10 Secret Weapon Ingredients from Star Chefs
Much like super spies (or super villains), chefs also have secret weapons—theirs just happen to be edible. Here, chefs share their favorite secret-weapon ingredients.
“I always call it the pork fat of pastry,” says pastry chef Tiffany MacIsaac of Buttercream Bakeshop. “When a chef doesn’t think a dish is good, he’ll put a little pork fat on it. When I don’t think a dessert is good, I’ll add some passion fruit somewhere in the background. I’ll often make a caramel with passion fruit instead of water or cream. It still looks like normal caramel, people don’t always know what’s in it, but it gives it a nice tartness. I’ll add a little to a dish like a savory chef might add a gastrique.”
“It’s sodium, a little sweet and a lot of umami,” says chef Andy Ricker of the mini Pok Pok empire. “You can try it in salad dressings or toss steamed veggies with it. Think of it as a liquid form of anchovy: It’s not great if you have a big fistful, but if you put a little in then—boom!— the flavor of everything else pops. If you make a Caesar salad and you don’t like anchovies, you could throw in some fish sauce.”
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