February 2022 Food Champions Challenge: What is your favourite condiment and How do you use it in food you prepare?

Condiments are a great way to enhance and improve the aroma, texture, and taste of foods and are usually added when the food is already cooked.
Known from ancient times (Latin Condimentum) the term was used to describe pickled or preserved food.
Different cultures have their own condiments that help to enhance or complement a dish: just think of Oyster sauce in noodle stir-fries, Pico de gallo in Hispanic dishes, Pesto added to pasta, Tomato sauce on pies.

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What is your favourite condiment, and how do you use it in the food you prepare?

Big thank you to all participants of the January challenge.:clap:
Congrats to: @kevinm, @noodle, @wraith_oz, @sydneydowers, @Kim0,
@vombatis.
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From @phb, @vax2000, @Gaby

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My favourite is Pesto (made with fresh basil) added to minestrone. It takes a mundane vegetable soup to an extraordinary level.

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Sambal Istimewa, which is Indonesian and translates to “special sauce” or maybe “extraordinary chilli condiment”. It is my favourite in that it is one I make instead of buy. I make it when there are too many chillies on the bush and they have to be used up.

Chillies come in many flavours and levels of heat. I grow medium to mild cultivars because I want to enjoy the flavour of the chilli with some heat not to burn my mouth so that I can’t taste anything. If you want to go the same way buy fresh long red chillies that are labelled mild or medium, these are generally fairly large (not to be confused with bull’s horn capsicum) and fleshy. Small chillies are generally hotter. If you want to extend the experience of eating this condiment to the day after you eat it by all means use hot chillies.

Recipe

The quantities are not exact and, like the chillies, can be varied according to taste. I would often make larger quantities than this when I have a glut. The exotic ingredients can be found online or in Asian grocers. Trasi and kemiri nuts keep well and are used in a lot of SE Asian cooking so this is not the only thing you will do with them.

  • 20 large red chillies, seeded and roughly chopped. Note that much of the heat is in the placenta (yup plants have them too) which is the white flesh that holds the seeds inside the fruit. So you can control the heat to a degree by including or excluding it.
  • 2 large brown onions roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1 tablespoon trasi (also called blachan) chopped
  • juice of a lemon or more
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (prefer dark brown)
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 8 candle nuts (also called kemiri nuts) ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seed and 1 teaspoon cummin seed ground finely
  • peanut oil as required.

Process the chillies, onions, blachan and garlic in a food processor until fairly smooth. Use 2 tablespoons of oil to lubricate. If it is not liquid enough to process add the lemon juice too or more oil. At this point it will look a shade of pink or orange.
Put the mix in a suitable size frying pan and begin to cook on a medium heat. Open the window, switch on the exhaust fan, trasi stinks! Add all the other ingredients and keep cooking, stirring often. The mix will darken as it cooks and as the water evaporates. When nearly done taste and adjust the balance by adding more salt, sugar or lemon juice until it tastes right. It ought to be aromatic, pungent, hot, and somewhat sweet and sour, and just a little salty.
Cook until it is stiff enough to stand in a spoon, if it sticks or looks dry add more oil. It is done when it is dark and the oil separates.

When done cool and transfer to a suitable jar with a lid. There ought to be enough oil to just cover the surface. It will keep for months in the fridge.

Uses

Use in place of chilli sauce. Serve as a side dish for Asian meals. Spicy soups like laksa need a dob on top when served.

For the dedicated you can eat it on cracker biscuits with beer. A bite of sambal, a slurp of beer, a bite of sambal, a slurp of beer, a bite of sambal, a slurp of beer etc.

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Possibly one of my most favourite is a good home made salsa verde, with fresh herbs from the garden, lemon juice, garlic, capers and mustard - pulsed in the food processor. No standard recipe, just made with what is available and to taste.

Great with any meat, vegetables or salads.

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I usually add Cobram Estates Robust EVOO to everything that requires an oil added that I cook . Often use their infused olive oil too.

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Is a favourite condiment one that is so irresistible the preference is to eat it on it’s own?

It used to be Salt and brown sugar, or optionally an excess of Worcestershire sauce. None of which are ideal in excess for a long life.

It’s likely a household tussle these days between different taste buds. A well balanced chutney with spiciness and a hint of chilli or pepper has many uses as an accompaniment or a seasoning.

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One of the advantages of a condiment is that usually it’s added to already cooked food and so we’re able to choose which one, as well as how much of it, we add. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Got it. Stewed apple and ice cream. Now which one? Vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, …. Options for so many different taste buds. :rofl:

Yes, it’s stretching the definition, although shaved Romano and whipped vanilla cream can serve similar purposes. Look to Italian dishes in which a topping of EVO and sprinkling of cheese are common. The same can be said for that ‘coffee club’ style morning tea with most cakes etc offered with optional cream/icecream.

Is there a strict definition that says when something is added it is not a condiment?
Is the test that the food item is not normally eaten on it’s own or as the main portion of a meal?
Are condiments really palatable other than as a topping or added and mixed through?

Wikipedia suggests a broad range of international options, with Australia’s top 3 Tomato sauce, vegemite and lemon juice. There’s obviously no accounting for taste. :roll_eyes:
(Wikipedia, where one goes to prove everyone is wrong.)

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I hope we won’t get bogged down by the ‘definition’ of a condiment :laughing:

Sure, it was easier when it just meant pickled food, but nowadays anything goes and we can feel free to say that fresh cream, or Nutella, is our fav condiment.

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Second favourite condiment is the sauce for Hainan (Southern) Chicken:

Living in Tassie, coriander is abundant in the summer months so we gorge ourselves when ever we can.

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SS (Simply Stirred) Caramelised Balsamic Vinegar with Raspberry and Vanilla drizzled over a tossed salad.

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Thank you! mine is cooking down as I tap.

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Welcome @MimiMac, that sounds great, wish I had so much energy :laughing:

While you’re here would you mind sharing with us what is your favourite condiment? :slightly_smiling_face:

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Cobram chilli-infused olive oil. Very easy/lazy way to zing up pasta, frittata, salads, any sort of cooked tomatoes, roast or grilled veges…

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Lime Pickle - if I’ve made a curry with a red meat

Hot English Mustard - Steak and other grilled tastiness

Mrs Balls Original Recipe Chutney - cold meats of many kinds

Worcestershire Sauce - bacon and eggs

Cracked Pepper - coarse and freshly prepared on many many things …

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Vegemite - we didn’t have much money when we were children after the war. Mum used to make us spaghetti and Vegemite, with a sprinkling of mousetrap cheese. People used to laugh at this but recently I saw a recipe from Nigella Lawson for Marmite (the UK equivalent of Vegemite) pasta.

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Welcome @SusanH!

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None at all. My food tastes good without spending unnecessary money on artificial flavours and colouring.

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Never thought of making your own condiments? Are there no sauces or pickles or sprinkles that meet your requirements? Do you use no chilli at all or is it all fresh? What about salt and pepper?

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