Top Five List: Condiments

by Elizabeth Palmer Starnes

Photo Credit: five condiments will become a valued part of your culinary repertoire - I promise you’ll find yourself reaching for them again and again this spring and summer.  They all serve multiple functions in your kitchen, giving you the most mileage for your spending and the most flavor for your fridge space.

  1. Sriracha – This has become a bit of an addiction for me, I want to put it on nearly everything. Made from sun-ripened chilies, Sriracha packs quite a punch, and if you over sauce your plate it might make you cry, but a modest amount adds a layer of heat and an earthy spiciness. Whisk it into Asian-inspired sauces and marinades, mix it with mayonnaise and a squeeze of lime juice for a spicy dip, or add a squirt to some broth with soba noodles, scallions, and chicken for a light, bracing soup.
  2. Fig Spread – I go for the organic Adriatic stuff they sell in little jars at Whole Foods.  Fig spread is an unexpected addition to a Panini, with a creamy cheese and some peppery arugula, or spread on a baguette with goat cheese or Manchego for a perfect party crostini. 
  3. Sweet Chili Sauce – This sweet, tangy, slightly spicy sauce works amazingly as a quick seafood or beef marinade before grilling. Sweet chili sauce hits all the right flavor notes, and when combined with a little Sriracha, some sesame oil, and a bit of soy sauce, it makes an incredible dipping sauce for grilled seafood and vegetables.
  4. Quince Paste – The perfect addition to your cheese plate, quince paste lends a sweet counterpoint to salty cheese and Marcona almonds, paring especially well with creamy cheeses like Brie and Camembert.
  5. Dijon Mustard – Invest a few more bucks in some quality Dijon mustard, and you’ll really notice a difference. Whether you use it to bind your vinaigrette, slather it on a sandwich, or marinate your chicken with a few tablespoons and some garlic and white wine, Dijon mustard will add a fresh kick of flavor to your cooking.

What's your favorite condiment? How do you use it? (Keep it clean!) Tell us in comments!