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Brewing beer, curing meat, or making cheese? Tell us about it
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Flavor!

i
ItalianNana Apr 12, 2013 12:52 PM

Thinking of ways to help a novice cook I ordered her a book about herbs and spices. It got me thinking that I depend on lots of things other than what's in the spice cabinet. Onions and garlic are a given. Then there's soy sauce, mustard, vinegar, wine, etc. I might also include tomato sauce and paste.

What pantry or refrigerator staples do you depend on for building those layers of flavors we all love?

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  1. lamb_da_calculus Apr 12, 2013 01:13 PM

    Used judiciously I think anchovy paste and fish sauce can provide what's usually referred to as "body" or "umami" (without being noticeably fishy).

    1 Reply
    1. re: lamb_da_calculus
      i
      ItalianNana Apr 12, 2013 01:39 PM

      lamb,

      I was shocked decades ago to learn that the taste I so loved in Ceasar salad dressing was anchovy!

    2. h
      HillJ Apr 12, 2013 01:22 PM

      without would leave a dish flat:
      fresh ginger, black pepper, salt, cumin, roasted garlic, shallots, rice vinegar, tomato paste, lemongrass paste, wine & beer, paprika, vanilla extract, cinnamon, chocolate, mustard, soy sauce and sesame oil, thyme, red pepper flakes, light cream and buttermilk.

      2 Replies
      1. re: HillJ
        pinehurst Apr 12, 2013 01:28 PM

        HillJ covered it well. I would add lemon (to brighten flavors) and sour cream (to add richness).

        1. re: pinehurst
          h
          HillJ Apr 12, 2013 01:30 PM

          I was just coming back to add lemon!...hadn't thought of sour cream...and limes are pretty important to my dishes as well.

          Butter should probably be there too.

          Bland food...makes me sad.

      2. m
        MrsJonesey Apr 12, 2013 01:25 PM

        Different oils, Worcestershire sauce, cheese (think feta, etc., can't get that flavor elsewhere), bacon, ham hocks.

        1. JungMann Apr 12, 2013 01:41 PM

          I do a lot of Asian cooking so I would be lost without my fermented pastes and beans, oyster/fish sauces and cooking wines.

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