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Suggestions for unusual, exciting condiments
June 18, 2014 7:38 AM   Subscribe

I enjoy foods that have a great deal of flavor. But I'm getting tired of the standard condiments you're likely to find in North America (like ketchup, mustard, Sriracha, Tabasco, salsa, or mango pickle). What are some new condiments for me to try?

Either recipes or commercially available stuff is fine. Major bonus points if the condiment is vegan.

Thanks!
posted by akk2014 to Food & Drink (61 answers total) 89 users marked this as a favorite
 
I like hoisin sauce. Not sure if it's vegan, probably?
posted by geegollygosh at 7:39 AM on June 18


Harissa.
posted by box at 7:41 AM on June 18 [10 favorites]


Sambal oelek goes on everything.
posted by punchtothehead at 7:42 AM on June 18 [5 favorites]


Gentleman's Relish - definitely not vegan. There are recipes available to make it at home.
posted by backseatpilot at 7:49 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Sweet chili sauce.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:49 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Chimichurri is fantastic. It doesn't have to be used on meat.

I like to take a can of chipotles in adobo and whiz it in a blender. It makes a really smokey, spicy sauce that's totally unlike something like tabasco.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:50 AM on June 18 [9 favorites]


Ketchup need not be tomato based. You can get banana ketchup, cherry ketchup, beet ketchup...
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:52 AM on June 18


Worcestershire Sauce!! Amazing on mushrooms.
A balsamic glaze on vegetables is also great.
Mango chutney (I am partial to Major Grey's) - samosa's, pork, etc.
Pico de Gallo
posted by hepta at 7:53 AM on June 18


omg, ajvar. Ajvar ajvar ajvar. It is the best.

Zergut brand is probably going to be the easiest to find.
posted by phunniemee at 7:53 AM on June 18 [4 favorites]


Bragg aminos.
posted by box at 7:53 AM on June 18


Gochujang - super amazing. Everything from Korean-inspired chicken kabob to "mix it half and half with ketchup and eat the SHIT out of some grilled hot dogs".
posted by ersatzkat at 7:55 AM on June 18 [6 favorites]


I am very much a fan of Gochujang. It's hot pepper paste - you can probably find it in a Korean grocery store. I was using various hot sauces before I visited Korea earlier this year, but now I'm on nothing but Gochujang.
posted by gursky at 7:56 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Gochujang, doenjang, other -jangs (Korean condiments) are pretty good.
posted by Maecenas at 7:56 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Worcestershire sauce has anchovies in it, so not vegan.

Banana sauce is great, but is usually so loaded up with artificial colours it practically glows.

Smoked paprika goes well on everything.
posted by scruss at 7:57 AM on June 18




Piri-piri / peri-peri sauce! I like this brand, which I can find in grocery stores here in Toronto. It's a hot sauce with a really interesting bitter-sour citrus kick. I like it on many things, but especially poured into the hollow of an avocado and then eaten with a spoon.
posted by AmandaA at 7:59 AM on June 18


Mayo mixed with a ton of smoked paprika (pimenton).
posted by entropone at 8:00 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


This entry looks like a stand-alone dish, but in any middle eastern or eastern european grocery store you can find it in jars - imam bayildi. Next to it you will probably also find jars of zucchini spread and various other delicious vegetable toppings. All vegan.

Also, try putting sumac on things. I really like sumac on buttered (buttery-spreaded, actually) toast, sumac on popcorn, etc.
posted by Frowner at 8:03 AM on June 18


Sambal oelek has been suggested, but there are many other varieties of sambal that you can experiment with! Piri piri sauce is another interesting sauce to try. Szechuan chili oil can also be nice.
posted by neushoorn at 8:04 AM on June 18


What everybody said above. Also: gremolata, which is so simple, fresh and delicious on everything in the summertime.
posted by General Malaise at 8:07 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Fish sauce (use very sparingly if you haven't had it before) and peanut sauce are great for summer rolls.

See also Wikipedia's enormous List of condiments.
posted by grouse at 8:16 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Garlic Aioli

Curry Gewürz Ketchup

The Yumbii food truck mixes regular ketchup and sriracha together for a dip for their AMAZING sesame fries. So I recommend trying that.

Another yummy sauce you can make with existing condiments is Remoulade. This stuff is crack! It goes really well with Jerk and Blackened things (tofu?)

Pickapeppa Sauce
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:17 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


I've heard some very good things about mushroom ketchup.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:36 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


pickled lemon
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 8:41 AM on June 18


Giardiniera
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 8:42 AM on June 18


Filipino banana sauce (aka banana ketchup). I loathe tomato ketchup, but this stuff is great. (Comes in hot and mild varieties.) Not sure if vegan, but based on the ingredients list it's at least vegetarian.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 8:43 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Furikake is soooooo delicious
posted by chasles at 9:14 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


I really like branston pickle if you can get it.
posted by misspony at 9:20 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Oyster sauce is great for stir fry. Or if you're feeling especially dirty I grew up dipping a hard boiled egg in that stuff.

2nd gojuchang. Great again for stir frys. Or you can make your own bibimbap and add that in.
posted by like_neon at 9:25 AM on June 18


2 parts mayo to 1 part Gochujang. Just had it with some chicken tenders and it was AMAZING. Everything is so bland in my household after being in Korea for years.
posted by kathrynm at 9:34 AM on June 18


Za'atar! It's a blend of sumac, an herb called za'atar (which is several things), sesame seeds, salt, and maybe other spices. You can probably find it at any Middle Eastern market.
posted by Maecenas at 10:12 AM on June 18 [3 favorites]


3 parts mayo and 1 part sambal oelek... apparently this is called samurai sauce in Belgium and it's super yummy
posted by ohmy at 10:12 AM on June 18


Hot lime pickle - we buy Pataks which is "safe for vegan" but I'm definitely going to make my own one of these days.
posted by humph at 10:15 AM on June 18 [3 favorites]


Chinese fermented black beans, aka douchi. Throw a bit in a vegetable stir-fry.
posted by ActionPopulated at 10:22 AM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Manis Pedis sauce (a kind of sambal) is great on hot dogs, chicken, anything. It's like a spicy sweet ketchup.
posted by matildaben at 10:25 AM on June 18


Tonkatsu sauce. While worcestershire is used if you make it yourself, commercial versions are often vegan.
posted by O9scar at 10:49 AM on June 18


Zhug

Tzatziki

Muhammara

A personal favorite that doesn't have a name: In a mortar and pestle, pound together some whole, toasted coriander seeds with some grated lime zest. Mix with yogurt.
posted by mudpuppie at 11:43 AM on June 18 [1 favorite]


I second Curry Ketchup. I have no idea why that hasn't caught on in the states.
posted by kmeryl at 12:06 PM on June 18


Lizano salsa so good on so many things
posted by ephemerista at 12:11 PM on June 18


You can make tahini dressing in different ways. It's great. It's a staple condiment at my favorite Swedish Zen temple, and everyone loves it. It might be the primary reason I keep coming back for those excruciating meditation retreats. Goes great with rice and tofu, all kinds of veggies, etc. Works very well together with soy sauce too.
posted by mbrock at 12:39 PM on June 18


Ponzu. Not spicy, but tangy and citrusy and delicious.
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:01 PM on June 18


What, no one has mentioned the incredible Matouk's? (Fiery but awesomely good.) If you must choose, go for the calypso sauce. Yes, vegan.
posted by bearwife at 2:19 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Weird Japanese condiments that I personally love are furikake, seaweed paste (Gohan Desuyo), and enoki mushroom spread (nametake, which I buy in a jar but apparently there are recipes).

How about miso-based dressings? I use the one at the bottom of the Smitten Kitchen miso sweet potato and broccoli bowl recipe a whole lot. Replace the honey with agave syrup and it's vegan.
posted by sillymama at 2:35 PM on June 18


ajvar is great on almost anything starchy, in sandwiches, with veggies dipped in, it goes with almost anything where peppers would be welcome - it comes in spicy or mild.

Also, seconding the fermented black bean sauce, gochujang, sweet chili sauce and banana ketchup.
posted by snaw at 2:50 PM on June 18


Romesco sauce -- think pesto with roasted peppers and chiles instead of basil, and almonds instead of pine nuts. So, so good on everything: pasta, eggs, pizza, bread. Vegan.
posted by apparently at 3:49 PM on June 18 [2 favorites]


Kimchee is not actually a condiment, but like cole slaw it could be used like one.

I didn't note any votes for mustard products. There are many. And some will make your eyes water.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:02 PM on June 18


divined by radio mentions pesto above; I'll second that and add that if there's a Costco near you, they make a FAN-TAB-ULOUS Kirkland Signature basil pesto. To die for!

Also: Trader Joe's makes a very tasty Pepper Jelly that goes well on sandwiches and salmon burgers.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:19 PM on June 18


How did I miss this? Thank goodness for Best of Metafilter!

* = probably vegan

Japanese mayo
* Garlic & onion jam (it's deep and sweet and savory, and great on sandwiches, with cheese, or to make a pan sauce)
* Yuzukosho
* Taberu rayu
* Black vinegar
* Ssamjang and gochujang (these go well in and on all sorts of surprising things, but it takes experimentation)

As a non-ketchup-fan, I still enjoy curry ketchup, Melissa's habenero ketchup, and the patently goofy Sir Kensington's Spooning Ketchup.

Not really condiments, but could be used that way: Japanese flavored salts, e.g. yuzu shio, ume shio, etc.; shichimi togarashi; fried garlic or onions...all vegan.
posted by wintersweet at 4:48 PM on June 18


I have become a fan of balsamic vinegar on non-salad foods. This stuff on coffee ice cream is amazing, for instance. The difference between real, aged balsamic and the grocery store stuff is beyond description.
posted by kostia at 5:00 PM on June 18


Guasacaca
posted by bricoleur at 5:09 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


Make the picked raisins in this recipe. You can throw them on almost anything, or even just eat some as a snack. (I have no idea about the duck.)
posted by Su at 5:26 PM on June 18


Black garlic. Smear it on thick

DIY: You can reduce basically any liquid into concentrated sunshine. I do whole tomatoes, citrus juices, cheap balsamic, bone broth gelatin, etc
posted by fritillary at 7:12 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]


I haven't gotten to try it yet but Cackalacky is a brand name for a sort-of BBQ sauce based on sweet potatoes. You can find recipes to make your own online.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:50 PM on June 18


Maybe not traditional condiments in the way ketchup is, but I love pomegranate molasses, orange flower water and preserved lemons. Adding a little bit of one or all three of these things to food can really perk up the flavour.

Also "black beans" (which are actually fermented soy beans), fish sauce, hoisin, balsamic reduction, sundried tomatoes, sesame oil, fresh lemon juice, maple syrup, liquid smoke, capers, caramelised onions and fresh herbs.
posted by mosessis at 5:42 AM on June 19


A Lebanese garlic spread called Toum, okonomi (some say it tastes like a lot like Worcester, but I'd put it somewhere nearer to a plum based BBQ sauce), Japanese mayonnaise or even better the same mixed with Sriracha or Sambal Oelek to make dynamite sauce. There are a number of easy sweetened soya sauce recipes from Asia that can be whipped up in a pinch...like Kecap Manis.

Then there is Indian. Hari (cilantro) chutney, Mint chutney, Imli (tamarind) Chatney that goes incredibly well with poultry. Spice blends galore like the famous garam masala or a spice and bean mixture from Southern Indian called Gun Powder/Podi which is typically sprinkled on Idli and Dosa, but don't let that stop you from trying it on something else.
posted by redindiaink at 8:43 AM on June 19


I was at Costco yesterday and they had a pineapple/habanero sauce. It was sweet with a bit of heat. Not at all fiery.
posted by kathrynm at 9:37 AM on June 19


Truffle salt has a unique umami(ish) flavor. I purchased mine at Whole Foods.
posted by Aha moment at 5:41 AM on June 20


I live in Austraila and have gotten hooked on Mrs. H.S. Balls Chutney. It's a South African product, but it's very popular here. It's a mixture of peaches and apricot. The last time I was in the US (FL), I saw they had started carrying it in a supermarket there. There's a spicy version too, which is excellent. Nice for the usual chutney uses—paired with curry and stews, but also really nice with pork, spread on a burger, or with grilled cheese.
posted by amusebuche at 12:17 AM on June 21


I quite like dukkah. I have eaten it as a hors d'oeuvre dipping bread in it, but also cooked chicken encrusted with it ( the latter is obvs not vegan )
posted by seawallrunner at 10:10 PM on June 21


Marmite! Marmite! Marmite!
posted by check engine at 10:52 AM on June 22


Horseradish and salsa mixed together is surprisingly, deliciously better than the sum of its parts. (Good on crackers, chips, bread, meat-dipping, etc.)
posted by likeatoaster at 8:45 AM on June 23


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