Condiments are also known as table sauces. They are spices, sauces, or preparations such as onions that are added to foods to enhance the flavor or impart a specific flavor. In some cultures, condiments are also used to complement the dish. The term condiment originally described pickled or preserved foods, however, its meaning has changed over time. It came from the Latin word “condimentum” which means “spice, seasoning, sauce” and from the Latin word “condere” which means “preserve, pickle, and season”.
The definition of condiment varies. Some define them as spices and herbs such as salt and pepper. While some define them as prepared food compounds added to foods after cooking such as ketchup, mustard, or mint sauce. In some European countries, cheese is also considered a condiment.
Most of us use certain condiments on a daily basis or every time we cook at home. Some of these condiments are salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise. But did you know that there are a lot more other condiments out there aside from the ones we usually use? If you’re curious about these condiments, we are going to give you the ultimate guide to types of condiments.
History of Condiments
Before we tackle the different types of condiments, let us first learn about their history. Did you know that condiments were known in Ancient Rome, Ancient China, Ancient India, and Ancient Greece? In fact, there’s a myth stating that before food preservation techniques became well-known, condiments and pungent spices were used to make foods more appetizing. However, this claim is not supported by any historical record or evidence.
In Ancient Rome, they made the condiments liquamen and garum. These were made by crushing the innards of various fish and fermented it in salt, resulting in a liquid containing glutamic acid which was used to enhance the flavor of food. This lead to a flourishing condiment industry. There’s also a cookbook called Apicius which is based on 4th and 5th-century cuisine and it has a section that is based solely on condiments.
Different Types of Condiments
Condiments can be divided into different categories and here are some of them:
Salt and Salt Substitutes
This category of condiments includes table salt, iodized salt, fluoridated iodized salt, and dendritic salt. Aside from that, it also includes salt substitutes such as those seasonings with a reduced sodium content that are intended to be used on food in place of salt.
Herbs, Spices, and Seasonings
This category includes condiments that are intended to enhance the aroma and taste of foods. Herbs are usually derived from botanical sources. Some examples are basil, oregano, thyme, cumin, and caraway seeds. Spices, on the other hand, are usually blended in powder or paste form such as chili paste, chili seasoning, and curry paste. And seasonings include meat tenderizers, sesame seeds, onion salt, and garlic salt to name a few.
This is a condiment sauce that is prepared from ground and often defatted mustard seed, mixed into a slurry with water, oil, salt, vinegar, and other spices. Some examples of mustard are hot mustard and Dijon mustard.
Sauces and Like Products
Yeast and Like Products
This category includes baker’s yeast and leavening agents that are used in making baked goods and as well as in making alcoholic beverages.
This category includes products that are derived from soybeans and other ingredients. They are obtained by fermentation of soybeans. One popular example is soy sauce.
This category includes those cooked and pickled products which are usually made of chopped vegetables, fruits, or herbs. They are usually used as condiments to enhance a staple. Some examples are chutneys and pickled cucumber jam.
This type of condiments refers to any substance not normally consumed as a food by itself or used as a typical ingredient of the food, whether or not it has nutritive value. They are intentionally added to food for a technological purpose in the manufacturing process. This type of condiment is used mainly to preserve the nutritional quality of the food.
The Most Commonly Used Condiments in the United States
Here are some of the most commonly used condiments in the United States.
- Mayonnaise: This is a creamy and eggy sauce that is usually added to sandwiches, salads, and dip.
- Ketchup: This is a kind of tomato sauce that is added to hot dogs, fries, sandwiches and more. There are also different types of ketchup like tomato, walnut, and mushroom.
- Soy Sauce: This is another most used condiment in the United States. Soy sauce is usually made from fermented soybeans, wheat, salt, and water. It is known to be popular with Asian dishes like fried rice and sushi. Since there are many Asian immigrants in the United States, it’s no wonder it is one of the most commonly used condiments.
- Salsa: Salsas are also commonly used in the United States. When you look at your friend’s fridge, there’s a high chance that you will find a few kinds of salsa in there. It can be chunky and bold or pureed. Most salsas also start with a tomato base. There are also simple ones that consist of parsley, tomato, onion, and jalapenos. While some salsas can include fruits such as mango and pineapple.
- Mustard: In the United States, ketchup would not be nearly as loved if it wasn’t coexisting with mustard. There are many kinds of mustards and they are commonly used as a topping for ballpark franks and backyard burgers. Some even use it as a marinade for pork and beef roasts.
- Hot Sauce: Hot sauces are also popular in the United States. There are also different kinds of hot sauces such as Sriracha, Tabasco, and other brands. Some of them may have a sweeter aftertaste and less of a kick while some are meant to knock your socks off.
Popular Condiments in Other Countries
Aside from the most common condiments used in the United States, there are a lot more other condiments that are popular in other countries and here are some of them.
- Vegemite: This is a thick, black Australian food spread that is made from leftover brewers’ yeast extract added with different vegetable and spice. It is used as a spread on sandwiches, toast, crumpets, and cracker biscuits.
- Achaar: These are picked foods that are native to the Indian subcontinent. They are made from different fruits and vegetables preserved in vinegar, brine, or edible oils.
- Chutney: This is a sauce used with the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent. It can be in forms of a spicy coconut dip, tomato relish, cucumber, or mint dip.
- Kasundi: This is the Asian or Bengali version of the mustard sauce. It has a pungent paste of fermented mustard seeds and spices. It may also include dried mangoes, olives, and dried Indian plum.
- Raita: This condiment is made with raw or cooked vegetables with fried droplets of batter that is made from besan.
- Albert Sauce: This sauce is used particularly in British cuisine to enhance the flavor of braised beef. It is made of horseradish in a clear bouillon, thickened with egg yolks and cream, and spiced with mustard diluted in vinegar.
- Cheddar Sauce: This is a traditional sauce used in English cooking. It is based upon white sauce and cheddar cheese.
- Cumberland Sauce: This is a fruit sauce that is used on non-white meats like ham and lamb.
- Piccalilli: This is an English interpretation of South Asian pickles. It is a relish of chopped pickled vegetables and spices.
- Worcestershire Sauce: This is a fermented liquid condiment that is created in Worcestershire, England in the 19th century.
- Maple Syrup: This syrup is made from the xylem sap of sugar maple, red maple, and black maple trees. It is a popular condiment used on pancakes.
- Ají: This is a spicy sauce that usually contains cilantro, tomatoes, ají pepper, onions, and water.
- Pebre: This is a Chilean condiment that is made of chopped onion, olive oil, garlic, and ground spicy ají peppers.
- Hoisin Sauce: This is a popular Chinese condiment used as a glaze for meat, an addition to stir-fries, and as a dipping sauce.
- Shacha Paste: This Chinese condiment is used in Fuijan, Teochew, and Taiwanese cuisines. It is made from dried shrimp, soybean oil, garlic, and shallots.
- Sichuan Pepper: This is a commonly used spice in Chinese cuisine.
- Tauco: This is a paste condiment that is made from fermented yellow soybeans in Chinese and Malaysian cuisines.
- Lufu: This is a fermented bean curd that is used as a condiment or sauce for Yunnan-style barbecue.
- Ajika: This is a hot and spicy flavored dip that is used to flavor food.
- Tkemali: This Georgian sauce is made of Alucha and other varieties of plum. It is used from fried or grilled meat, poultry, and potato dishes. \
- Zigeuner Sauce: This is a garnish or sauce that is consisting of chopped ham, mushrooms, and truffles combined with tomato sauce.
- Curry Ketchup: This is a spiced variant on ketchup that is commonly used in Germany, Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
- Skordalia: This is a thick puree in Greek cuisine that is made by combing crushed garlic with a bulky base like a puree of potatoes or almonds. It is usually served with batter-fried fish or sometimes used as a dip.
- Tzatziki: This is a dip or sauce that is made of salted strained yogurt mixed with garlic, cucumber, salt, and olive oil.
- Ktipiti: This is a Greek cheese spread that is commonly eaten as a part of a mezze platter.
- Chammanthi Podi: This is a dry condiment and chutney in India. It is made of shredded coconut and dry-roasted spices. It is ground up and stored to be used later.
- Indian Relish: This is a spicy relish used as a condiment or side dish. It is made of different vegetables and fruits such as bell peppers, sweet onions, garlic, tomatoes, mustard, and sugar.
- Pachadi: This is a traditional South Indian fresh pickle that is served as a side dish.
- Agliata: This is a garlic sauce and condiment in Italian cuisine that is used to flavor grilled and boiled meats.
- Olive Oil: This oil is obtained from olives which is a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. It is used in cooking whether for frying or as a salad dressing.
- Balsamic Vinegar of Modena: This is a condiment from Italy that is made from different recipes. It is usually added to soups, stews, and sauces to enrich their flavors.
- Miso: This is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji. It results in a thick paste which is used for sauces and spreads, and as well as for meats or mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup.
- Shichimi: This is a common Japanese spice mixture that contains seven ingredients. It is a kind of pepper added to soups, noodles, and sometimes on rice products like rice cakes and roasted rice crackers for seasoning.
- Wasabi: This is a hot paste used as a condiment for sushi and other Japanese foods.
- Tare: This is a dipping sauce in Japan used in grilling as well as with gyoza, sushi, and nabemono.
- Cheong: This is a kind of syrup in Korea that is used as a tea base. It can also be used as a honey or sugar condiment substitute in cooking.
- Kimchi: This is a staple in Korean cuisine. It is a side dish of salted and fermented vegetables that are made with different seasonings like garlic, ginger, and scallions.
- Perilla Oil: This is a vegetable oil used as a flavor enhancer, condiment, and cooking oil in Korean cuisine.
- Atchara: This is a pickle made from grated unripe papaya. It is usually served as a side dish for fried or grilled foods like pork barbecue.
- Bagoong: This is a condiment in the Philippines that is made from fermented fish.
- Fish Sauce: This is a liquid condiment that is made from fish or krill that have been coated in salt and fermented for up to two years. It is used as a seasoning in East Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine.
- Palapa: This is a sweet and spicy Filipino condiment that is made from chopped scallions, pounded ginger, turmeric, and labuyo or chili.
- Cenovis: This is a dark brown food paste that is used to flavor soups, sausages, and salads.
- Nam Chim: This is a dipping sauce in Thailand that is usually a combination of salty, sweet, spicy, and sour. It is a condiment used for grilled or steamed foods.
- Nam Phrik: This is a type of chili sauce in Thailand. It is used as a condiment or a dip for bland foods such as vegetables, fish, poultry, and meats.
Condiments are indeed very useful in enhancing the flavors of different dishes. Aside from that, some of the condiments we’ve mentioned are also part of a certain country’s history and culture and some of their foods cannot be eaten without them. We hope this article helped you in knowing the different types of condiments and as well as those popular condiments in different parts of the world. We’ve only mentioned here the popular condiments in different countries, but you can also check out our list of 10 Unusual Condiments You May Not Have Heard Of to know more.