6 Pantry Ingredients to Make Your Home-Cooked Meals Less Meh
Take your pantry to flavor town.By Jonah Reider
Remember way back in March, when fear of widespread shortages led to epic Costo lines and the hottest accessory was a 50 pound bag of rice? The food system has not completely broken down, but you probably stocked up on enough beans and pasta and dried grains to make a prepper proud—and now that you're cooking all or most of your meals for yourself, you're getting bored. Frequent shopping trips and piles of fresh produce aren't on the menu. And you can only handle so many bowls of cacio é pepe. Salvation lies in everyone's favorite fifth taste sensation: umami.
Throughout years of hosting a supper club out of my home, I’ve come to rely on a handful of non-perishable sources of savory base notes, things that add a welcome hit of umami to practically any recipe more complicated than a PB&J. Whether you’re an enterprising cook or not, these essentials are guaranteed to invigorate anything you make, including your fallback dishes. And, okay, yes: They’ll spiff up delivery too.
Think of it as ketchup’s spicy and extremely sophisticated cousin: a uniquely sweet, spicy, and funky fermented Korean hot pepper paste. You may know it best as the star of bibimbap sauce, but it’s perfect on its own as a dip for chicken wings, fried eggs, or crispy potatoes—and it’s equally good swirled into a marinade. Try it alongside your next roast chicken, or, acceptable in these times, mixed into a dip with some ketchup for roasted potato wedges or delivery chicken tenders.
You can find a pretty good tub of gochujang in many stores for about $10, but my favorite comes from Kisoondo, a tenth-generation family operation using only traditional ingredients and techniques.
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