Chefs Are Sharing The One Secret Ingredient They Use To Improve Common Dishes, And I'm Taking Notes
Never underestimate the power of these.
1. "Lemon juice. It enhances flavor in almost anything. Vinegar is too dominant for me."
"Get yourself a huge bag for like $15 and thank me later. It's lemony, salty, sweet, smoky, and earthy. Sprinkle it on toast, curry, chicken, steak, tacos, deviled eggs, even ice cream...it works on just about anything."
3. "Soy sauce. I will put it on anything...including fruit."
4. "Gochujang. If you're making a savory dish that could use a spicy or umami kick, Korean red chili paste is the answer."
5. "Kerrygold butter. It's silk on the tongue. So delicate and delicious, and so much better than any other butter I've tried."
6. "Kaffir lime leaf. It’s an incredible addition to all kinds of soups, curries, and rice. It complements dishes that rely heavily on fragrant and aromatic flavors."
8. "Za'atar. It's a mix of sumac, ground sesame seeds, and other herbs."
10. "Bay leaves. Like salt, you don't want them to be the dominant flavor in anything, but they make a night and day difference in stews and pasta sauces."
12. "Paprika makes everything taste better."
13. "Vinegar. It is often the ingredient that's missing when people add more salt and spices to their cooking, wondering why it doesn’t taste quite as good as the restaurant version."
14. "Thyme. It pairs especially well with meat, tomatoes, and beans."
15. "Cardamom. It gives a warm, floral scent and flavor to whatever you bake and can be paired with so many things."
"Treat yourself and add some cardamom and orange zest to your next batch of banana bread."
"Thyme is great in cocktails, too. It pairs well with acid and sugar."
17. "Black garlic. It makes everything taste a hundred times better. Crush it into a paste and make a compound butter."
18. "Nutritional yeast. It makes everything taste more complex and a bit funky. I absolutely love it."
19. "Tajín seasoning adds a bit of lime and a little kick to your food. I put it on almost everything."
20. "Garam masala. It's so good in many savory dishes."
21. "Vanilla extract. It is to sweet as salt is to savory."
22. "White wine. Some chefs like to add a dash of lemon or lime juice to their foods, but I think white wine works better."
23. "Chicken thighs. They're so much juicier, more tender, and more flavorful than chicken breasts. Not to mention, they're way cheaper, too."
24. "Buttermilk. It's an underrated ingredient you can use in marinades and dressings as well as in baked goods like breads and cakes. It just adds that extra zip."
25. "Garlic. I add at least three times more than whatever a recipe calls for."
27. "Stock cubes. They add a lot of flavor, seasoning, and depth."
28. "Anchovies. They give so much more depth to many pasta dishes."
29. "Mushroom seasoning. It's versatile, salty, savory, and an umami bomb. I most often use it in Asian-inspired cooking in place of or in addition to salt."
30. "Fried egg. There aren't many dishes that can't be improved with a fried egg on top."
31. "Fish sauce. It's the ultimate flavor bomb. It beats soy, miso, kombu, anchovies. It can transform almost any dish."
What's your go-to secret ingredient that will make just about anything taste better? Share in the comments!
Note: Some of these responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.