Some ingredients pack so much bold, singular flavour, they can turn a basic dish into something truly elevated and extraordinary. Meet four of these superheroes – and learn how to use them to make your meals seriously delicious.
Cold rainbow noodles with spicy sambal cashews
This Indonesian hot sauce is thick and ﬁery. You can use it on anything you’d pour sriracha on, but it also works brilliantly to spice up cocktail nuts, like the sambal oelek-roasted cashews in this dish. Toss 2 cups nuts with 2 tablespoons each sambal oelek and pure maple syrup and a tablespoon of olive oil; roast at 160 deg C until fragrant, 20 to 25 minutes. Snack on them, turn them into a crunchy topping for salads, grains, and noodle bowls, or chop them up as a crust for salmon. They even taste great on chocolate ice cream.
Plain salt makes an ingredient taste more like itself – add some smoke, and you’ve got a new layer of complexity. A pinch will give your meals a slow-cooked ﬂavour, bring a deep smouldering to veggies (which is hard to achieve in plant-based dishes) and salads (like the vibrant creation on the next page), and even amplify the natural sweetness of desserts. Some other things that love a pinch of smoked salt: spice rubs; scrambled and fried eggs; Caesar, caprese, and citrus salads; caramelised roasted carrots; chocolate chip cookies; and chocolate bark.
Savoury melon salad with smoked salt
Experiment with different types of smoked salt—the flavour varies with the kind of wood used to smoke it.
Your dills, sours, and cornichons marinate in brine that’s deliciously acidic with sour, sweet, or spiced notes. Add it to dishes, and that bright hit will instantly invigorate your food while cutting through and balancing out richer ﬂavours. A splash of pickle juice will bring new life to avocado toast – same goes for a basic bean salad, roasted vegetables, and grilled meat. It’s also a tangy boost to creamy dips and spreads. And go beyond pickles – the brines from sauerkraut and kimchi are delicious workhorses too.of smoked salt: spice rubs; scrambled and fried eggs; Caesar, caprese, and citrus salads; caramelised roasted carrots; chocolate chip cookies; and chocolate bark.
Loaded yogurt dip with pickle juice and spicy green herb sauce.
Adding pickle brine is an easy way to amplify flavour.
Try the molasses as a swap for maple syrup or balsamic glaze.
Pomegranate molasses berry spelt shortcakes.
In Middle Eastern kitchens, this syrup is king. It’s made by reducing pomegranate juice to a concentrated sweet-tangy molasses. And it knows no limits. You can drizzle a hint of the exotic ﬂavour on ice cream, yogurt, and cakes, plus all the savoury foods too (like oatmeal). Add it to dips, meat (it’s great on burgers!), and veggies, and you’ll infuse them with a richness that changes the game.
PHOTOS SANG AN
FOOD STYLING SIMON ANDREWS
PROP STYLING SARAH SMART