27 Condiments to Spice up Summer

By June 20, 2020June 24th, 2020Cuisine

27 Condiments to Spice Up Summer!

Grilling season is here and with it, the sticky battalion of diminutive glass jars in my refrigerator come into their own!  

Break out the Condiments!

Non-foodies admit they are baffled by the sticky battalion which dominates my refrigerator’s upper regions and most of the door shelves.  Many have labels in exotic languages and alphabets, while others sport handwritten names on blue painter’s tape.  It’s like a model UN in a SubZero.  My idea of perfection.

This drives some members of my family insane. My parents are staying with us for a few weeks and I know my father is about to go round the bend as he tries to insert his 2-gallon jug of Lactose into what little space there is left in a fridge dominated by weird bottles and pots, fermenting stuff, and some kvass chilling before a photo shoot.  He’s also itching to take some ammonia to the layer of stickiness coating the shelves.  But I’m adamant: my fridge, my rules.  But who needs oversized milk or orange juice jugs when you can have a colony of things like adjika or Ponzu?

I find condiments essential throughout the entire year. 

Condiments are the hidden ingredient that makes people stagger back when they taste something I’ve made and say, “My God, how do you make this?” They also make life far, far more interesting: the teeniest dab of Chinese chilli flake sauce can enliven an otherwise lackluster bowl of cottage cheese and a little cilantro chutney can do wonders in a grain bowl.  But condiments truly come into their own in summer, as the key building blocks of marinades for meat destined for the grill, swirled into labneh or drizzled on hummus, or whisked into the dressing of a cold potato or pasta salad.  They are fabulous when simply slathered on… well… on anything. Except perhaps vanilla icecream.  That could go horribly wrong.

Think of a sturdy condiment with a robust flavor as a magical elixir with esoteric alchemical properties.  That’s what it is, and this is particularly true during lockdown when “shopping in the pantry” is always less fraught than masking up to go to the grocery store.  If you have a good supply of condiments on hand, you need never hear the dreaded words, “chicken breasts…again?”  hurled at you.

 I have devoted many happy hours stumbling upon new and fascinating condiments.

I prowl through Asian Food Stores, haunt the farmers’ markets, and trawl the internet for the more exotic and esoteric sauces you don’t find in the aisles of conventional supermarkets.  

So, if you feel your home cooking game is getting stale, or you need something other than tomato ketchup in your life, consider one of the delectable, flavorful, and downright essential condiments listed below.  I’ve included my favorite ways to use them, but don’t limit yourself by any means!  

Enjoy spicing up summer with these 27 condiments!

27 Condiments to spice up summer
Condiment # 1

Ajvar:
The Red Gold of the Balkans

Firey roasted red peppers, tangy garlic, and the pungeuncy of walnuts makes this versatile Balkan condiment a favorite accompaniment to everything from salads to grilled fish.  Swap it in for any time you use ketchup: slather it on burgers, dunk French fries in it, or dab it on your homefries in the morning.  

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Condiment # 2

Adjika

Adjika is a key flavor component in the cuisine of Georgia.  With a taste not unlike Harissa, this combination of hot and sweet red peppers, garlic, onions, and Georgian spices is the perfect accompaniment to grilled meat either as a marinade or sauce.  It spices up hummus or baba ganouche (Adjika loves to play with eggplant).  Swirl a dollop in labneh or yogurt for an addictive dip, or float a teaspoon in your favorite chicken soup to instantly transform it from workaday to exotic fare.  

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27 condiments for summer
27 condiments to spice up summer
Condiment # 3

Anchovies:
The Secret Lurking in the Refrigerator

I blame Melissa Clark of The New York Times for my addiction to these delectable anchovies; she puts them in everything and so do I!  Far from the hairy stuff you pick off an “Everything” pizza, these anchovies literally melt into whatever you add them to for a rich umami undercurent or a dominent player, depending on how you use them.  I get nervous when I don’t have a jar!

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Condiment # 4

Anchovy Paste:
The Secret Culinary Weapon

I put anchovy paste in almost everything: from hearty winter braises to lemony summer vinaigrettes.  Far from fishy, this paste gives any recipe a solid umami base that deepens the other flavors.  Keep a tube handy for marinades for meat destined for the grill!

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27 Condiments to spice up summer
27 Condiments to spice up summer
Condiment # 5

Antica Italia:
Thick Balsamic Vinegar of Modena Italian Glaze

Balsamic Vinegar Glaze gives you the intensity and control of a syrup with the marvelously complex flavor of Italy’s Balsamic vinegar.  Drizzle over caprese salad, roasted or grilled peaches, a bowl of fresh berries, or creamy pannacotta for a flavor spike.  This is a fabulous way to glaze a ham or pork tenderloin, toss with poached chicken and arugula, or add a layer of flavor to string beans, brussel sprouts, spinach, or a salad of bitter greens.  

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Condiment # 6

Chile Crunch:
Because Avocado Toast Needs Something

This Asian condiment packs a punch and a crunch!  A little goes a long way, but even a small spoonfull will make itself felt in burgers, drizzled on avocado toast, spiking a noodle bowl, or drizzled on a bowl of hummus.  Great with breakfast eggs or midnight pizza.  

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27 Condiments to spice up summer
27 Condiments to spice up summer
Condiment # 7

Coriander Chutney:
India’s Green Jewel

This condiment is the secret to livening up summer salads, perking up a lackluster pea soup, or just slathering on something just off the grill.  Drizzle it on cucumbers, carrot salad, grilled meat (particularly lamb), and grains.  

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Condiment # 8

Ginger Paste:
Put a Little Zing in Your Dish

Ginger is an essential element in Indian and Asian food, but we can adapt it to almost any dish with great sucess!  This finely chopped ginger paste makes assembling a quick curry or finishing a stir-fry a snap.  It’s also great for creating dipping sauces or spicing up bone broth.  

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27 Condiments to spice up summer
27 Condiments to spice up summer
Condiment # 9

Gochujang:
Where Sweet meets Spicy

Korea’s beloved version of chilli paste is sweeter than many of its Asian and Caucasian cousins thanks to the fermentation process.  With five levels of spiciness from Mild to Extremely Hot, there is plenty of heat for everyone.  I use Gochujang in sauces, soups, cold salad dressings and marinades.  

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Condiment # 10

Harissa:
The Moroccan Miracle Paste

Any meal can be made better with a little Morocco in the mix!  Harissa is a traditional Middle Eastern sauce made from red chili peppers, sweet red pepper, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, salt.  MINA’s version comes in a range of heat from mild to intense.  The uses for harissa are almost endless, from spicing up a turkey and cheese sandwich, to using as a marinade for meat an poultry.  A spoonful in a sauce, soup, or stew will bring the promise of sunshine!

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27 Condiments to spice up summer
27 Condiments to spice up summer
Condiment # 11

Honeycup Mustard:
Err on The Sweet Side

I cannot imagine ham without honeycup mustard, both as the glaze or in a ham sandwich.  This sticky sweet savory mustard is equally successful when paired with pastrami, corned beef, turkey, salami, or other meats.  I whisk it with yogurt to make the perfect dipping sauce for fried chicken tenders or potato chips.  Versatile and delicious!

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Condiment # 12

Gourmet Horseradish with Beets

Horseradish makes almost anything more interesting.  This version of beet spiked horseradish adds a sweet flavor element to temper the heat of horseradish.  Use this in any beet or carrot dish to make things more interesting, mix with goat cheese for a spread that is as appealling to the eyes as it is to the tongue.  I use this to cure fish and liven up both Bloody Mary and borscht.  I don’t ever want to be without it!

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27 Condiments to spice up summer
Condiment # 13

Korean Barbecue Sauce

If you are an instapot devotee (and if you aren’t, can I convince you otherwise?) you know that with a cup of this stuff, a pork shoulder, and some chopped aromatics, you can have dinner on the table in under 40 minutes.   Korean barbeque sauce is perfect for chicken wings, as a dipping sauce for steak tips, or slathered on pork chops.  

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Condiment # 14

Mint Chutney:
Everything Tastes Better with Mint

I buy large jars of this in the summer and they go fast!  Combined with lime juice and olive oil, this chutney makes a great marinade for both fish and poultry.  Drizzle a little into a bowl of labne and you have a bright and cheerful dip to top grain bowls or lentil salads.  It’s bright, it’s a little sweet and it will liven up any meal.  

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27 Condiments to spice up summer

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27 Condiments to spice up summer
Condiment # 15

Ndjuja:
Spreadable Prociutto

This intensely flavorful spread made from prociutto and speck lies behind much of the talent of many an accomplished host.  Spread it on crostini as an appetizer, on grilled meat or fish for an unami boost, or top smashed potatoes with it.  Add to fresh tomatoes and olive oil for a light but delicious pasta.  Dot devilled eggs with a tiny bit and watch your guests clear the platter in seconds flat!

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Condiment # 16

Onion Marmelade:
Put a Little Tang on Your Board

Ready to take your cheese board up a notch?  Add a small bowl of this delectable onion marmelade and watch the board disappear!  It’s a mouth-watering glaze for baked ham or as a side to mac n’ cheese.  It is marvelous in sandwiches, on burgers, next to steaks, or stealthily added to beef stews to add a burst of sweet onion-y fabulousness. 

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27 Condiments to spice up summer
Condiment # 17

Pepper & Garlic Dip
The Summer’s Workhorse

I got a jar of this at Christmas from a well-wisher and it was gone by Boxing Day!  This is classic American chilli sauce with no fuss about it.  I used the best portion of another jar as a dip for shrimp, and no guacomole leaves my ktichen without a side of this all purpose dip!

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Condiment # 18

Pomegranate Molasses
The Middle Eastern Delicacy

Whether you’re making Lebanese, Persian, Yemeni, Georgian, Azeri, or Israeli food, its a sure bet you are going to need at least one bottle of pomegranate molasses. This is a tangy but not too sweet syrup that can play an active or an ancillary role, depending on the dish.  Great as a finishing drizzle for eggplant dishes or baba ganouche. 

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Condiment # 19

Ponzu Sauce

This is soy sauce’s leaner more perky cousin.  Ponzu is made from rice vinegar, bonito flakes, mirin, and seaweed.  It’s often described as having a “citrus” flavor, which isn’t wrong, through there is no citrus in it.  Ponzu is a marvelously versatile condiment; toss a few dashes with cucumbers and radishes to give them a piquant edge, whisk with sesame oil and drizzle over poached fish or tofu, combine with soy sauce and fresh ginger for a delectable dipping sauce for dumplings or egg rolls.  Ponzu can also be an excellent tenderizer for meat bound for the grill

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Condiment # 20

Roasted Garlic Aioli:
So Much More Than Mayo!

Anything mayonnaise can do, garlic aioli can do so much better!  I love Stonewall Kitchens’s range of products and usually keep several jars of this in reserve.  It’s gorgeous as a dip for chips or fries, outstanding as the base of a sauce for fish or chicken, and what it can do to tuna is out of this world! My latest use for it was on open-faced sandwiches with cold beef tenderloin and watercress.  Fantastic!

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Condiment # 21

Sambal Oelek Chili Paste

How do I love, thee, Sambal Oelek Chilli Paste?  Let me count the ways:  swirled into cold cucumber and yogurt soup, drizzled over sesame noodles, slathered on top of avocado toast,   whisked into scrambled eggs or egg salad, simmered with chicken broth, propping up a spicy marinade for flank steak.  Get a big jar of this and keep it handy in your fridge!

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Condiment # 22

Double Concentrated Tomato Paste:
Good to the Last Smudge!

I never want to be without tomato paste, the all important thickener for soups and stews, sauces, and glazes. Tomato snob that I am, I refuse to eat them except when they are in full season, so tomato paste often has to do the heavy lifting in the flavor department.  Since you only need a few teaspoons at a time, it makes so much more sense to keep a tube in the fridge. 

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Condiment # 23

Savora:
The Taste of France

My French friends cackle with laughter when they see me load my shopping trolly up with Savora.  “It’s very ordinary,” they say with Gallic shrugs.  Ordinary it may be, but Savora makes absolutely everything taste like France.  Don’t think about making a viniagrette without it, pair it with sausages sizzling from the grill, or slip a spoonful into your next potato salad dressing.  You’ll notice la difference!  

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Condiment # 24

Divina Sour Cherry:
Adriatic Sweetness

When I hanker for the warmth of the Adriatic, I turn to Divina and its line of olives, tapenade, stuffed grape leaves, and marvelously flavorful spreads.  The Sour Cherry and Fig Spread make regular appearances on my cheese boards, but I often sneak dollops of either into sandwiches or on top of vanilla ice cream and yogurt, or binge on an entire jar slathered between the layers of a sponge cake.  So many ways to enjoy this captured sunshine!

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Jennifer Eremeeva introduces 27 condiments to spice up summer
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Condiment # 25

Tkemali:
Georgia’s Plum Condiment

Not Georgia the state, Georgia the country.  Tkemali is the purple (or green) river that runs through any Georgian meal.  Plums mix with garlic and Georgia’s signature spice mix Khmeli suneli.  Serve it with chicken, beef, lamb and enjoy the mouth-puckering tang of the Caucuses.

Read my article on Tkemali for in The Moscow Times! 

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Condiment # 26

Thai Peanut Sauce:
The Flexible Powerhouse

What can’t you do with a jar of Thai Peanut Sauce?  Marinate chicken breasts in it for 24 hours, then chuck them in the instapot and voila, you have dinner.  But the fun doesn’t stop there: use liberally in grain or noodle bowls, dilute with rice vinegar for a dipping sauce or salad dressing, slather over grilled flank steak or pork chops, toss with udon noodles, or use instead of mustard or mayo in a wraq or sandwich.  This is a blast of Asian flavor that will enhance any dish.

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Condiment # 27

Truffle Oil:
Hoard this Sinful Pleasure!

I always ask for this in my Christmas stocking, and usually this is about the only thing in it.  It’s pricy to be sure, but oh what a tiny drizzle can achieve!  Slick on anything remotely related to funghi: mushroom soup, mushroom pasta, mushroom risotto, marinated mushrooms.  Whisk a tiny bit into a simple olive oil dressing for a spinach salad and watch great things happen!  

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27 Condiments to Spice up Summer

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