Can you smell that? If so, I apologize. I had Chipotle for lunch.
We should probably cover it up with some good cookin’, and as with all things, the best place to go for advice on that is Reddit.
Prepare your recipe books. Let’s go!
Seriously, get yourself a huge bag for like $15 bucks and thank me later.
It’s lemony and salty, sweet and smoky and earthy and beautifully red. Sprinkle it on toast, curry, chicken, steak, tacos, devilled eggs, ice cream… Just about everything.
You can also brew it like tea and it has an intense wild-berry flavor.
It is often the thing that is missing when people go for more salt and spices in their cooking wondering why it doesn’t taste quite as good as in a restaurant.
Thyme pairs well with meat, tomatoes, and beans.
It is the main ingredient in the classic French herb combinations Bouquet Garni and Herbes de Provence.
These herb blends are frequently used to flavor meat, stews, and soups.
Can’t imagine not having thyme on my side when cooking a wide variety of dishes.
4. Garam Masala
I find it to be sooo good in many savory dishes.
I replace cumin with it whenever it’s called for.
It’s INCREDIBLE in chili or any Asian-influenced dishes!
5. Garlic Salt
It is 100% a gateway spice.
It starts as a hungry young adult with no culinary knowledge. Your ramen all tastes the same. People like to put seasoning in their food, right? Could buy this salt and pepper… But wait, this is garlic salt? Hm, maybe it’ll taste a little better, throw it in the cart.
D**n, these cheap ramen noodles are great with the garlic salt and a bit of pepper. What else do people put in Ramen?
Celery. Go buy some.
Some sriracha? No idea how to pronounce this, throw it in.
An egg? Shoot, was planning on letting those rot.
There are other ingredients too?!
Hamburger helper? Wait, I could make this cheaper by purchasing the ingredients separately.
Five years later you’re cooking from scratch. If it exists, you can cook it.
Garlic salt is a gateway spice.
They are just amazing.
Do you enjoy lemon in your sauce? Orange is better.
Fill your fish with baked oranges, will blow your mouth away.
Hibiscus tea? Someone? Put orange and ginger, the most refreshing tea ever made.
Chicken with orange and wine reduction? Beautiful.
I’m not a chef but I would say lemon.
It’s nicer than vinegar in most things and brightens up dishes so much.
A lot of why home cooked food tastes heavy or flat is because you don’t have enough acid in them.
8. Ghost Chili
It’s my secret ingredient for mild heat. Yes, one of the hottest peppers in the world is the best for mild salsa. I discovered this when I worked at a Mexican restaurant way back in the day. We had a ghost pepper recipe, and when it went out of style I took home the left over ghost chili powder (a little goes a long way. It’s hard to run out of the stuff).
The secret is plain old proportions. It’s super effing hot, so 1 matchstick head worth of ghost chili for a bowl of soup (or salsa, as it were) will provide a good medium heat. A sprinkle (or half a match head) for mild.
Ghost pepper is wonderful in this role because in small amounts it actually has a very mild, low and slow sort of burn. Compared to jalapeno or especially tabasco–peppers which have a frontal heat that hits you in the face and burns your lips–ghost chili hits further back in the mouth and sinuses. No face pain, no crying, just a mild pleasant spiciness.
9. Ume Plum Vinegar
A savory vinegar made from fermented plums.
Adds sweetness, acid, and a savory complexity to anything.
Critical if you’re making vegan cheeses, but it also adds to teriyaki sauces, marinades, whatever.
S**t’s great. Just don’t forget to salt your food after you add it, since it’s somewhat salty.
An underrated ingredient you can use in marinades and dressings as well as in just about every bakery item, breads, cakes etc.
It just adds that extra “zip”.
11. Chicken Thigh
I wouldn’t exactly call myself a “chef” so much as “someone who likes to cook”.
But chicken thigh.
It’s SO much more juicy and tender than breast. It’s super flavourful, too. As well as WAY cheaper! If you’re having a BBQ, it just soaks up seasoning and sauce as well. It’s a super underrated meat.
In soups, sauces, stews, browned or with more components added, on meat, with fish, in mash…
I mean, the reason your food tastes better at a restaurant is because its made by a guy who doesn’t give a crap about your arteries or cholesterol and will nuke your food with the golden yellow deliciousness.
Man, now I’m hungry.
What’s YOUR secret ingredient?
Tell us in the comments.