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Archive for Condiments

TIP OF THE DAY: Crunchy Fried (Or Baked) Tortilla Strips

What more crunch in your summer salads?

Toasted croutons and chow mein noodles have long served that purpose.

You can also add slices of bell pepper, bok choy, carrot, celery, fennel, kohlrabi, radish or water chestnut; florets and stalks* of broccoli and cauliflower; and even nuts (try cashews).

Romaine is the crunchiest lettuce; you can substitute or add shredded cabbage.

But one ingredient we’ve been enjoying lately is fried tortilla strips.

It had not been top-of-mind for us until the lightbulb turned on as we were crunching on the Skinnylicious Mexican Tortilla Salad at The Cheesecake Factory. These strips are more flavorful than chow mein noodles and most packaged croutons.

We asked ourself: Why don’t we use them on every salad?

We headed to the supermarket and found bags of fried tortilla strips, from Fresh Gourmet’s slender Tri-Color Tortilla Strips to Mission’s standard strips that are wide enough for dipping.

But you can easily make your own, simply by cutting corn tortillas into strips and frying or baking. The only difference is that yours will be fresh, warm and all natural. Bonus: You can control the amount of salt.

There’s nothing better than homemade tortilla strips, warm and fragrant from cooking. They’re made the same way as tortilla chips; just in a different shape.


  • 4 six-inch corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
  • Kosher salt

  • Deep-fry/candy thermometer
  • Wire skimmer

    1. STACK the tortillas. Cut them in half, then crosswise into thin strips (you can use a pizza cutter). Line a baking sheet with a double thickness of paper towels, for draining.

    2. POUR 3 inches of oil into a 4-5 quart pot. Clip the thermometer to the pot and heat the oil over medium-high to 350°F. Test the oil with a drop of water from the tap. If it sizzles, it’s ready; if it splatters, it’s too hot. Turn off the heat for a few minutes.

    3. ADD half of the tortillas to the oil carefully—that oil is hot!—and use a wire skimmer or slotted spoon to stir often so they don’t burn. The strips should be submerged in the oil until golden brown (about 3 minutes).

    4. REMOVE the tortillas with the skimmer or a slotted spoon, allowing the excess oil to drain back into the pot. Spread the strips on the paper towels to drain, and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
    If you won’t be using the strips within a few hours, let them cool and store them in an airtight jar.


    Tortilla Strip Garnish

    Tortilla Strips


    [1] Mexican Tortilla Salad. Here’s the Skinnylicious recipe from Cheesecake Factory. [2] You can make your strips long as in the first photo, or short like these (photo courtesy Heather H. | [3] Beautiful colors of tortilla chips (photo courtesy Ramiro Valencia, D.R.).

    Spicy Variation

    This option brushes the tortillas with seasoned oil, before stacking and cutting.

  • 1-1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1?4-1?2 teaspoon ground red chili flakes
    COMBINE the oil and spices; brush one side of each tortilla with the mixture and proceed with steps above.
    Oven Variation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F.

    2. SPRAY a baking with cooking spray and spread the the strips, trying not to let them overlap. Sprinkle with salt.

    3. BAKE for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

    In addition to a salad garnish, try them on:

  • Mac & Cheese, instead of toasted crumbs
  • Sandwiches, including burgers and franks
    *There’s no reason to toss the bottom stalks of broccoli and cauliflower. The reason people do is because we’re accustomed to eating the “pretty” florets. The stalks are just as delicious—and they’re the parts used to make fancy purées. We cut them into coins and steam or roast them.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Ketchup For Your Cookout

    Homemade Ketchup

    Burger & Sweet Potato Fries

    Hot Dogs With Ketchup

    [1] Homemade ketchup [2] with burgers (photos courtesy GoodEggs) and [3] on franks (photo courtesy Applegate).


    If you’re considering making something for a cookout, how about homemade ketchup?

    You can make your own ketchup in just ten minutes of prep time, plus 45 minutes of cooking. You can choose a better sweetener, avoiding high fructose corn syrup by substituting agave*, cane sugar, honey, maple syrup or non-caloric sweetener.

    And you can add specialty seasonings such as chipotle, curry, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño and sriracha.

    The following recipe is from Good Eggs of San Francisco. Here’s an alternative ketchup recipe made with honey (instead of brown sugar and molasses), cloves (instead of cumin) and coconut oil (instead of olive oil).


    Ingredients For 1 Pint

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) canned whole tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
    Flavor Variations

    Instead of the allspice, cloves and cumin, you can flavor the ketchup with other seasonings.

    Divide the base ketchup into half-cup test batches and test different flavors. Flavoring a half cup at a time enables you to adjust the seasonings to your particular taste.

  • Chipotle Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon each ground cumin, chipotle chile powder and lime juice
  • Cranberry Ketchup: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or frozen cranberries, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice.
  • Curry Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1-1/2 teaspoons lime juice.
  • Garlic Ketchup: 1 clove garlic, finely chopped, 1/2 teaspoon lime juice.
  • Horseradish Ketchup: 1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish.
  • Jalapeño Ketchup: 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped canned jalapeños, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.
  • Sriracha Ketchup: 1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.
    You can also make hickory-smoke ketchup with liquid smoke, add lemon zest, and so forth.
    *When using agave, use half the amount since it’s twice as sweet as the other sweeteners.

    1. ADD 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a heavy-bottomed pot and place over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions. Cook for 3 minutes, until translucent; then add the garlic.

    2. AFTER another 4 minutes, add the tomatoes (including the liquid), vinegar, salt, allspice, cayenne and black pepper. Cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat, until the tomatoes have broken down. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes.

    3. POUR the mixture into a blender and pulse until it’s a smooth purée. Be careful: Blending a hot liquid requires extra attention. Using a dish towel, hold down the lid tightly. An immersion blender is a superior alternative for puréeing hot liquids.

    4. POUR the purée back into the pot and add the the brown sugar and molasses. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes uncovered, until the mixture has thickened. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge for up to a week.

    The concept was brought to England from Southeast Asia in the late 1600s, and had no tomatoes. The first printed recipe for kachop was an early version of what we know as Worcestershire Sauce.

    Check out the history of ketchup.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Grilled Watermelon Steaks

    Grilled Watermelon Recipe

    Seedless Watermelon

    [1] Grilled watermelon steaks with walnut gremolata (photo courtesy McCormick). [2] Use seedless watermelon (photo courtesy Bridges Produce).


    We’ve previously recommended cauliflower steaks and grilled cabbage steaks. Today’s “field meat” steaks are made with watermelon. The sweet fruit is grilled with savory seasonings to create a special first course.

    Seedless watermelon is cut into thick “steaks”; marinated in a mixture of white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and rosemary; and topped with a walnut gremolata.

    What’s gremolata? It’s a lively, fresh-chopped condiment that typically includes parsley and/or other green herbs, plus lemon zest and garlic. It’s the traditional accompaniment to osso bucco, braised veal shank; but it’s a tasty accent to many dishes. Bonus: Because it’s so flavorful, you can cut back on salt.

    Here’s more about gremolata, including the classic gremolata recipe.

    Prep time is 10 minutes, cook time is 8 minutes. Some people like to cut the watermelon into rectangles, in line with the steak theme. You also can cut the grilled watermelon into bite-size squares and serve them as hors d’oeuvres.

    Ingredients For 8 Servings

  • 1/2 small seedless watermelon
  • 1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (substitute kosher salt)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
    For The Gremolata

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

    1. CUT four 1-inch-thick, half-moon slices of watermelon. Reserve any remaining watermelon for another use.

    2. MIX the vinegar, oil, lemon juice, rosemary, salt and pepper in small bowl. Reserve 2 tablespoons for drizzling over the grilled watermelon. Place the watermelon steaks in glass dish and add the rest of the marinade. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, turning the watermelon halfway through. Meanwhile…

    3. MAKE the walnut gremolata: Mix the walnuts, parsley and lemon peel in a small bowl and set aside. Remove the steaks from the marinade, reserving the leftover marinade for basting the watermelon during grilling.

    4. GRILL the steaks over high heat for 2 to 4 minutes per side or until grill marks appear, brushing with the leftover marinade after the 2-minute mark.

    5. SERVE: Cut the watermelon steaks in half. Drizzle with the reserved marinade. Sprinkle with the gremolata.

    We turned to the National Watermelon Board to learn that:

  • There’s really no difference between seedless and seeded watermelon when it comes to taste. Most people prefer not having to deal with seeds, as opposed to those who enjoy seed-spitting contests.
  • A watermelon’s flavor is impacted by different factors, and seeds aren’t really one of them. Flavor can be greatly influenced by seed variety, the time of year the fruit was harvested, the amount of rain the crop received, the general climate it was grown in, how much direct sunlight it got, the type of soil, and other variables.
  • All watermelon grown for retail sale must meet a minimum brix level, a measurement of sweetness. Most watermelons exceed that level.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Creative Toppings For Burgers, Brats & Franks

    Memphis Burger With BBQ & Coleslaw

    Burger With Avocado & Salsa

    Cheeseburger Surprise

    Top: The Memphis Burger, with cheddar, barbecued pork and cole slaw (photo courtesy Cheesecake Factory). Center: South Of The Border: avocado and salsa (photo courtesy Omaha Steaks). Bottom: Mac and Cheese Burger (photo courtesy Glory Days Grill.


    On Father’s Day, most people assume that dads wants to dine out. But a recent survey of 775 dads nationwide conducted by restaurant guide Zagat, says something different. While 80% of those surveyed say they love dining out in general, for Father’s Day more than half of them just want to stay home.

  • 52% of the dads claim they just want to stay home for a meal with their families.
  • 29% reveal that “having to go out at all” is their number one Father’s Day dining out complaint.
  • 14% “just want to be left alone.”
  • When asked about their ideal Father’s Day meal, only 14% prefer a high-end steakhouse.
  • 18% would enjoy going out to something easy and local.
    Other complaints against include going out include dread of driving (traffic, parking), having to pay the bill at their own celebration, and having to dress up.

    The best path, of course, is to ask your dad what he wants. If that’s just burgers and franks in the backyard, you can still make it a special celebration with these ideas for creative toppings from, along with a few of our own.

    Pampered Chef is a great resource for high-quality kitchen wares and yummy recipes to make with them.

    It’s time to set aside the ketchup and mustard, says The Pampered Chef, and take burgers and hot dogs from meh to amazing.

    Whether dad prefers burgers made of beef, bison, chicken, pork, turkey or veggies—or prefers brats, classic hot dogs or sausages—plan a creative cookout.

  • Bacon, Brie and grilled apples
  • Bacon, blue cheese and caramelized onions
  • Bacon and peach jam
  • Fried egg, pickled onions, baby arugula and barbecue sauce
  • Fried onion rings, queso (cheese sauce) and pickled jalapeños
  • Goat cheese, roasted red peppers and chutney
  • Grilled pineapple and teriyaki sauce
  • Guacamole, chunky salsa and tortilla chips
  • Hummus or spinach dip, crumbled feta cheese and Kalamata olives
  • Kimchi and wasabi mayonnaise
  • Mac and cheese with sliced tomato, onion and crumbled tortilla chips
  • Pimento cheese spread and grilled onions
  • Provolone cheese, marinara sauce and fresh basil
  • Potato chips and onion dip
  • Sautéed onions and mushrooms
  • Sautéed spinach and mushrooms
  • Snow crab, avocado and pickled ginger


  • Apple-cabbage slaw
  • Baked beans, diced red onion, shredded cheese, cilantro, optional salsa
  • Baked potato “bun” (put the bun in a well-done, split baked potato), bacon, sour cream & chives (The “Boise Dog”)
  • Carrot, cucumber and radish salad with herb mayonnaise (The “San Francisco Dog”)
  • Carrot salad with raisins and optional walnuts
  • Dilled cucumber salad with fresh parsley garnish
  • Caramelized onions and bacon with melted Gruyère
  • Chili, diced onions and shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Green chiles, red onions, red jalapeños and sour cream (The “Denver Dog”)
  • Crumbled potato chips and onion dip
  • Guacamole, cilantro and diced red onions
  • Ham, Swiss cheese, pickles and spicy mustard
  • Muffuletta olive salad (The “New Orleans Dog”)
  • Mustard slaw (half sauerkraut, half mustard or blend to taste), sweet pickle chips
  • Pesto, fresh basil, diced tomatoes, and grated Parmesan (“The Italian”)
  • Sauerkraut, shredded corned beef, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing (“The Reuben”)
  • Queso (cheese sauce), pickled jalapeños, shredded lettuce, diced tomato and sour cream (“The Mexican”)
  • Pickled vegetables (giardiniera) and mustard slaw
  • Pineapple relish, lemon-garlic mayonnaise and starfruit (substitute diced mango) (The “Honolulu Dog”)
  • Pizza sauce, melted or shredded mozzarella and sliced pepperoni
  • Scrambled eggs and sautéed mushrooms (“The Brunch Dog”)
  • Sweet pickle relish and shredded pepperjack cheese
  • Vidalia onion and peach relish (The “Atlanta Dog”)


    Mexican Hot Dog

    Fancy Hot Dogs

    Top: A Mexican Dog with shredded Cheddar, onions, tomatoes and jalapeños; chili optional (photo courtesy Body By Bison). Bottom: Brat with dill pickles, pepperoncini and cilantro (photo courtesy Kindred Restaurant).


    Ask guests to suggest creative toppings in advance of the event. Create them and let everyone vote for the winner.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Cheese Spreads, Cheese Condiments

    Fig Spread With Cheese

    Bonne Maman Fig Spread

    Top: Crostini with Brie, Serrano ham and Fig Spread (photo courtesy Favor The Moments). Bottom: Enjoy trying the different spreads with different cheeses (photo courtesy Bonne Maman).


    What’s a cheese condiment? What’s a cheese spread? you may ask. Here’s the food nerd explanation:

  • Cheese spread is one of the sweet cheese condiments.
  • A condiment is an auxiliary food product that adds flavor to another food.
  • “Condiment” is first found in print in French around 1420, and derives from the Latin condimentum, spice.
  • Mankind has been enjoying condiments for much longer, even before the dukkah of ancient Egypt the ancient Romans’ beloved fish sauce, garum.
    Chutney, ketchup, mustard and pickle relish are examples of condiments that enhance burgers and franks. Although you may not think of them as such, fudge sauce, marshmallow cream and whipped cream are ice cream condiments.

    Given America’s growing familiarity with fine cheeses, here’s an…


    What is the difference between a mostarda and a mustard? Why would you put honey on cheese? Can you use the same condiments on a log of fresh goat cheese and an aged Gouda?

    Cheeses are wonderful on their own, but cheese condiments can bring out their nuances. Similar to wine pairings, the flavor and age of the cheese are taken into account when deciding on pairings.

    We have an elaborate chart of cheese condiment pairings, from aged balsamic and mustard to sweet condiments such as chutney, honey and preserves.

    Cheeses served with sweet condiments make delicious appetizers, desserts and snacks.

    Take a look at the newest cheese condiments in town: three fruit spreads from premium jam, jelly and preserves company, Bonne Maman. They are all natural, non-GMO and certified kosher by OU.


    First, a word about “spreads.”

    There are different types of fruit spreads, including chutney, jam, jelly, preserve and others.

    Aside from the jam and jelly group, some people hear “cheese spread” and think of like Port Wine Cheddar. Not here.

    As regards jam, in the U.S., “fruit spread” is generally a reduced-calorie product, replacing all or part of the sugar with fruit juice concentrate and low-calorie sweeteners. Not the case with Bonne Maman.

    The new spreads from Bonne Mamam are very thick and concentrated preserves that don’t run or dribble: They stand firm, enabling you to use them in more ways. The flavor, too, is more intense—glorious, in fact. It was all we could do not to eat them directly from the jar. (Well, maybe we did.)

    The best pairings are the ones you like. We’ve made some suggestions, but let your palate be your guide.


    Black Cherry Spread Cheese Pairings

    Tart cherries pair well with both sharp and creamy cheeses. We pair it with goat cheese, Brie and Camenbert.
    Purple Fig Spread Cheese Pairings

    This one is easy: Fig pairs well with all types of cheese.
    Quince Spread Cheese Pairings

    For centuries, membrillo, quince paste, has been the classic condiment for aged Spanish cheeses. Cabrales and Manchego are most often found in the U.S., but your cheesemonger may also have Idiazabal, Roncal, Zamorano and others. Italy’s Parmigiano-Reggiano, with nuances similar to Manchego, pairs well; so does aged provolone. The nutty Swiss mountain cheeses are also a match: Appenzeller, Emmental (with the big holes called eyes), Gruyère* and French Comté.

    Plan a cheese tasting with fruit spreads and other condiments. Your family and friends will love it!

    As of this writing, you can download a $2 coupon on the Bonne Maman website.

    Looking for small Mother’s Day gifts or party favors? is currently selling a six-pack with free shipping.

    The spreads are also available at retailers nationwide.


    Quince Spread

    Bonne Maman Purple Fig Cheese Spread

    Top: Quince Spread atop a pyramid-shaped cheese (photo courtesy Taylor Takes A Taste). Bottom: A jar of Purple Fig Spread (photo courtesy

    *Switzerland has produced Gruyère for hundreds of years, but after an appeal to the EU, France was also allowed to use the name. French Gruyère must be made with tiny eyes—“between the size of a pea and a cherry”—to distinguish it from the original.



    RECIPE: Guinness BBQ Sauce

    Cheeseburger With Potato Skins

    Guinness Ribs

    Add Guinness stout to your BBQ sauce. Photos and recipe courtesy Tony Roma’s.


    Tony Roma’s is giving a St. Patrick’s Day twist to ribs and burgers, with Guinness BBQ Sauce.

    You don’t need the luck of the Irish to get some: Here’s the recipe, which combines the dark, malty flavors of Ireland’s favorite beer, Guinness stout, with the sweet and savory flavors of good barbecue sauce.

    Don’t want to cook? Head to the nearest Tony Roma’s restaurant for Irish Baby Back Ribs and the Irish Burger.

    If you don’t need as much sauce, cut back the recipe. Or, gift some to friends and family.


    Ingredients For 2½ Quarts Sauce

  • 1½ quarts ketchup
  • 3 bottles (12 ounces each) Guinness
  • 4 ounces molasses
  • 2 tablespoons minced roasted garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon steak seasoning (see below)
  • 2 ounces apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • HEAT the ketchup, Guinness, molasses, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, steak seasoning, vinegar and black pepper over low heat for 12-15 minutes.
  • That’s it!

    You can buy steak seasoning or make your own.

  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
    Optional Ingredients

  • Cayenne pepper, cumin, chili powder, mustard powder or whatever you like.

  • COMBINE the ingredients in a medium bowl; gently whisk together. Store in an airtight jar in a dark place away from heat.
    To season meat prior to grilling:

  • RUB the steaks, chops or chicken with olive oil; then generously coat with the seasoning prior to grilling.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Green Ketchup For St. Patrick’s Day

    Green Ketchup Recipe

    Heinz Green Ketchup

    Homemade green ketchup, and the gone-but-not-forgotten version from Heinz. Top photo courtesy This Mama Cooks, bottom photo courtesy The Kraft Heinz Company.


    Ketchup is one of the most familiar condiments in America. Even in our big melting pot, is there a demographic group that hasn’t tried it?

    Ketchup has many uses beyond eating, including polishing silverware and removing the green tinge in bleached blonde hair (no kidding—check out these non-food uses for ketchup).

    But given all its food uses, why not make a big batch of green ketchup for St. Patrick’s Day meals and gifting?

    Housewives have been making green tomato sauce since…well, probably since there were green tomatoes.

    But back in 2000, ketchup giant H.J. Heinz decided to bring red ketchup flavor to green ketchup*. Targeted to kids, their Blastin’ Green ketchup, created as a promotion in tandem with the first Shrek movie, was a smash. It engendered additional colors for the E-Z Squirt line: Awesome Orange, Funky Purple, Passion Pink, Stellar Blue and Totally Teal.

    Alas for its fans, although 25 million units were sold, the novelty lost steam and the colors were discontinued in 2006.

    There was a brief revival in 2012. Heinz created green ketchup packets for a Burger King St. Patrick’s Day promotion; but that idea didn’t fly past 2012. [Source]

    Don’t be daunted by the lack of green ketchup on store shelves. You can make your own green ketchup with green tomatoes. There are many recipes online, from sweet to spicy.

    This green ketchup recipe from is made with the low glycemic, better-than-sugar sweetener, agave nectar (a.k.a. agave syrup).

    It’s easy to flavor your homemade ketchup, with variations such as Cranberry, Curry, Horseradish and Hot Chile (Chipotle, Jalapeño, Sriracha, etc.)

    Green ketchup has the same uses as red ketchup, of course. And if you only use ketchup with burgers and fries, or with breakfast eggs, you’re not giving it its full props.

    Use your green ketchup to make green condiments for St. Patrick’s Day.

  • Add mayo, sour cream or yogurt to create a dipping sauce.
  • Use it as the base fr green barbecue sauce.
  • Combine it with mayonnaise to make Russian Dressing.
  • Add some pickle relish to Russian Dressing for Thousand Island Dressing.

    In fact, it was brown and the precursor of modern Worcestershire sauce.

    The first known recipe for ketchup in English was published in 1727 by one Eliza Smith (you can still buy it). Part of a volume entitled Compleat Housewife; or, Accomplished Gentlewoman’s Companion, the condiment was spelled as “kachop,” a transliteration of the Asian fish sauce after which it was fashioned.

    Ingredients included anchovies, shallots, white wine vinegar, two types of white wine, mace, ginger, cloves, whole peppers, a whole nutmeg, lemon peel and horseradish.

    Check out the history of ketchup.

    *Making ketchup in colors required re-engineering of the ketchup product. The red color had to be stripped out and food coloring was added. The flavor was tweaked to taste like the original. [Source]



    TIP OF THE DAY: Gochujang Sauce, The Next Sriracha

    Over the past five years, sriracha, a Thai hot sauce which most of us had never heard of previously, has emerged as the hot sauce of choice. It’s more flavorful than many of the big-brand American hot pepper sauces that had long been the norm.

    But climbing up the ladder is a new (to most Americans) hot sauce alternative: gochujang (go-CHOO-jang). This Korean fermented hot sauce is a mixture of red chili powder, glutinous rice powder, fermented soy beans, salt, other seasonings like garlic and onion, and a bit of sugar syrup or malt. It is then aged.

    As a result, it is even more complex in flavor than sriracha. Some chefs call it “an umami bomb,” combining spicy, salty, sweet and earthy notes.

    Gochujang is a staple Korean condiment also known in English as Korean hot pepper paste. Sweet heat with the consistency of hoisin sauce, it’s used in a wide range of Korean dishes, from bibimbap to dukbokki (stir-fried rice cakes) to tteokbokki to something more familiar: fried chicken. And of course, it can be used in American recipes instead of barbecue sauce, ketchup and other condiments.

    It deepen the flavors (and color!) of everything from broth to noodle dishes and vegetables. Incorporate it into a recipe, or serve it as a table condiment so people can add their own.

    A group of 18 recipes from Bon Appetit includes recipes for, among others:

  • Bibimbap
  • Chicken Wings
  • Congee
  • Grilled Sesame Shrimp
  • Hangar Steak
  • Kimchi
  • Pork Ribs and Pork Shoulder
  • Stews, including Sundubu with Clams and Tofu
  • Veggies: Brussels Sprouts and Tofu Stir-Fry, Roasted Winter Squash, Sautéed Cabbage
    When mixed with Korean red miso (doenjang), it creates ssamjang, a condiment for lettuce wraps (ssam) and raw or blanched vegetables.


    Gochujang Sauce

    Gochuchang Sauce

    Korean Fried Chicken

    Top: Gochuchang sauce, also called paste because of its consistency. If you can’t find it locally, you can buy it online or make your own. Center: A bowl of gochuchang, served as a condiment. Photo courtesy Bottom: Spicy fried chicken. Here’s the recipe from

    Add some gochujang to mayonnaise as a spread or a dip for crudités or fries. Serve it plain with eggs. Put it on a burger or hot dog. You can blend in fruit for an even more complex sauce.

    Add it to dressings, marinades and sauces to add some spicy flavor. You can make a Korean-style arrabiata sauce for pasta, or pair it with other noodle dishes and rice.

    Although it contains no tomatoes, some Americans think of gochujank as spicy Korean ketchup.

    What are you waiting for? Add it to your shopping list!

    All commercial gochujang is imported, and some labels are only in Korean.

    “The best gochujang” is a matter of personal taste. You may like more sweetness, we may like less. That said, if you’re in an Asian market with multiple options, you could ask a clerk to explain the differences.

    If you pursue a close relationship with gochuchang, you may discover different styles, including chalgochujang (sweet rice gochujang) and taeyangcho (sundried, i.e. the paste is actually dried under the sun).

    However, as with ketchup, mustard, soy sauce and other condiments, you won’t find a disappointing one.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Shpickles Pickled Vegetables, Shmolives Pickled Olives

    Last summer, when scouting a Brooklyn food festival, we came across Shpickles, Shmolives and Shnuts. They’re made by hand by a mom-and-son company called Brooklyn Whatever.

    Mom, a social worker and son, a chef, started a family business to add more flavor to pickles, olives and nuts. The result: unique, assertively spiced, better-for-you snacks, garnishes, or for a relish tray.

    Or for gifts. We can’t think of a better house gift for hosts, combining flavor and fun. Shpickles and Shmolives will be our go-to house gifts for the forseable future.

    The line is all natural and certified kosher by Rabbi Dovid Chaoi. Shpickles and Shmolives are free of dairy, gluten, soy, sugar and wheat, making them vegan as well.

    Other companies make great pickle cucumbers. Brooklyn Whatever has started out with other pickled vegetables:

  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower & Beets
  • Jalapeño Peppers
  • Kale Slaw
  • Okra
  • String Beans
    We can’t choose favorites here: We like them all. And we feel so good about eating them: So much flavor, so few calories.

    Shmolives is a blend of seven different olives, marinated in a “secret mix” of herbs and spices that adhere to the olives, giving you a mouthful of zing with each bite.

    Made by hand in small batches “the old way”—stirring to coat the olives with wood spoons—they are a must for any olive lover.

    Shnuts are a mix of almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans and walnuts—no peanuts.

    They’re sweet and savory: herbs and spices with a touch of brown sugar. Made with all natural ingredients, filled with “good fat,” a handful is a healthful snack.

    HEALTH NOTES: The USDA-approved heart-healthy nuts are almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts. These nuts contain less than 4g of saturated fats per 50g. Walnuts have the highest amount of the heart-healthy alpha linolenic acid, which many studies show lowers total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) levels.

    As with Shpickles and Shmolives, Shnuts are prepared by hand, roasted twice and flavored to perfection: the perfect “shnack.”


    Shpickles Brussels Sprouts

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    A sampling of Shpickles: Brussels Sprouts, Carrots and Cauliflower & Beets.

    Shpickles are $10 per 15-ounce jar, Shmolives are $15 per 15-ounce jar. Shnuts are not yet on the website, but should be there soon.

    Get yours at

    Plan ahead for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day gifting.

    Not to mention green gifting for St. Patrick’s Day, with Shpickles Brussels Sprouts, Jalapeños, Kale Slaw, Okra and String Beans.



    RECIPE: Pickled Fennel (Fennel Pickles)


    A head of fennel. The white portion is the
    bulb, the feathery green tops/stems are the
    fronds. Photo courtesy Valerie Confections.


    We’ve always loved fennel in a salad (like cucumber salad or this Orange-Fennel Salad) or on a crudité plate. But we never thought to pickle it until we saw this recipe from Quinciple, which makes weekly deliveries of the freshest seasonal produce.

    Fennel makes such a charming, crunchy pickle that we began to make it as house gifts. It’s made without sugar, and is low in sodium: a win for everyone!

    Quinciple recommends the pickled fennel in and on:

  • Cheese plates
  • Ham sandwiches (we like it on other sandwiches too, including grilled cheese and burgers)
  • Potato salad (chop it finely)
  • Green salad (add some fresh herbs and use a bit of the pickling liquid as the acid in the dressing)

    Ingredients For 1 Pint

  • 1 head fennel
  • 2 strips orange zest, neatly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar (substitute cider vinegar)
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


    1. CUT off the fennel leaf stalks just above where the bulb ends and the fronds begin. Reserve 3-4 of the prettiest leaf fronds; wash and set aside.

    2. TRIM off the bottom of the bulb and, if bruised, the outer layer. Give the bulbs a quick rinse. Slice them in half lengthwise, then cut the fennel into ¼-inch-wide slices.

    3. PLACE the fennel fronds, zest and peppercorns into a clean pint jar, making sure they are arranged nicely against the glass. Add the fennel slices. Make sure there is ½” of headroom above the fennel.

    4. COMBINE the vinegar, water and salt in a small pot and bring to a boil. Pour the boiling brine over the fennel. Let cool, cover tightly with the lid and place in the fridge. The pickles will keep for about 2 weeks.

    Fennel is in season from fall to early spring. It’s crunchy like celery, with a slight anise taste.


    Pickled Fennel

    Elegant and yummy fennel pickles. Photo and recipe courtesy Quinciple.

    A member of the parsley family, fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and celery (Petroselinum crispum) are botanical cousins, members of the same order* (Apiales) and family* (Apiaceae). Both are believed to be indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, growing wild before they were cultivated.

    Records of fennel’s use date back to about 1500 B.C.E, although it has been enjoyed by mankind for much longer.

    Fennel is highly aromatic and flavorful, with both culinary and medicinal uses. The bulb and stalks resemble celery, the leaves look like dill (Anethum graveolens, also of the same order and family), and the aroma and flavor resemble sweet licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabraa, a totally different order [Fabales] and family [Fabaceae]).

    Fennel can be substituted for celery in recipes when an additional nuance of flavor is desired. We also enjoy it as part of a crudité plate. The fronds make a lovely plate garnish, and can be dried and used as herbs.

    Fennel seeds are a popular spice, for baking, bean dishes, brines, fish, pork, sausages and much more. We especially like them in cole slaw and cucumber salad. Plain and sugar-coated fennel seeds are used as a spice and an after-meal mint in India and Pakistan.
    *In case you don’t remember plant taxonomy from high school biology, here’s a refresher.



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