I am fully on board with the stocking of pantry staples, though rarely am I great at practicing this. Things I am always out of are as follows: black beans and exactly when I need them, white rice because carbo-loading, peanut butter because I let the jar expire… always. The things I get to the bottom of the jar of but never ever forget to get at the grocery store are what I consider a short list of precious items that I could not live without. Among them is good dijon mustard. I actually love mustard so much that I’m considering starting a mustard collection. Not only do I make my own grainy mustard, but I can indeed tell brands by taste.
If I were to be on a desert island and they allowed me three things, I’d say give me ten, and I’d bring all the below. Or I’d choose Chili Garlic Sauce, Dijon Mustard, and flaky Kosher Salt. Can you tell I’ve been re-watching Lost? So without further ado, here is my list of must have pantry items that I couldn’t live without under any circumstance.
This is my number one most used ingredient. Any Asian dish I make always calls for extra of this incredible Chili Garlic Sauce. It takes everything up a notch. Cannot live without it. I’m always annoyed because before even tasting anything, my husband puts a huge spoonful of this on his dinner. But I get it. It’s that good.
I have been told that Sherry Vinegar is better, but they’re lying. Red wine vinegar is my go to in every salad dressing, marinade, and chimichurri. Yes, apple cider vinegar is having a moment right now, but red wine vinegar will always be my main squeeze.
For those of you who know me, I put mustard in everything. Why is it so good!? And Grey Poupon is my absolute favorite. I’ve tried telling my husband that I can tell the difference between generic and original Grey Poupon, but he doesn’t believe me. I have yet to test this. Mustard is so good in salad dressings that if I don’t put it in there I feel like something important is missing. Nothing is complete without dijon mustard.
Using kosher salt has changed the way I cook because it adds actual TEXTURE to what you cook and it tastes like the sea. If you’re not on board with this, get yourself some! I have heard Diamond brand is superior, but I like to stick to Mortons because… ahem… it’s saltier… No shame in the salt game! Sam caught me thoroughly salting chicken the other day, and he said that he knew my secret. Too much salt. I like to think it’s more the right amount of salt. Nothing at my table will ever call for a salt shaker.
I know, I know, it’s just a spice, but really I put it in everything I make. I love that it goes with both Mexican and Indian flavors, which are my two most common ethnic foods I like to make.
Sesame oil is the thing that makes fried rice taste so toasty and delicious. It’s one of my favorite secret ingredients that I throw into Asian-inspired recipes. It’s also perfect for adding some flavor to stir frys.
You don’t have to make your own, but next time you go to the bakery, buy two loaves, slice one, put it in the freezer and whenever you need breadcrumbs, just toast it in a toaster oven, chop it up, and food process it. It’s one of the best ways to make really good bread crumbs, which is very important.
If you don’t buy this green salsa, you’re missing out. It’s perfect for everything, and it’s super cheap. I even use it to make last minute chilaquiles in the skillet topped with an egg or as an enchilada sauce.
No matter which type of miso paste you use, it’s perfect for making ramen taste really good or adding to dressings. Basically anything that needs umami! Try my Miso Grilled chicken or Miso Ramen to give it a go. I use red miso, but white will work too. Each has a little flavor variation. Give it a try.
Tahini is to peanut butter as sesame seeds are to peanuts. So it’s a sesame butter. It makes for a great addition to salad dressings, glazes, sauces, or even baked goods. I always use it in on roasted carrots.
So what about you? What’s on your desert island list of items you can’t live without?