Cooking is an art, and the ingredients are the building blocks of that art. Every kitchen is different, but having a few basic ingredients in stock is one of the best ways to help you cook more of your own food more often. Eggs, milk and dairy products, fats and oils, fruits, cereals, nuts and bakery products, herbs and spices, meat, sausages and fish, others, pasta, rice and vegetables are some of the most common cooking ingredients. Salt is an essential ingredient in any kitchen.
I prefer to use kosher salt for everything as it tastes better, is easier to control, and doesn't have the chemical flavor you get from iodized material.
Chicken, beef, fish and vegetable broths are an easy base for soups and a great way to add more flavor when used in place of water. It's usually best to do it at home, but having a box or can in the pantry is great to have in a hurry. Fish sauce is a hot sauce made from salted and fermented anchovies.
It's a key ingredient in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine, but it's also useful for adding a secret touch of umami to savory soups or even pasta sauces. Soy sauce is irreplaceable in Chinese and Japanese dishes, but it's also a great way to add salt and complexity to marinades and sauces. If you have a gluten allergy, try replacing it with Tamari. Butter is the soul of the professional chef.
For toast, emulsifying sauces or baked goods, butter is essential. I like to use it without salt because it gives you more control over the condiments, but any butter is better than no butter. Savory ingredients like these are a great way to add tons of flavor and savory complexity to sauces, pasta, and salads. Having a kitchen equipped with the basics makes it easier to prepare a wide variety of dishes and also makes you more likely to cook your own food.
When it comes to cooking at home, a well-stocked kitchen is half the battle. The Codex classifies food ingredients according to the functions they perform in food products. Taste, texture, freshness and appearance are some of the main contributions that ingredients and food additives make to the enjoyment of food. Below is a list of some common classifications of food ingredients and their uses:
- Milk & Dairy Products
- Fats & Oils
- Cereals & Nuts
- Bakery Products
- Herbs & Spices
- Meat & Sausages
- Pasta & Rice