Condiments are the bits and pieces to complement cooking
What do you have in your pantry or refrigerator? What condiments or ingredients are must haves in your kitchen? What makes your food different?
There are certain products I cannot do without. They are convenient, enhance recipes, used as condiments, all to make food taste better.
I keep tubes of anchovy paste tomato paste, and harissa paste for convenience. Some times a recipe calls for a small amount of these. It is convenient to use the tube product rather than opening a whole can, not knowing when you will use the rest again. These items are pretty consistent in flavor, so they are a great substitute.
I keep various styles of mustard, even the yellow stuff, depending on what taste or texture I want. I also keep dry mustard, hot dry mustard, and mustard seeds.
Capers and olives are a must. Tabasco and a variety of other hot sauces are always on hand.
Chili sauce is a great condiment. Though it does not provide much heat, it has a sweet earthy flavor. It goes well on burgers and pork. Add some horseradish and it makes a dynamite cocktail sauce for seafood.
Soy, hoisin, Worcestershire, gochujang, steak sauce, fish sauce, Maggi, and ketchup are other go to condiments.
I keep small cans of diced green chili peppers in the pantry. The heat is mild and they add a bright flavor to certain dishes.
An assortment of vinegar is a must too. Sherry, balsamic, white wine, apple, white, rice, and raspberry are on hand.
Loomi(Dried limes), rose and orange water, and pomegranate syrup are in the pantry for Middle Eastern dishes.
Whole spices are too numerous to list. I do have various peppercorns; black, white, cayenne, sichuan, grains of paradise and red pepper flakes. I make my own ethnic spice combinations from recipes I find online or in one of the numerous cookbooks I own.
A good pantry will have all the things you need to make food taste better or to complement whatever you are eating.
Do not be shy about trying new things. Google is your friend. If you see some strange spelled or sounding ingredient or condiment, look it up. There will be information on its uses.
Eating and cooking should be a constant exploration. The more flavors you explore the less bored you become with cooking. Cooking becomes a challenge. Can you make this or that? Will it taste good?
Get out there and shop. There are great ethnic markets and some supermarkets that carry the bits and pieces that make dishes taste better. Elevate your palate and cooking to different levels.
You do not have to go to extremes like those celebrity travel chefs on television. But if you want extreme, I know an Asian market that sells pork uterus.Here is a local chef preparing it.