July 19, 2024


Built General Tough

18 Condiments Our Food Staff Would Lick Off a Spoon

I’m going through a Marmite phase. The inky, yeasty paste gives just the right amount of salty funk to buttered toast, whether plain or beneath fat slices of avocado, juicy sliced radish or soft-scrambled eggs. And a dab on peanut butter-filled celery sticks deepens and sharpens the flavors. My family won’t touch it, so one tiny jar lasts forever, meaning it’s always there, just for me. MELISSA CLARK

As of late, I’ve fallen hard for yuzu kosho, which I will lick off a very tiny spoon as it’s so potent. It gives a jolt to anything you combine it with, be it butter to slather on crusty bread or crème fraîche for a tart. And a little mixed with chopped cucumber goes a long way. SARA BONISTEEL

At the start of the pandemic, I panicked when I realized that my fridge was so packed with condiments that I had nearly run out of storage space. But hoarding condiments essentially means hoarding flavor; it’s the best way I know to enrich dishes with little effort: Salsa macha imparts smokiness and texture; a splash of chile oil awakens the palate. But in truth, I use Better Than Bouillon’s vegetarian chicken stock concentrate more than any other condiment. A small spoonful subtly bolsters soups, stews, roasted vegetables and pastas of all kinds. ALEXA WEIBEL

My favorite condiment is chutney podi (also known as gunpowder). Commonly found in Southern Indian cuisines, it’s a type of dry, coarse chutney, typically containing dal, seeds, chiles and other spices, though there are countless variations. Growing up, we were lucky to have a lot of South Indian family friends who gave us batches of their homemade versions. My uncle Guru, whose family we used to travel with a lot, would bring a small bottle of podi to every country we visited because he couldn’t go long without craving Indian flavors. He once joked that it could make anything taste like Indian food — he once added it to ribollita. (Let it be known that I do not condone bringing outside seasonings to restaurants!) Sadly, I don’t have too many people nearby anymore making homemade podi, so I buy MTR’s version, which does the trick for me — it’s nutty, tart and spicy, with a grainy texture that I just love. I toss roasted vegetables with it, or mix it with ghee and drizzle it on top of yogurt as a snack. PRIYA KRISHNA

I always have a tub of white miso paste in the fridge, and I use it almost every day for its mellow, salty and lightly fermented flavor. It’s great whisked with tahini for a quick sauce on roasted vegetables, or with sesame oil and honey to glaze a piece of fish. It also makes the complex base for two of my holy grail pasta recipes: this vegan cacio e pepe and this creamy miso pasta, both from Alexa Weibel. And, like everyone else in the world, I use it in this all-star cookie recipe from Krysten Chambrot. BECKY HUGHES