What condiments lurking your fridge door can liven up your winter meals?

I just had a tuna-rice-veg casserole for breakfast (I'm with SusanW on this - learned years ago that anything can be breakfast). It was nourishing, warm, but just ok on taste. Then I added Sriracha and sesame oil from the fridge door. Ka-boom! Great taste lift, even though the original dish had no inherently Asian flavors.
So, what else is luring in your fridge door or condiment section that you (and I) can use to liven up winter or fridge-clear-out dishes?

  • Posted by: Nancy
  • January 21, 2016


BonnieC. January 13, 2019
Asian "Chile Crisp". Discovered this several months ago (it's been popping up on food websites all over the place) & now can't live without it.
Arun J. September 3, 2018
All of these things are great to have on hand so when it's freezing out, no need for a special trip and they all have the same bright taste as if you had them fresh. Asian grocery stores also seen to have produce which is much more fresh than the tired veggies in grocery stores.

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Tyler February 2, 2016
It seems everyone loves Sriracha, but I'm more of a Cholula girl myself when I'm looking for a little extra pow-pow. Especially on eggy breakfast items. Also, (though perhaps not revolutionary) some leftover capers and minced garlic recently did wonders to liven up some basic store bought pasta sauce on a weekday night.
mrslarkin February 2, 2016
My strange addiction: Huy Fong Chili Garlic Sauce (from the makers of Sriracha rooster sauce). I put it on EVERYTHING. soup, eggs, veg, meat, tacos, burgers, honey. Mix a little into bread and butter pickles - amazing.
MainelyEating February 1, 2016
I have a couple of bottle of Kecap Manis that I'm obsessed with. I believe it's Indonesian. It's like Soy Sauce, Hoisin Sauce and Honey got up to no good and had a baby. So good. I buy it in the UK and bring it back to the US with me. You might be able to find it on Amazon.
Susan W. February 1, 2016
I just looked it up on Amazon. I was reading the questions and answers about the ingredients. A year ago someone answered "it's made from angel tears and puppy kisses". Lol. Can't wait to try it.
Emily L. February 1, 2016
miso and fish sauce (although fish sauce is not in the fridge)!
MMH January 28, 2016
We make pesto and freeze it in ice cube trays. It's such a taste of summer. Last year we stretched it by adding kale. My HS swimmer loves to toss it with pasta & mozzerella pearls before a meet & it makes her feel like she's swimming outside in summer weather.

We also freeze whole stalks of rosemary & thyme which taste like they just came out of the garden even in January.

We buy large hands of ginger, peel them and freeze them. They are then easily grated with a rasp. We also freeze lemon grass stalks.

Oyster sauce & fish sauce are great to have on hand.

Lemons & limes brighten up many dishes.

All of these things are great to have on hand so when it's freezing out, no need for a special trip and they all have the same bright taste as if you had them fresh. Asian grocery stores also seen to have produce which is much more fresh than the tired veggies in grocery stores. Last night we had Chinese broccoli which tasted like it had just been picked.
boymeetsgirlmeetsfood January 28, 2016
We love throwing wholegrain or dijon mustard into winter warmers, it adds so much flavour! Capers, olives and preserved lemon are also great additions to lots of winter stews.
Nancy January 24, 2016
Thanks everyone - lots of good ideas condiments, inside & out of the fridge, including Frank's Ref Hot Sauce (don't you love Auto Incorrect?), and some things new to me.
Kristen W. January 22, 2016
...RED Hot Sauce, not "Ref"! Also, preserved lemons.
Kristen W. January 22, 2016
Various pickled hot peppers, cornichons, pickled red onions/shallots, Frank's Ref Hot Sauce, grainy mustard, oyster sauce, hoisin, does white miso count as a fridge door item if I technically don't keep it in the door? I say yes!
Greenstuff January 21, 2016
Not vinaigrette but vinaigrette--vinegar in French, my iPad didn't know I was tossing around foreign words.
Greenstuff January 21, 2016
Ack! It did it again!
Greenstuff January 21, 2016
I keep a bottle of Huilerie Beaujolais Vinaigrette de Citron, which I first learned about on the Hotline, in my refrigerator, and it's a great addition to beans, lentils, salads, and other dishes. I kept my first bottle on the shelf with other vinegars, but it has so much pulp, I decided it would be better to keep it chilled. It's not simply lemon diffused in white or white wine vinegar, but citrus fermented to be vinegar. Expensive but really good. They also make a quince vinegar, which I may go for when I'm up for a splurge.
pierino January 21, 2016
Not in the fridge but I've been using balsamic jelly more and more now.
QueenSashy January 21, 2016
Cannot agree more. I also like to use saba, grape must reduction.
Smaug January 21, 2016
Salsa Mexicana (usually Pico de Gallo here) works well in a surprising number of situations. Maison Louisianne Creole Mustard (the one with the alligator- accept no substitutes)
HalfPint January 21, 2016
While I don't keep it in the fridge, I find that a splash of vinegar can really liven up a dull dish, especially one that is very rich and creamy.
ChefJune January 21, 2016
Pickles are great! and I always have oyster sauce in the fridge, and a variety of mustards. Also anchovies. Try adding a couple of anchovies to your next ratatouille and watch it come to life. :) The oil left in the jar of premium tuna is also a game-changer.
Exbruxelles January 21, 2016
Capers. Pickled okra and pickled fennel stalks. Preserved lemon. Fish sauce.
Susan W. January 21, 2016
I have the best Thai chili paste in my fridge door. It's so complex and delicious. It's both sweet and spicy and has undertones of dried shrimp that don't taste like shrimp. I found it on Amazon after WoksOfLife recommended it. Took two weeks to get it. I'm taking my empty jar to H-Mart to see if they have it or can get it. I put a little in Merrill's broccoli and lemon soup just this morning with an over easy egg...outstanding. Made a delicious breakfast that I kept wanting more of. Umami does that to me.
Vicki B. January 27, 2016
Can you tell us the brand? I googled WoksOfLife but couldn't find it. Thanks!!!
Susan W. January 27, 2016
It's this one Vickie. I tried to come up with my own version. It's good, but there's something so complex about the real thing.

Susan W. January 27, 2016
Here's WoksOfLife website. It's a good resource. I love their Eggplant With Garlic Sauce and Kung Pao Chicken.

EmilyC January 21, 2016
I bought a few bottles of Chung Jung One gochujang sauce before the holidays, and I'm obsessed. It's spicy without being hot, and so, so flavorful. It enlivens practically anything -- eggs, sandwiches, leftover pasta, mashed potatoes, etc.
Susan W. January 21, 2016
Gochujang is also delicious in hot and sour or miso soup!! Delicious.
Susan W. January 21, 2016
I just looked it up on Amazon. I was speaking of the paste. Yours looks great and I just ordered a bottle. :)
creamtea January 21, 2016
Harissa. Grainy mustard. Moroccan Cured lemons (3 more weeks till mine are done...). Leftover liquid from cured/pickled/canned things (such as said lemons, or otherwise pickle liquid, the leftover oil from Ortiz tuna or from good sundried tomatoes). Canned or jarred piquillo peppers.
Nancy January 21, 2016
What is Ortiz tuna, please?
702551 January 21, 2016
Ortiz is a brand.
creamtea January 21, 2016
Nancy, Ortiz is a brand of Spanish (Catalan) tuna hand-packed in olive oil. It comes in tins and glass jars in various sizes. It is delicious, elegant and addictive. There are several varieties, the premium is called ventresca, there are also aged varieties and some family select versions. I am hording the latter three types waiting for a special day; aged tinned tuna is supposed to be special.
Susan W. January 21, 2016
Ortiz Ventresca tuna belly is my favorite. I eat it straight out of the tin and share with no one.
FoodieLawyerLady January 21, 2016
I recently added two teaspoons of wholegrain mustard to a bolognaise ragu, which was a game-changer for me -- I don't think I'll make it without ever again. I also used leftover gravy made from the previous day's roast chicken, as the base for a sausage, kale and cherry tomato linguine dish; delicious!
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