1. re: chefathome

      Sweet and dill relish for tartar sauce. The obvious one you missed are the condiments that optimistic young men who can't spell carry in their wallets.

      1. re: Veggo

        Relish - of course! I love to make tartar sauce. Your response made me laugh.

        1. re: Veggo

          Those, I make. I'm nowhere near chefathome's level of expertise when it comes to that kind of home cooking (and was never ever once challenged to do it in a restaurant) but since I love home canning and preserving, relishes and chutneys are definitely the things I do myself. That being said, I'd love a not-too-sweet ketchup recipe, if anybody's got one to share!

          1. re: mamachef

            Oh, do I have ketchup recipes. I'll go through them and get back to you. Do you find canning and preserving therapeutic? And then you get the bonus of eating what you have created!

            1. re: chefathome

              Yep. I totally find my Zen in the kitchen, indeed I do. And I thank you in advance, for those recipes. I'll be looking forward to them, so I appreciate that generosity.

        2. re: chefathome

          FISH SAUCE!!!! Only started using that this year and wow~!

          1. re: pinehurst

            Isn't it amazing how one can live years without it and then use it once and become hooked? It is ESSENTIAL!

            1. re: chefathome

              We have a bottle around, but we keep a jar in the fridge with fish sauce and cup up chilies (Thai chilies are preferred).

            2. re: pinehurst

              I love on the fish sauce too, but because it has a distinctive flavor in larger applications, I've got to stick w/ my choice of soy sauce, as it's more familiar to the palates of the people I cook for. They're not picky eaters, but for general purposes, yeah: I'd have to stick with soy. At home however, I use it all the time. Would NEVER attempt to brew my own though, because I'm lazy and I hear it really really smells during the fermentation:)

            3. re: chefathome

              I find the word condiment makes me giggle childishly as it sounds too much like condom.

              1. re: bonobo

                Agree it can cause confusion and some embarrassment.
                Several years ago I went to a department store and asked a sales assistant if they sold condiment sets.
                She looked at me rather confused and and suggested that I might try a chemist instead.
                I thought this response was odd and then twigged that she had misheard me, Being only 16 I slinked out of the shop.

                1. re: Paprikaboy

                  When Mrs Harters was at school, she had a Saturday job at the chemist's. She used to see men sort of slink into the shop, clock that it was a young girl on the counter and slink out again without buying the, erm, "something for the weekend". That was the 1960s, though - now every pub has a condom vending machine in the gents bogs (and possibly the women's ones as well).

            4. Oh good heavens, yes, yay Condiments!

              1) Mayo--good Mayo!--I use it copiously on sandwiches and to keep chicken, etc, moist when broiling.

              2) Dijon salad dressings, on pork, a little dab in cheese sauces for a punch.

              3) Sour cream...plain as a garnish, or swirled into all kinds of goodies, hot or cold

              4) Soy sauce

              5) Canned Diced tomatoes (all sorts of things)

              1 Reply
              1. re: pinehurst

                I think I think..........those diced tomatoes qualify as a veggie, not a condiment. :)

              2. Aha! I knew I had forgotten some. Sour cream. Creme fraiche. Greek yogurt. Whipping cream. Do these count??

                Love Umami #5 but I could live without it.

                10 Replies
                1. re: chefathome

                  Yup, yup, yup I make a ton of them too......and chutney, sweet and savory jam, "curds" of all things citrus, homemade "cream cheese" from sour cream and "yogurt cheese".

                  1. re: sedimental

                    Butter. Is butter a condiment? I make it in the food processor and love to make interesting compound butters for the freezer.
                    Oh, Duxelles......always have those in my freezer too.

                    1. re: sedimental

                      Butter is not a condiment.
                      Butter is a food group.

                    2. re: sedimental

                      Yes - our pantry is lined with homade chutneys, jams, jellies, fruit butters, nut butters...

                      And I think butter can be a condiment. Compound butters - oh, yes! I don't even know how many kinds I have in the freezer. When we buy truffles in Europe truffle butter. And duxelles.

                      Tomato paste. Preserved lemons.

                    3. re: chefathome

                      chefathome, what do you find to be the major difference between Umami#5 and plain old MSG?

                      1. re: mamachef

                        Umami #5 tastes earthier, almost sort of mushroom-y. As a paste it blends so nicely and can stand on its own with some cream as a pasta sauce, for example.

                      2. re: chefathome

                        I don't think those dairy foods qualify, though......but I'm no facist. By this do you mean that you use them as add-ins, toppings?

                        1. re: mamachef

                          I didn't think they counted. I got slightly carried away! However, I do use creme fraiche as a topping to swirl in soups along with some spicy pepitas.

                          1. re: chefathome

                            In that context, it certainly works as a condiment. Maybe it's the choice of words? I dunno. But yeah, that works for me. I like it used that way too!

                      3. I would've said Tabasco a few years back, but now it's that plus Tapatio and a screaming fluorescent-green habañero sauce that's killer with eggs. Soy sauce, both Japanese and Chinese for sure, and the other things chefathome mentions except for finishing salts. I can do without hot chili oil, but I'd rather not. Ketchup, mustards and mayonnaise I buy, though I make mayo frequently too, and I always have to have Trader Joe's wasabi mayo on hand.

                        One item I love and miss is the French Le Cabanon brand of harissa paste. It's a delicious alternative to Sriracha, a bit less heat and a more complex flavor. I bought six tubes from an Amazon site to save shipping costs, and by the time I was finished with the second one the rest had all gone bad, bursting open and messing up the canister I'd put them in. So I'll get some more and refrigerate them this time …

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: Will Owen

                          You reminded me of more. Yes, harissa. That brand sounds good. I have never bought it as I make my own but it would be nice to have some on hand in case. Love your story. :-)

                          Capers. I would have a difficult time without them.

                          Can I include honey? We always have at least five kinds of honey on hand.

                          1. re: chefathome

                            There are two brands of harissa paste that I've seen, and I've tried both. Le Cabanon wins out for me because it's more coarsely ground and has a fresher flavor; the other (can't recall the name) is as hot but otherwise undistinguished. One favorite use for it is to blend it into some mayonnaise and spread that over fish filets before baking them; works for lamb chops too

                            I wouldn't have considered capers a condiment, but I guess they are used that way. I always add some to pico de gallo to top panbroiled fish. The rest of the time, though, I'm mostly just really glad they last a long time!

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              Coarse ground harissa is best in my books as well. I have not tried it with mayonnaise on fish or lamb - that sounds wonderful! Will keep that in mind for sure.

                              Capers are a condiment at our house - we go through the huge jars like wild. If you have not tried fried capers, do - it is a revelation. They "bloom" and become light and crispy.

                              1. re: chefathome

                                Fried capers. That sounds delicious

                                1. re: suzigirl

                                  Fried capers ARE delicious, suzigirl.

                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                    I had a bad experience with capers the first time and they tasted like kerosene. They were old and breached by fingertips in the jar(why do people do that to pickled items?) I gave them a shot years later and am never without them in my fridge. But fried? I am southern. Fry me a flip flop and i am in. I am so going to hook up with fried capers soon. I am thinking all by themselves or tossed on a salad with lemon aioli. What other ways are good?

                                  1. re: pinehurst

                                    Simply in hot olive (not extra virgin) oil. All it takes is about 30-60 seconds and they sort of puff up a bit. They are sooooo tasty as a snack and also sprinkled liberally on all manner of food including fish, pasta dishes, baked potatoes, duck, lamb, on cheese/charcuterie boards with mostarda, Mediterranean dishes, whatever. Anywhere you desire a briny crunch. The flavour changes when fried, sort of like garlic becoming more mellow roasted. It was a revelation to me the first time I tried them. I am very, very addicted to the little suckers.

                            2. re: Will Owen

                              I love Tapatio, but have to give a shout out to my beloved Cholula.

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Going on the list of things to try: Le Cabanon harissa. Love the stuff, especially used as a rub for lamb or chicken, or mixed into plain yogurt as a marinade for a multitude of things or as a baste for grilled vegetables. Yum. Thanks for chiming in!

                                1. re: mamachef

                                  Mama chef, I just had a brunch dish that included " Harissa cream" over poached eggs. It was amazing.

                              2. Linghams sweet chili sauce from Malaysia is sometimes the perfect fit.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Does parmesan count? Cos I use it like a condiment and I'm not making my own.

                                  1. re: Paprikaboy

                                    Mmmmm: Parmigiano's a food, IMO, not a condiment. I don't think cheese qualifies. :) But don't let me rain on your parade. :)

                                  2. re: Veggo

                                    OMG that is good stuff, isn't it? When I can find it, that is. I love it as a dip for Vietnamese Fresh Rolls.