Condiments — enticing drizzles, dollops, dashes, and sprinkles — add an explosion of flavor, texture, and color to finished dishes.
Condiment sauces, spices, and preparations aren’t substantial enough to be served as a food on their own, but they have the power to convert the blandest dish into something special. Transformed by fermentation, condiments offer healthy attributes in addition to flavor. The palate broadens as experimentation offers a range of global flavors. Beyond old classics like the trifecta of ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, a world of condiments is waiting to be explored. Here are a few you may not have known you needed, but, after tasting, you might not be able to live without.
Chef Belinda Spices is a Certified South Carolina signature line of 11 artisan, all-natural spice blends. Grilling Rub for meats has multiple uses; its taste is addictive. Turkish Coffee Spice Mix and Moroccan Coffee Spice Mix add pizazz to coffee, tea, baked goods, and beyond. (Whole Foods)
Cholula, an iconic hot sauce affiliated with Jose Cuervo in Jalisco, Mexico, was recently acquired by McCormick & Company. Chile de árbol and piquin peppers infuse the spicy-sweet sauce with a pleasurable level of heat. Six flavors come in distinctive bottles with small wooden caps. Use with any of your favorite dishes.
Dukkah is an addictive North African condiment made from pan-roasted, pounded seeds, nuts, and spices. Sprinkle over salads, labneh, hummus, roasted vegetable dishes, rice, pasta, bread dough, roast lamb, or other favorite foods. Dip rustic bread into olive oil, then lightly into dukkah.
Gochujang is Korean red chili paste with fermented soybeans. It is rich in umami, the fifth flavor that gives foods a distinctive, savory taste. Fast becoming a star in American kitchens, the condiment enhances the taste of barbecue sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, yogurt, sauces, marinades, stews, rice bowls, and soups. Available in mild, medium, or spicy. (Korean markets on Decker)
Harissa is a spicy North African, red pepper-based spice paste used in Moroccan dishes. Swirl into stews, soups, hummus, couscous, mayonnaise, marinades, or stir into grain bowls or pasta. Rose harissa includes rose petals.
Hoisin sauce is China’s answer to barbecue sauce. Based on fermented soybeans, it has a complex sweet, salty, spicy flavor profile that enhances sauces, Asian noodle dishes, salad dressings, soups, stir-fry sauces, stews, and chili. It is a traditional condiment for moo shu pork.
Mike’s Hot Honey, created as a pizza condiment, has gained a cult following. The sweet heat is also sensational on fried chicken, ribs, cornbread, in salad dressing, sauces, as a seafood glaze, and drizzled over cheese or ice cream. (Whole Foods)
Miso, a savory Japanese soybean paste rich in umami, is valued for its complex, salty flavor and nutritional benefits. Add sweet white (shiro) miso to soups, salad dressings, seafood marinades, Bloody Marys, and ice cream recipes. Add yellow (Shinshu) miso to poultry marinades, stews, cookie dough, caramel sauce, and mayonnaise. Mix with tahini and rice vinegar and spoon over roasted veggies. Red (aka) miso complements meat marinades, stews, braises, stir-fry sauces, brownies, spicy cookie dough, and chocolate truffles. White miso is less salty than others.
Olinda Olives brand olive oils are produced in Northern California by Charleston’s DeCamilla family. Blended and bottled in South Carolina, the signature “Charleston blend” features 100 percent extra-virgin arbequina and arbosano oils. High quality olive oil shines in its role as a condiment and can be drizzled into soups, on toasted baguettes and hummus, or over beefsteak, Italian style.
Pickapeppa Sauce is a mildly spicy, dark Jamaican sauce that can be added to hearty soups, barbecue sauces, marinades, or roasted nuts. Create an instant party by drizzling Pickapeppa Sauce over cream cheese or goat cheese and serve with crackers. Five flavors, some with extra heat, are available. Two include mango.
Ponzu is a tasty Japanese condiment that combines rice vinegar and juice of the yuzu, a small sour fruit, or sudachi — a small, green, sour citrus. Bottled ponzu may include ingredients like soy sauce, mirin, seaweed, and dashi (fish soup stock). Use in dipping sauces, vinaigrette, noodle dishes, one-pot dishes, and with sashimi.
Red Boat is a premium, artisan, fermented anchovy sauce that has gained cult status in the U.S. The epitome of umami, its presence is undetected if used judiciously, but this secret ingredient adds depth and flavor complexity. Enhance meat or fish dishes, mayonnaise, aioli, vegetables, soups, or vinaigrette. Refrigerate after opening. (Whole Foods)
Vivian Howard’s Red Eye Coffee Rub showcases the versatility of coffee, while it boosts the flavor of your favorite meat or fish. This distinctive seasoning is a staple in the kitchens of this Charleston restaurateur. (Lowes Foods)
Za’atar is a popular spice blend with varied ingredients such as dried herbs (oregano, thyme, and marjoram), sumac, sesame seeds, dill, orange peel, and sometimes hyssop. Pleasantly tart and nutty, the mixture can be sprinkled over many foods, including fish, chicken, lamb, bread dough, sliced tomatoes, yogurt, and even scrambled eggs.