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Oct 30, 2013 10:52 AM

The New Condiment Basics

SO. I started a board on condiments yesterday, but while the suggestions all sounded great, if I were to follow the advice of everyone there, my fridge would become entirely comprised of condiments (instead of just mostly).

What I'm wondering is what essential condiments you think the general populace - people that aren't foodies - is missing out on. Everyone has ketchup. Everyone has mustard. Everyone has mayonnaise, and BBQ sauce, and salsa, sriracha, and Frank's Red Hot. But what ESSENTIALS, are they missing?

I'm looking for a maximum of three condiments you'd nominate to sit alongside ketchup and mustard.

I ask because I'm working on a blog right now. Things I'm considering based off the suggestions I saw on the last board - Harissa, Maggi Sauce, Ponzu, Chilli Oil. Agree? Disagree?

UPDATE NOTE 1: The list of things everyone has is not exhaustive. Several people mentioned soy sauce, but let's just pretend I included that and every other basic, basic condiment out there.

UPDATE NOTE 2: When I say "everyone" I'm speaking in hyperbole. What I'm getting at is the average, non-foodie American.

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  1. I go by what I grab the most:

    honey-ginger vinegar (I infuse my own)
    pomegranate molasses
    hoisin sauce (which wasn't on my list in your other thread).

    8 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      We used to use an awful lot of hoisin.

        1. re: HillJ

          I don't make as much stir-fry/Asian food as I used to because once my husband started covering it all in hoisin he complained that everything I made tasted the same. SMH

      1. re: HillJ

        When you use hoisin as a condiment/dipping sauce do you fry it in oil first?

        1. re: Gloriaa

          No and I'm not familiar with doing so. Is there a reason for frying it?

          1. re: HillJ

            I have heard that it takes the 'rawness' out. I do it but keep thinking I should do a taste test. I am thinking I might have seen it done on Ming Tsai's show.

            1. re: Gloriaa

              I have never thought of Hoisin as a raw product. I believe it is a soy paste that's been cooked down with other ingredients to form a flavorful sauce base?

              I love the stuff.

          2. re: Gloriaa

            No. I don't always use it straight though. Also I am very particular about brand. I think my favorite is Lee Kum Kee.

        2. I'm curious to know how you define condiment. In your previous thread half the suggestions were the dipping sauces and spreads I typically think of as a condiment. The rest were anything from spice mixtures and herbs to syrups and indeed whole pickled fruits, all items I'd consider cooking ingredients, but not something to use in its raw state as a condiment.

          6 Replies
          1. re: JungMann

            Good point. I wouldn't consider spices, herbs, spice or herb mixs, or whole or chooped anything, to be condiments. Though, I would personally put syrups in the condiment category.

            1. re: gastronomics

              Definition via Merriam-Webster: con·di·ment noun \ˈkän-də-mənt\ : something (such as salt, mustard, or ketchup) that is added to food to give it more flavor
              Origin: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin condimentum, from condire- to season

              I like Lemon Pepper (first ingredient in the mix is salt then black pepper), Tajin (again, salt with red pepper) and Herbes de Provence to season items.

              Of viscous items, fish sauce, garlic-chili sauce and a good olive oil season most foods, if they need seasoning.

              1. re: Cathy

                I'm not arguing that the dictionary defines spices as condiments, it's just that they're not what I'm looking for.

                Fish Sauce and garlic-chilli sauce are good ones!

                I guess I use olive oil as a condiment, but it feels more like an individual ingredient to me.

                  1. re: Cathy

                    Let's pretend I put soy on the list above. I didn't list every condiment I'd consider a basic, but soy sauce, while delicious, is definitely among them.

                    1. re: Cathy

                      I would not put lemon pepper in the condiment category personally.

                1. Soy sauce
                  Maggi sauce
                  Oyster sauce
                  Black bean sauce
                  Scotch bonnet sauce

                  Sorry, but three ain't gonna cut it for me. YMMV.

                  1. Not everyone has ketchup. We rarely ever have it. And we rarely ever have commercial mayo, I just make it when I need it.

                    I can do three categories but not 3 individual condiments:

                    Hot things: sauces, pastes, fermented, etc.
                    Vinegars: balsamic, wine, flavored, etc.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                      Okay, yeah. Not EVERYONE has ketchup, or eats bread, or has a TV, or thinks Elvis is dead, but my point is that ketchup is considered a condiment basic. It's so basic, McDonald's charges for BBQ but gives ketchup away for free! They would never dream of asking customers to pay for it. It's so basic, we consider ketchup a right.

                      1. re: gastronomics

                        What people consider "basic" and "essential" is directly related to what foods they consider "normal" and what their personal needs are. Of course, I don't eat bread, or have a tv or eat McDonalds (I'm pretty sure Elvis is dead since that's why my inlaws used his name as my better half's middle name- kinda in memory of... really,) so what do I know?

                        1. re: weezieduzzit


                          I meant no offense. I am not normal. In fact, I'd say I'm pretty odd and I have nothing against quirkiness! But I'm talking about the normal, average, non-foodie American. Not any one specific person. Not the niche of foodies here who know about every condiment under the sun. The people who only have the common condiments I orginally listed. If you had to broaden their horizons with just three condiments you use all the time, several times a week, what would you tell them about?

                        2. re: gastronomics

                          I have ketchup in the fridge but the only thing I use it for is cocktail sauce. Period.

                        3. re: weezieduzzit

                          We don't keep it either. If I were to use it, say for a meatloaf topping, I would make it homemade.

                        4. Oh ESSENTIALS, that's easy, Vodka, nuff said.