From yuzu kosho to sambal oelek, a look at the high-impact condiments that might be missing from your collection.
Sometimes you don’t quite realize what that shapeless marinade, or bracingly acidic salad dressing, or bowl of bland noodles is missing until you open your refrigerator and see the little jar staring back at you. And sometimes you realize that everything you cook has started to taste the same because you’ve been relying on the same bottle of expired hot sauce to add vibrancy and spice to your dishes. This is the power of condiments—those sauces, oils, and preserves sitting on the inner door shelf of your refrigerator. And if yours are old or uninspiring, might we suggest hitting the refresh button on your refrigerator door?
Toss the crusty bottle of Cholula that has approximately half of a teaspoon left in it. Make a little space next to the fancy French mustard for bracingly sour, ruby-red chamoy. Get ready to shrimpify your pasta sauces with funky, fermented kapi. Learn how to bake all over again with a jar of lemon curd (the stuff from Trader Joe’s is pretty good!). This collection of stories, featuring both profiles of store-bought products and some sharp original recipes, will transform that cluster of bottles and jars into a hardworking pantry that’s ready to go at a moment’s notice.
Buy now: Yuzu Kosho ($13) | Shrimp Paste ($11) | Fish Sauce ($21) | Chamoy ($7) | Red Bean Paste ($9) |Spicy Chili Crisp ($12) | Lemon Curd ($17) | Sambal Oelek ($9)
The Spicy, Sour, Ruby-Red Appeal of Chamoy
The vivid sauce has been used to punch up the flavors of fresh fruit for decades. Now it’s starting to do a lot more.
Yuzu Kosho Was Made for...Fish Tacos?
The versatile Japanese condiment made from green chiles and yuzu peel works with soba noodles, but it’s also perfect for grilled corn and Mexican food.
One Bottle of Fish Sauce Is Not Enough
When seafood is slowly fermented with salt, the result is a briny, savory blast of umami that can transform dishes and inspire lifelong love affairs.
It Smelled Like Summer Garbage. I Was in Love.
“Rotten” might be a fair descriptor. “August garbage pile” is not too far off either. But pungent and flavor-packed fermented shrimp paste, used regularly in cooking throughout Asia, amplifies all sorts of soups, sautées and mad saucery. Here’s how to cook with it at home.
Red Bean Paste Can Make Anything a Dessert
A can of sweetened red bean paste can go far.
The Cult of Spicy Chile Crisp Is Real
Chile crisp is the garlicky, spicy, crunchy condiment that somehow works in everything from noodles to ice cream to peanut brittle.
Attention Bakers: Buy a Jar of Lemon Curd
If your baking experiments tend to result in disaster, a little jar from the grocery store might be the solution.
The Modern Jang Master
In Korea, the home kitchen revolves around a set of three ancient fermented sauces called jangs. One woman is using science to uphold traditions.
Hot Sauce in My Veins
Hot sauce is our soy sauce. It’s our fish sauce. It’s how our dishes sing.
A Special Spicy Miso Sauce for Not-Special Home Cooking
Hiroko Shimbo’s primal utility sauce is good for the freezer, and best when brought out for surprise inspiration.
Sambal Oelek: Sriracha’s Fiery First Cousin
The small jar with the green lid is full of chiles, garlic, and vinegar just begging to be stirred into some stir-fried cabbage or turned into a glaze for chicken wings.