Chilli bacon jam, homemade mustard, preserved marrow; ShortList’s Howard Calvert upgrades your meals with the ultimate guide to the new wave of condiments
Harry Callahan had a point when he said, “Nobody – I mean nobody – puts ketchup on a hot dog” in Dirty Harry. There are rules to condiment use. An unspoken etiquette. But now, things have evolved. There’s a massive, saliva-puddling array of sauces, spreads and condiments out there. Street food impresarios are concocting their own secret batches, Heston Blumenthal is resurrecting ketchups from the 1800s, and DIY foodies are dusting down old jars and encouraging you to create your own sauces at home.
So – with a ham sandwich in hand, just where do you start? We’ve tried the best on offer and reveal our favourite choices. Spreading knives at the ready…
10 to try
1. Eat17 Chilli Bacon Jam
Onion jam plus smoky bacon. From the team at Eat 17 in north-east London, this is like a sweet, smoky, bacon marmalade. The chilli version adds welcome heat.
Use it on: Stilton – it’s a revelation.
2. East London Steak Co Preserved Bone Marrow
Struggle with non-Bisto gravy? This preserved bone marrow can be added to your mix for a boat-emptying lift.
Use it on: Toast. Trust us.
3. Mr Vikki’s Banana Habanero
A triple Great Taste Award gold medal-winner. Habanero chillies, ginger and banana. Sounds hellish, tastes incredible.
Use it on: Poppadoms.
4. Rib Man’s Christ On A Bike
Created by Mark Gevaux, AKA street-food trader The Rib Man, and funded by Kickstarter, this hot sauce is rapidly gaining a cult following (fans include Hawksmoor’s Richard Turner).
Use it on: Roast beef as a braise, or to liven up a burrito.
5. Gran Luchito Chilli Honey
With Mexican Oaxacan smoked chillies, the range includes a paste, but the honey, brushed on gammon, is a game-changer.
Use it on: Porridge for a wake-up kick.
6. East India Co’s Lapsang Souchong Mustard
The King Of Mustards? We think so. This mild, smoky mustard, infused with lapsang souchong tea, lifts a variety of meals.
Use it on: Transforms a fish pie.
7. Carluccio’s Nduja Spread
Nduja – a spicy pork paste from Calabria, Italy – is growing in popularity in the UK, especially on pizza. Now, jars are appearing – spread it on meats and breads.
Use it on: Crostini, or in pasta.
8. The Original Australian Hickory Maple Liquid Smoke
Yes, it’s cheating. But, as the barbecues have been packed away for the year, now’s the time to pull out this secret weapon. A few drops go a long way: spray it into meat marinades to add a hint of hickory to your roast.
Use it on: Chilli, to give it that ‘slow-cooked on your barbecue’ flavour.
9. Todd’s Concoctions Cola-Leather BBQ Sauce
Not for those with a sensitive palate. This bold sauce comes from a strong-flavoured range from Todd’s. The taste of Cola comes through – sweet, sticky and unbelievably moreish.
Use it on: Barbecued chicken – as a marinade or dip.
10. Tsuru’s Eat The Bits Chilli Oil
After it gained a cult following at London’s Tsuru, the folk at the sushi restaurant realised they’d be on to a winner by selling their chilli oil. The resulting d’Arbol chilli flakes, Japanese shichimi togarashi and rapeseed oil mix is hard not to eat by the spoonful.
Use it on: Stir fries, or as a spicy alternative to pesto.