I’ve done my fair share of investigating the world of spices. I’ve found that spices can be QUITE expensive, and sometimes it’s unclear how to use them. I’ve compiled a list of “essential” spices/sauces that I use in almost EVERY dish. Buying spices in bulk, or in bagged form, can help offset the cost overall–you’ll use them A LOT, and they last a long time. Check your cabinet and see if you have these “essentials.”
Essentials for Your Cabinet
- Salt–duh, but not all salt is created equal. I like to have a big container of iodized salt for everyday use, and also a sea salt grinder for fancier things, like steak.
- Pepper–obviously, but what kind of pepper is best? It comes in many forms, black, white, pink, and even red peppercorns. Black pepper is fine with me. I use the big black pepper grinders you can buy at any store. These are cool because you can adjust how coarse you want your pepper to be ground. I use finer coarse for regular recipes, and rougher coarse for steaks and other meats.
- Sugar–I store my sugar in the freezer. Keep it tightly sealed to prevent moisture from getting in!
- Cumin–ever by those little taco packets for your Taco Tuesdays? Did you know those are PACKED with sodium, and you can make your own. Cumin is a nice, warm, earthy spice that can be used in Latin and Asian dishes. Go get you some!
- Coriander–Cumin and Coriander go together like salt and pepper. If you can spring for it, I highly recommend.
- Chili Powder–another essential that can be used for anything from taco seasoning to making actual chilis or soups.
- Garlic Powder/Garlic Salt–I use this in almost every recipe, when I don’t feel like mincing fresh garlic, because I’m lazy.
- Onion Powder–same as above.
- Dried Italian Herbs–you can buy a bottle of mixed herbs, or get individual packs of dried herbs such as thyme, oregano, parsley, and basil.
- Paprika- I don’t use it often, but it’s worth having some on hand
- Cayenne pepper or dried chili flakes–I like my food super spicy, if you don’t no need to have this on hand
What About Sauces?
- Soy Sauce–get the biggest bottle possible. I use it in most of my Asian-inspired dishes.
- Vinegar–white, apple cider, champagne, or rice wine vinegar should be a staple in your cabinet–I love to quick-pickle things like red onion, and vinegar is essential.
- Oil–You need to have one bottle of olive oil and one bottle of canola oil. Trust me.
- Sriracha–Not only does sriracha add a little heat, but it has savory garlicky notes that can enhance the flavor of your dishes.
- Fish sauce–stay with me. I make a lot of curry and Thai-inspired dishes. Fish sauce smells funky, but it adds that “umami” flavor to dishes. 10/10 would recommend.
- Sweet Chili Sauce–this sauce is versatile. You can use it as a dip for wontons/spring rolls, or to marinade things like chicken breasts or wings.