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NFT: Your Favorite "Secret" Ingredient?

gidiefor : Mod : 3/25/2020 4:36 pm
Over the years I've had several go to spices, herbs, oils, food enhancers that I've embraced. They were all "secrets" in that I used them in my kitchen and never noticed them being widely used. Just wondering if the rest of you have secrets that you have learned to cook with and had success with.


I'll start with my absolute favorite ... fennel pollen. I use it on fish, game, poultry, steak and avocado along with sea salt, olive oil, and another favorite secret "grains of paradise." It has a serene herby anise/fennel flavor to it.
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Not really a secret ingredient, but I always double  
Bill in UT : 3/25/2020 7:38 pm : link
the garlic in any cooked recipe I make. Haven't killed anyone and haven't seen a vampire around ever. Raw garlic, no thanks. That shit will burn your throat out.
oh, and I guess from Ina Garten  
Bill in UT : 3/25/2020 7:39 pm : link
almost any chocolate dessert is helped by adding some coffee.
Some really great secrets here, keep it up!  
Kev in Cali : 3/25/2020 7:46 pm : link
Really like the anchovy idea...and as one who doesn't like anchovies by themselves; I think I'd hold off on the salt, and add some of these to seafood dishes for unique taste.
RE: Some really great secrets here, keep it up!  
montanagiant : 3/25/2020 7:57 pm : link
In comment 14849777 Kev in Cali said:
Quote:
Really like the anchovy idea...and as one who doesn't like anchovies by themselves; I think I'd hold off on the salt, and add some of these to seafood dishes for unique taste.

Anchovy paste is a great for adding umami to a dish. I add it when I make Hamburgers and it rocks it
RE: RE: Some really great secrets here, keep it up!  
smshmth8690 : 3/25/2020 8:03 pm : link
In comment 14849783 montanagiant said:
Quote:
In comment 14849777 Kev in Cali said:


Quote:


Really like the anchovy idea...and as one who doesn't like anchovies by themselves; I think I'd hold off on the salt, and add some of these to seafood dishes for unique taste.


Anchovy paste is a great for adding umami to a dish. I add it when I make Hamburgers and it rocks it


A little Worcestershire is great with beef too, probably due to the anchovies.
Spiced Rum  
PatersonPlank : 3/25/2020 8:11 pm : link
whether I am cooking or not
RE: Not really a secret ingredient, but I always double  
BlueLou'sBack : 3/25/2020 8:12 pm : link
In comment 14849772 Bill in UT said:
Quote:
the garlic in any cooked recipe I make. Haven't killed anyone and haven't seen a vampire around ever. Raw garlic, no thanks. That shit will burn your throat out.


Well Bill you win my vote for the first person to suggest something that might truly be a "secret" ingredient by dint that you suggest doubling it in ANY recipe it's called for.

I probably double, triple or quintuple it when called for, and perhaps more interestingly, insert it is small almost inoccuous amounts in recipes that. DON'T CALL for garlic at all, like fettuccine alfredo...

But my real secret ingredient, or Moe appropriately my secret class of ingredients, is acidity. Typically it's just a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice, but any form of acid works: citrus juices, vinegars (try adding a splash of balsamic vinegar to almost any stew) or even, if you have a winemaker hanging around your kitchen, some powdered tartaric or citric acid.

Great wines taught me that acid balance is a key to greatness in all things culinary, or even gustatory.
RE: RE: RE: Some really great secrets here, keep it up!  
montanagiant : 3/25/2020 8:12 pm : link
In comment 14849784 smshmth8690 said:
Quote:
In comment 14849783 montanagiant said:


Quote:


In comment 14849777 Kev in Cali said:


Quote:


Really like the anchovy idea...and as one who doesn't like anchovies by themselves; I think I'd hold off on the salt, and add some of these to seafood dishes for unique taste.


Anchovy paste is a great for adding umami to a dish. I add it when I make Hamburgers and it rocks it



A little Worcestershire is great with beef too, probably due to the anchovies.

Absolutely
Smshmth buddy -  
BlueLou'sBack : 3/25/2020 8:15 pm : link
Stop commenting on other people's secrets and cough up YOURS!
RE: RE: RE: Some really great secrets here, keep it up!  
LakeGeorgeGiant : 3/25/2020 8:29 pm : link
In comment 14849784 smshmth8690 said:
Quote:
In comment 14849783 montanagiant said:


Quote:


In comment 14849777 Kev in Cali said:


Quote:


Really like the anchovy idea...and as one who doesn't like anchovies by themselves; I think I'd hold off on the salt, and add some of these to seafood dishes for unique taste.


Anchovy paste is a great for adding umami to a dish. I add it when I make Hamburgers and it rocks it



A little Worcestershire is great with beef too, probably due to the anchovies.


I always do Worcestershire with beef. I put a little in hamburgers also.
RE: Smshmth buddy -  
smshmth8690 : 3/25/2020 8:43 pm : link
In comment 14849788 BlueLou'sBack said:
Quote:
Stop commenting on other people's secrets and cough up YOURS!


Not really a secret ingredient, but I love this Thai Green Curry paste. I've been making a simple version of Ton Kha Gai at home. One can of green curry paste, one can of coconut milk, added to about 6 cups of chicken stock, along with the cooked chicken, and a whole bunch of collard greens. I love it. Of course you can add more ingredients like fish sauce, lime juice, cilantro, sugar et., but I've been making the simple version a lot lately. (I like the red as well, but use it differently)

RE: A good beer (or two)  
ChathamMark : 3/25/2020 8:52 pm : link
In comment 14849764 PA Aggie said:
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When I put that in me first, everything tastes better.


+1
RE: Anchovy...  
Jim from Katonah : 3/25/2020 8:53 pm : link
In comment 14849730 BleedingBlue2 said:
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And dried mushroom powder.


Agreed with anchovies — sounds strange but try searing pounded-thin chicken breasts in a pan with olive oil, anchovy, garlic, dill, and a squirt of lime. Wow.
RE: Smshmth buddy -  
Bill in UT : 3/25/2020 8:55 pm : link
In comment 14849788 BlueLou'sBack said:
Quote:
Stop commenting on other people's secrets and cough up YOURS!


anything he coughs up would have to be quarantined
Cocaine  
Sneakers O'toole : 3/25/2020 9:17 pm : link
.
RE: This  
BMac : 3/25/2020 9:27 pm : link
In comment 14849684 Saquads26 said:
Quote:


Been using it for decades. Especially good on a roast chicken, with a few other (ssshhh, secret) ingredients.
Other than Cavender's...  
BMac : 3/25/2020 9:30 pm : link
...and among many others, I use Dulse flakes...instant umami.
Anchovy paste.  
CRinCA : 3/25/2020 10:02 pm : link
Nothing else to add to the above.
RE: RE: Smshmth buddy -  
Del Shofner : 3/25/2020 10:15 pm : link
In comment 14849801 smshmth8690 said:
Quote:
In comment 14849788 BlueLou'sBack said:


Quote:


Stop commenting on other people's secrets and cough up YOURS!



Not really a secret ingredient, but I love this Thai Green Curry paste. I've been making a simple version of Ton Kha Gai at home. One can of green curry paste, one can of coconut milk, added to about 6 cups of chicken stock, along with the cooked chicken, and a whole bunch of collard greens. I love it. Of course you can add more ingredients like fish sauce, lime juice, cilantro, sugar et., but I've been making the simple version a lot lately. (I like the red as well, but use it differently)



well, that's just traditional Jersey Shore ... :-)
Similar to others  
OlyWABigBlue : 3/25/2020 11:08 pm : link
my "secret" ingrediants are adding some southeast asian spices to otherwise, europe-centric cuisine. The vietnamese did this beautifully with the introduced french cuisine. That said, for slow cooked, braised or stew-type beef dishes, star anise in judicious amounts is incredible. I also like the lift that galangal provide to poultry and pork. A touch of good fish sauce can make the depth of dish seem endless between the umami and salt.
and the secret ingredient  
OlyWABigBlue : 3/25/2020 11:10 pm : link
to my proof reading skills is a killer RRV pinot.
If I told you  
Gman11 : 3/26/2020 7:22 am : link
I'd have to kill you.
On the anchovy hint..  
FatMan in Charlotte : 3/26/2020 7:35 am : link
you really can use it to give depth to many things. I use it similarly to the way Lou described, but my wife swears she'll never have anchovies, yet everytime I've made a Caesar Salad, I've mashed them into the dressing.

I come from an Italian family and for Christmas Eve, one of the seven fishes is always anchovies and olive oil on top of orange slices. I can see my wife not going for that - but it is delicious.
RE: RE: RE: RE: Some really great secrets here, keep it up!  
Coach Red Beaulieu : 3/26/2020 8:22 am : link
In comment 14849787 montanagiant said:
Quote:
In comment 14849784 smshmth8690 said:


Quote:


In comment 14849783 montanagiant said:


Quote:


In comment 14849777 Kev in Cali said:


Quote:


Really like the anchovy idea...and as one who doesn't like anchovies by themselves; I think I'd hold off on the salt, and add some of these to seafood dishes for unique taste.


Anchovy paste is a great for adding umami to a dish. I add it when I make Hamburgers and it rocks it



A little Worcestershire is great with beef too, probably due to the anchovies.


Absolutely

As others mentioned anchovie paste/fish sauce/Worcestershire, adds that playful higher note fermented salty umami taste. Its more complex than simply MSG and salt.
re: anchovies  
bc4life : 3/26/2020 10:16 am : link
saw a roast lamb recipe with anchovies - anyone ever done that?
RE: re: anchovies  
Jim from Katonah : 3/26/2020 11:17 am : link
In comment 14850197 bc4life said:
Quote:
saw a roast lamb recipe with anchovies - anyone ever done that?


Now Mike and Maryland once made me and the missus a roast lamb with anchovy paste, olives, and served with artichokes. Maybe I was drunk, but it was amazing. I’ll see if I can get him to post it.
As mentioned before, White Pepper  
RomanWH : 3/26/2020 11:25 am : link
Another underrated but easily found ingredient that I use is Old Bay seasoning. You'd be surprised how much a light dusting can enhance a myriad of dishes... from burgers to ramen to fried rice... Give it a try.
RE: Truffle Zest  
adamg : 3/26/2020 12:11 pm : link
In comment 14849623 montanagiant said:
Quote:
Worth every penny of the $14 it costs, last a long time because a little goes a long way. Much more flavor than Truffle Oil

never heard of this one. Is it made with real truffles? I can't stand the artificial truffle flavor used in most oils.
RE: RE: Truffle Zest  
gidiefor : Mod : 3/26/2020 12:15 pm : link
In comment 14850355 adamg said:
Quote:
In comment 14849623 montanagiant said:


Quote:


Worth every penny of the $14 it costs, last a long time because a little goes a long way. Much more flavor than Truffle Oil



never heard of this one. Is it made with real truffles? I can't stand the artificial truffle flavor used in most oils.


adam -- this is what the ingredient list is according to the company that makes it:
natural flavor, carob powder, salt, black summer truffle, flavors
RE: RE: Some really great secrets here, keep it up!  
adamg : 3/26/2020 12:25 pm : link
In comment 14849783 montanagiant said:
Quote:
In comment 14849777 Kev in Cali said:


Quote:


Really like the anchovy idea...and as one who doesn't like anchovies by themselves; I think I'd hold off on the salt, and add some of these to seafood dishes for unique taste.


Anchovy paste is a great for adding umami to a dish. I add it when I make Hamburgers and it rocks it


Awesome call! I'm stealing this.
RE: RE: RE: Truffle Zest  
adamg : 3/26/2020 12:29 pm : link
In comment 14850360 gidiefor said:
Quote:
In comment 14850355 adamg said:


Quote:


In comment 14849623 montanagiant said:


Quote:


Worth every penny of the $14 it costs, last a long time because a little goes a long way. Much more flavor than Truffle Oil



never heard of this one. Is it made with real truffles? I can't stand the artificial truffle flavor used in most oils.



adam -- this is what the ingredient list is according to the company that makes it:
natural flavor, carob powder, salt, black summer truffle, flavors


Thanks gidie. Hmm... flavor is probably artificial. It might be a better bet than the oil though.
Re Worcestershire sauce with meat.  
BlueLou'sBack : 3/27/2020 12:34 am : link
I make burgers with, per # of 90% burger meat (low fat), 3 tblsp Worcestershire (Lea and Perrins), 3 tblsp barbecue sauce (cheap ones like Kraft's hickory smoke is fine) and 1 rounded tsp Chinese 5 spice blend mixed thoroughly into the beef before cooking. Fresh ground black or multicolored pepper too, to taste.

Makes a great flavorful burger and helps the meat stay moist even when overcooked - which I often flub with burgers.

Something I picked up on the Gulf Coast  
Greg from LI : 3/27/2020 1:23 am : link
Instead of Worcestershire sauce, I use a few splashes of Dale's Steak Seasoning in my burgers.
RE: RE: RE: RE: Truffle Zest  
montanagiant : 3/27/2020 2:04 am : link
In comment 14850373 adamg said:
Quote:
In comment 14850360 gidiefor said:


Quote:


In comment 14850355 adamg said:


Quote:


In comment 14849623 montanagiant said:


Quote:


Worth every penny of the $14 it costs, last a long time because a little goes a long way. Much more flavor than Truffle Oil



never heard of this one. Is it made with real truffles? I can't stand the artificial truffle flavor used in most oils.



adam -- this is what the ingredient list is according to the company that makes it:
natural flavor, carob powder, salt, black summer truffle, flavors



Thanks gidie. Hmm... flavor is probably artificial. It might be a better bet than the oil though.

No, it's real black truffle ground up. Just a couple of dashes is all you need...So damn good
Thanks montana  
adamg : 3/27/2020 11:51 am : link
That's sounds awesome. I'm adding that to the cart.
RE: Thanks montana  
montanagiant : 3/27/2020 1:08 pm : link
In comment 14851328 adamg said:
Quote:
That's sounds awesome. I'm adding that to the cart.

Let me know what you think when you get it
RE: RE: Thanks montana  
gidiefor : Mod : 3/27/2020 1:09 pm : link
In comment 14851421 montanagiant said:
Quote:
In comment 14851328 adamg said:


Quote:


That's sounds awesome. I'm adding that to the cart.


Let me know what you think when you get it


mine arrived today -- have to try it out tonite on some taters
Guinness  
djm : 3/27/2020 1:12 pm : link
it makes food (Chili) better, it's essential for bloody mary mix and it makes my brain better.
I can add one actually  
adamg : 3/27/2020 3:43 pm : link
For Bolognese I highly recommend using red instead of white wine. Adds a lot of richness to the sauce. Also pancetta makes everything better.
what would marjorum  
bc4life : 3/27/2020 6:04 pm : link
be used for?
some guiness  
bc4life : 3/27/2020 6:07 pm : link
really helps lamb stew
adamg  
bc4life : 3/27/2020 6:08 pm : link
treid a mac & cheese recipe that used pancetta - really good (Think it was Bobby Flay's)
did not see Paul Prudhomme's  
bc4life : 3/27/2020 6:10 pm : link
Seafood Magic mentioned
RE: what would marjorum  
montanagiant : 3/27/2020 6:56 pm : link
In comment 14851829 bc4life said:
Quote:
be used for?

I use it on Veggies and Fish at times
A great burger  
Bill in UT : 3/27/2020 8:15 pm : link
doesn't need anything but salt and pepper. If you need to add anything else, make a meatloaf.
RE: RE: what would marjorum  
adamg : 3/28/2020 7:24 am : link
In comment 14851866 montanagiant said:
Quote:
In comment 14851829 bc4life said:


Quote:


be used for?


I use it on Veggies and Fish at times


I use it a lot. It's kind of like a more mild oregano.
ok  
bc4life : 3/28/2020 8:33 am : link
thanks
I tried the truffle zest last night on mashed potatoes  
gidiefor : Mod : 3/28/2020 9:47 am : link
it's definitely a keeper. You do have to go easy on it. It has a deep real truffle taste
RE: I tried the truffle zest last night on mashed potatoes  
montanagiant : 3/28/2020 11:56 am : link
In comment 14852109 gidiefor said:
Quote:
it's definitely a keeper. You do have to go easy on it. It has a deep real truffle taste
It goes a long way without a doubt
RE: I can add one actually  
djm : 4/1/2020 8:13 pm : link
In comment 14851643 adamg said:
Quote:
For Bolognese I highly recommend using red instead of white wine. Adds a lot of richness to the sauce. Also pancetta makes everything better.


Seconded
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