4 Ingredients That Can Transform Any Bland Dish
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 the following dish.
Sambal Oelek–Roasted Cashews
1. Toss 2 cups nuts with 2 tablespoons each sambal oelek and pure maple syrup and a tablespoon of olive oil.
2. Roast at 325°F until fragrant, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. 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.
Cold Rainbow Noodles with Spicy Sambal Cashews
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 flavor. It'll bring a deep smoldering to veggies (hard to achieve in plant-based dishes) and salads (like the vibrant creation below). It can even amplify the natural sweetness of desserts.
Some other things that taste great with a pinch of smoked salt:
- Spice rubs
- Scrambled and fried eggs
- Caesar, caprese, and citrus salads
- Caramelized roasted carrots
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Chocolate bark
Savory Melon Salad with Smoked Salt
Come summer, you can't go wrong with a classic melon and feta salad. But adding an unexpected hint of smoke is where the real magic happens. You'll never go back, trust. (Here are five more genius ways to totally overhaul your salad game.)
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 flavors. (Instead of buying a jar, you can even try pickling your own fruits and veggies pretty easily.)
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.
Loaded Yogurt Dip with Pickle Juice and Spicy Green Herb Sauce
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 flavor on ice cream, yogurt, and cakes, plus all the savory 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. (More incentive to add it to everything: You score all these health benefits of pomegranates, too.)