We are guilty people. We send artisanal sauces tied up in twine for holiday gifts, we swipe them furtively off the Food52 giveaway table, and we splurge on them at Whole Foods because they promise to rescue an average dinner from blandness. But how often does dinner daydreaming actually start with the contents of a jar (often a jar you've never tasted, for that matter)? They all too often end up getting pushed to the back of the shelf and forgotten, then given away in the annual clean-out.
No more. We've tasted and vetted and generally fallen head over heels for certain sauces that we stock in the Food52 Shop—and we want you to know why we love them so much! Here are 38 marinades and dipping sauces we love—we loeurve, we loave, we luff with two f's—and how you can use them to transform an ordinary dinner.
Swirl just a spoonful of these complex sauces into your marinade, your aromatics, or right into a finished dish at the end of cooking for an impactful flavor that your guests will be asking about.
Vegan Mole Poblano & Mole Pipian: Mole Poblano is a complex mole that gets it chocolatey flavor from cocoa nuts, whereas Mole Pipian (above, left) is earthy from pepitas, sesame seeds, and peanuts. Brown your favorite meat or vegetables, then add either of these and stew for rich Mexican flavor.
Sweet & Savory Finishing Sauces: Earthy Spicy Tingly sauce is a complex mix of Sichuan peppercorns and chilies, the Spicy Tangy Funky sauce has Southeast Asian-inspired notes including sambal and tamarind, and the Sweet Savory Spicy sauce is laced with Chinese fermented black beans.
All are ideal for basting on skewers or roasts, swirling into sauce for noodles, or adding to a stir-fry for a saucy finish.