If you check out the cupboard above my stove you will see it groaning under the weight of dozens of bottles. These bottles hold very special liquids to my kitchen, the magic flavours that with a splash here, a dash there and the latest stir fry or salad has the final dressing to wow our tastebuds.
Oils aint Oils
Oils really aren’t just oils. So much is dependant upon what you are cooking and how. Are you eating it in a salad, deep-frying something or just adding a hint of flavour to a pasta sauce. Which oils you choose will make all the difference. I always have the following oils on hand in my kitchen:
Olive Oil – Extra Virgin for cooking mediterranean flavoured dishes at a low to medium heat, or when I’m roasting meat or vegetables, nothing too expensive, and then something nicer for salads. Sometimes we’ll go for something with a hint of lemon or garlic to add another dimension but most of all its about having a nice flavour.
Canola or Vegetable Oil – For frying and cooking meats on the BBQ or anything at a high temperature.
Sesame Oil – Great as a few dashes in salads and also in your stir fries. An essential part of an asian styled salad or noodles. Add it at the end as if its heated too much it will go bitter.
Peanut Oil – for stir fries, imparting a nice flavour and will also work well in a high temperature.
Truffle Oil – a treat won in a hamper, but delicious drizzled on a risotto or pasta sauce last-minute. Use sparingly.
These make or break a salad dressing. Go for quality and don’t be scared to experiment. I could have twice as many flavours of vinegar and still not get bored or overwhelmed. Each one is perfect for its particular accompaniments.
Getting Hot Under The Collar
If you haven’t noticed purely by the number of bottle of pepper sauce and chilli based oils we have a bit of a thing for chilli in our house. For the other half, the more the better. For me, I prefer in moderation to enhance flavours rather than to make me sweat, and boy will some of the above sauces do the latter. Great as a pique in a salad dressing, a dash in your stir fry at the end to add that extra zing, or a splash in your guacamole mashed together quickly for a snack midweek or lazy sunday get together. Explore your local Asian grocers for some wonderful selections of Chili Oil and Sauces.
Yes there is more than one soy sauce. Depending on what you are cooking you might want a lighter soy to complement a steamed dumpling, but if you’re cooking up a sticky hokkien noodle dish then Kecap Manis is probably going to suit better. Darker soys tend to have a more mushroom flavour and sauces such as Hoisin are more fish based and suit as a salty and sweet side to Vietnamese hand rolls or peking duck.
These babies might even be called the essentials. For me, you can’t have Thai food without fish sauce and what would a meat marinade be without a splash of Worcestershire? Both fish based they add an essential earthy and salty flavour to bring out the best in your food. Again use sparingly but don’t forget about them if you want your food to taste authentic to the cuisine you’re creating.
What about you? What is your must have bottles of sauce in your cupboard?
Happy Cooking & Happy Eating,