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?
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.
Different oils, Worcestershire sauce, cheese (think feta, etc., can't get that flavor elsewhere), bacon, ham hocks.
I do a lot of Asian cooking so I would be lost without my fermented pastes and beans, oyster/fish sauces and cooking wines.