I hope you’ve had a chance to digest Essential Food Pantry - Part 1, because we’re ready to move on to Part 2. Today I’ll discuss my condiments, sauces, and fridge items. I was just thinking about something funny while writing that last sentence: Condiments and sauces, once open, become fridge items, too 🙂
Let me start with classic fridge items. We mentioned butter as a fridge item in Part 1, but I keep it in a covered dish on my counter. I think that’s a European thing I grew up with.
I wrote an article about eggs a couple weeks ago, but in summary: Try to find a road stand or farmers market that sells eggs. Somehow they just taste better and it makes me think that the birds are having a better life as well.
I don’t really stock milk, but I have half and half (for my coffee) and heavy cream (for my cooking). I also like to stock sour cream (have you tried my shrimp tacos yet?
Now It Gets Really Complicated: Cheeses
What kind of cheeses would you stock? As many as fit in the fridge would be my answer. But then again, I grew up in Switzerland. Jokes aside, I like to have a nice medium-sharp cheddar handy that can be used pretty universally and melts pretty good as well. And then I have to have a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano - not Parmesan, which is a generic term for a similar made cheese outside of Italy - but the real thing, and the real thing only. Yes, it’s more expensive than the copycats, but because of the intense, nutty, concentrated umami flavors, you’ll also need less. Sometimes there are shortcuts in life, but in this case there isn't. It’s called Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Cans And Jars
Pretty straightforward in my essential pantry: Tomato sauce, tomato paste (get the tube, not the can), peeled plum tomatoes in a can (preferably San Marzano), and chicken and mushroom stocks. They say box-packed stock tastes better than canned, but I use neither. I either make my own or use cubes from Knorr. And of course some cans of tuna and a jar of anchovies, plus all your favorite canned beans.
Grains And Starches
Another easy one for me: Plain breadcrumbs, long-grain white rice, and dry pasta (one long for light sauces and one short and chunky for ragù-style sauces).
Condiments And Sauces
Now it gets tough again, but let’s start with what we can agree on: Ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard (I prefer Dijon), and soy sauce. Here’s what else I absolutely need: Fish sauce, hot sauce, and miso paste - when used sparingly, any of these three ingredients can really add flavor depth to your dishes.
This is part 2 of a 3-part series. In my last installment, I’ll talk about freezer items and what produce I like to have handy and how to store it.
I’m really curious about your favorite pantry items. I’m sure you have your own little “secrets” that I would like know, so please share them! 🙂
Grains and Starches
Long-grain white rice
Dry pasta (one long, one short)
Condiments and Sauces
Cans and Jars
Peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes
What else do you keep in your pantry? Let us know in the comments below!