This is a bright, herbal, pungent sauce that works well with any kind of grilled meat. Or bread, or cheese. Or potatoes. Or on cold pasta, or on warm pasta. It would probably be great with fish, too. It’s originally an Argentian sauce, and we always make it when we prepare grilled skirt steak; but we inevitably end up dumping it on everything, and even simply eating it with a spoon.
Chinese red oil (红油, or the equivalent, Japanese raiyu らい油) is a critical ingredient in any number of Sichuanese dishes, including sesame noodles, or husband-wife boiled beef slices. It’s great with black vinegar, as a dumpling sauce. And it’s versatile enough to use with other kinds of cuisine as a spicy condiment. It’s a beautiful ruby red color, and has a fantastic toasty aroma. You can buy it, if you like, but it’s ridiculously simple to make. It might look intimidatingly fiery, but the flavour is a mellow, slow heat (even if you use spicy chili flakes).
— Brad, Ulli Continue Reading
Mayonnaise is a simple sauce, made by combining egg yolks and oil. It is used widely — from salad dressings, to spreads, to dips. It’s very quick, easy, and safe to make — and the homemade version is a far, far better sauce to make than you can ever buy. There’s really no excuse for bottled mayo. Aioli is just a spiffed-up version of mayonnaise, with garlic, lemon, and sometimes herbs. You can play around with almost any combination of oils, and seasonings, and make spectacularly good aioli, in about 5 minutes.
When Maggie lived at the Normandie house, she made aioli regularly (we ended up calling it Maggie sauce). At some point, we had to tell her she was forbidden to make it again, because we were eating it by the spoonful, right out of the bowl.
Harissa is a dark red, hot, and highly spiced sauce common across North Africa, from Morocco to Tunisia. It can be made with a variety of spices, usually inlcuding caraway, cumin and coriander seed. It’s wonderful as a marinade for meat. It’s a great seasoning for olives, lupinos, and feta cheese (perhaps together with preserved lemons). It works well as a side for stews and vegetables; or a sauce for kebab. It’s also perfect for a making a quick, flavourful pasta sauce.
Because the spices are typical of many cuisines, from around the Mediterranean, into Iran and India, harissa is an ideal all-purpose condiment when you’re serving people who have variable spice tolerances. It saved my life in Japan, when spicy food was hard to come by, and my SO found even black pepper painfully hot.
Hoisin is a common sauce used in Chinese and Vietnamese cooking. You can think of it as more-or-less equivalent to barbecue sauce — thick, pungent, sweet, and fragrant, it’s often used in glazes for roast meat. Many commercial hoisin sauces contain nothing more than sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, and starch (plus a list of additives) — and are flavoured with five-spice. You can quickly, and easily, make your own hoisin using with the ingredients of a typical pantry. Bonus, it’ll taste better than Lee Kum Kee, and you won’t have an extra bottle of rarely-used sauce cluttering your cupboard!
Everything in Yucatan is served with this simple salsa. It’s usually made with green habaneros (the orange one is apparently “totally different”). It’s great with al pastor, and cochinita pibil. Continue Reading
When we were first experimenting with cochinita pibil, we found a recipe including this salsa of pickled purple onion, and we loved it. The simpler recipe of blanched onions in bitter orange juice seems to be more typical in Yucatan. But vinagreta de cebolla is still our favourite. Spicy, and slightly smoky from the charred habaneros; with the aroma of allspice and oregano. It’s quintessentially Caribbean, and ideal for pulled pork. It’s so good, we find ourselves eating it by the spoonful. — Brad and Eliseo Continue Reading