Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sauces and Preserves Provide Instant Flavor

To add a quick jolt of flavor to a dish, whether it's at the table or during cooking, bottled sauces and preserves can really help. A dash of soy sauce or a few drops of Tabasco can instantly transform the flavor and character of a dish. There are a huge variety of bottled sauces on the market. Which ones to keep on stock are a matter of personal taste.
Tabasco Sauce
A fiery hot condiment made for a secret recipe involving hot peppers, this sauce is a favorite in many kitchens. It can be used in almost any dish where a kick of spicy heat is desired. Adding a few dashes to scrambled eggs gives flavorful life to an otherwise ordinary breakfast.

Horseradish Sauce
Traditionally, horseradish is mixed with vinegar and cream to make this pungent sauce. It can be added to beef, cold cuts, smoked fish, chicken and eggs quite easily to add a strong kick to the dish.

Worcestershire Sauce
A piquant, salty sauce with tones of black pepper, anchovies, molasses and tamarind, Worcestershire can be added to many foods, sauces, marinades, and dressings. Try sprinkling a few drops on simple cooked vegetables, such as peas or green beans when served as side dishes to roast beef or veal to add complexity and help them stand up to the full flavors of the roast.

Tomato Ketchup (Catsup)
A unique blend of tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and spices, ketchup has been a staple in American kitchens for decades. Besides using on hamburgers and fries, it is often added to dressings, stews, relishes and other sauces. It is a base for of one of three different types of barbecue sauce (the other types using either mustard or vinegar). In some western states, it is mixed with mayonnaise to make fry sauce. My own fry sauce replaces the ketchup with chili sauce.

Soy Sauce
There are several blends of soy sauces and each has it's own characteristics. Chinese soy sauce is mild, dark, and has a strong salty flavor. Japanse soy sauce is less salty, and slightly sweet. It is a common ingredient in many Asian dishes and stir-fries. Think of it as Chinese ketchup.

There are as many flavors of chutney as there are curry powders. Some are sweet and fruity; others are hot and spicy. Chutney is used in many Indian dishes, dressings, and sauces. Chutneys can also make a great accompaniment with cheese or in combination with mayonnaise.

Fruit Jams/Jellies
Not just for sandwiches, fruit jellies can be add sweetness and color to gravies and sauces, especially those served with pork, poultry, and game meats. Red current jelly is a classic, but plum jam is a less expensive, and more flavorful alternative.

A stable emulsion of oil and vinegar or lemon juice, mayonnaise has been used for years in Europe and America as a sandwich spread; egg yolks are the most common emulsifier used. It's mild flavor is often enhanced by adding various herbs and spices. As the popularity of mayonnaise has grown, different countries have created their own unique variations.

Photo by OhWoww!

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