While ketchup and mustard have been the go-to condiments for years, Americans are now turning toward those of other countries to pump up plates of food. “Condiments and sauces are the fashion accessory of the culinary world,” says Kimberly Egan, CEO of the Center for Culinary Development. ‘They are a necessary part of the ensemble as diners seek enhanced food experiences and more global flavors.” Here are six saucy players that are seeing some action on restaurant menus.
Gastrique: A classic French reduction of sugar and vinegar, gastrique is a favorite of chefs in search of that time-honored marriage of sweet and sour. As of late, gastriques have been customized and fine-tuned, used both in cooking and cocktails.
Romesco: A traditional Spanish red pepper and ground almond sauce, romesco’s deep flavor hails from the Catalan region. In the U.S., it's appearing in dips, BBQ sauces, marinades and more.
Poutine: This side of French fries smothered with brown gravy and melted cheese—a Canadian favorite—has moved out of the lunch truck window and onto restaurant menus. A fork is required to enjoy this messy, saucy dish.
Umami in a Bottle: Umami was once recognized only as a component in ketchup or soy sauce. More recently, it has been heralded as “the fifth taste” and is coming to the forefront as its own savory condiment.
Sriracha: A fiery Southeast Asian sauce, Sriracha was once used by restaurant cooks to doctor the staff meal. With Gen Y interest in global cuisines and extreme flavors, Sriracha’s fire is quickly catching on.
Aioli: A French-inspired condiment, this garlicky mayonnaise has infiltrated the American food scene from fine dining to the golden arches. The sauce’s versatility is perhaps its best selling point; it adapts well to the addition of other flavors, such as basil, chipotle, parsley, harissa and even avocado.