The Best International Condiments You Should Be Using
From spicy to sweet, here's how other countries add punch to their everyday eats.
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Move over, ketchup and salsa. Here are some of the tastiest condiments from around the world — and all the ways you should be eating them.
By Bob Hoebee for Food Network Kitchen
This British variation of Indian chutney is made of fruits like apple and mango that are pickled with sugar and vinegar, then flavored with assorted spices such as ginger, cumin and coriander. Dried fruits like raisins, apricots and prunes are often part of the mix. English chutney is usually served with deli meats and cheeses, but why stop there? Add a schmear to your grilled cheese sandwich, or puree a few scoops and use it as glaze for grilled pork chops, barbecue chicken or roasted sweet potatoes.
The classic Southern French mixture of mashed black or green olives and olive oil, often including capers, anchovies and garlic, has almost endless uses: Mix it with mayonnaise to make tuna salad special; toss it with hot pasta and diced tomato for an instant sauce; rub some under the skin of chicken or turkey before roasting. For potato salad with an umami punch, toss cooked potatoes in a vinaigrette of mustard, olive oil, lemon and tapenade.
A smoky, roasted hot pepper paste from North Africa, harissa is flavored with garlic and coriander seed. It is used most often in meat or fish stews and as an accompaniment to couscous. Try it stirred into hummus, yogurt or mayonnaise as a quick dip for raw or roasted veggies. Amp up fried chicken by mixing it into your buttermilk brine.
This condiment comes in different forms all over Italy, but the most famous version is from Cremona, where whole fruits are cooked until beautifully translucent and then seasoned with an unctuous, mustard-flavored syrup. It is usually served with roasted poultry or to accompany bollito misto (Italian boiled beef). At home, try spreading it on grilled bread for crostini to serve with tangy Italian cheeses or cured salami and prosciutto.
This aged and fermented Korean red pepper paste has a balanced spicy sweetness. It was originally used for its medicinal benefits: Served with chicken soup, it was known as a cure for weak stomachs. Gochuchang's delicious, special flavor has made it a versatile addition to classic Korean tofu-based stews, as well as marinades for Korean table-grilled meats. Got a jar in the fridge? Toss gochuchang with chicken wings and broil until blistered for a spicy-sweet bar snack. You can also use a dollop to brighten broth-based soups, like minestrone.
Sweet Chile Sauce
From Thailand where it is called nam chim kai, this sweet-and-sour, crimson-colored condiment is made of red chile peppers, vinegar and garlic that's been sweetened with sugar or fruit. We often see it used as a dip for crispy egg rolls, shrimp toasts, lettuce wraps and spring rolls. Take it outside and brush the sauce on grilled ribs, chicken legs or shrimp for an easy glaze. Mix it with mayo, yogurt or sour cream for an easy aioli to drizzle on roasted potato wedges or use as a crudite dip.
Dark and pungent, this Chinese sweet-and-sour sauce is often called duck or plum sauce (even though it contains no plum). What's really inside? A combination of wheat or rice starches, sugar, soybeans, vinegars, often garlic and a hint of hot pepper. Chinese cooks use it to flavor stir fries, meat marinades and stews. Other interesting applications: Make a pizza with shredded rotisserie chicken, hoisin and pineapple — or, glaze Brussels sprouts or butternut squash with hoisin.
This famous English take on Asian fish sauce is often used in place of anchovies in Caesar-like dressings, and added to stews and burgers for a hidden umami boost. Used in small amounts, Worcestershire can stand in for salt, adding a unique depth — imagine a spruced-up shrimp cocktail and zesty bloody Mary. It's delicious with lemon and oil on sliced avocado and, added to mayonnaise, it makes an easy dipping sauce for roasted cauliflower and broccoli. Mix it with butter and herbs for a compound butter to melt on steak.
This medium-spicy South African relish is made from chile peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions and sometimes curry powder. It's traditionally used as the main flavoring for baked beans or served with “pap” (South African porridge). It’s also eaten like jam with bread. For a modern twist, serve it as an easy salsa with chips, or a topper for cheese and crackers. It's even incredible when used on burgers in place of ketchup.
A spicy fermented Japanese sauce made from the zest of the citrus fruit yuzu, chile peppers and salt. Hailing from Kyushu, it is commonly used to flavor Japanese hot pot dishes, miso soup and sashimi. We like to drizzle it on fried chicken or fish for a surprising but fitting zing. It’s also a yummy glaze for roasted carrots, parsnips, mushrooms and grilled or broiled lamb chops.