23 votes

What is a small thing you can add to a regular dish, that makes it all that much tastier?

Personally I find that adding a few drops of almond essence to pancake mix can make all the difference.

40 comments

  1. Akir Link
    MSG. It improves anything you want to be savory. And it is not bad for your health - at least not any worse than salt is. Guajillo peppers are the secret to making good chili. Also great in...

    MSG. It improves anything you want to be savory. And it is not bad for your health - at least not any worse than salt is.

    Guajillo peppers are the secret to making good chili. Also great in barbeque sauce; it's the best ingredient to get that smokyness.

    Not all butter is made the same. Cheap supermarket brands are not creamed enough and don't have much flavor. The flavor and texture you get from more expensive butters make up for the price difference.

    20 votes
  2. [9]
    SleepyGary Link
    Honestly salt is the only thing I can recommend that could go on any dish and make it better (within reason). But there are plenty that work on many dishes Black pepper - freshy ground ads a great...

    Honestly salt is the only thing I can recommend that could go on any dish and make it better (within reason). But there are plenty that work on many dishes

    • Black pepper - freshy ground ads a great aroma and heat to a dish
    • Worchestshire - great umami, malt vinegar, anchovies (salt + fishiness), molasses, onion. Great for almost any meat based dish.
    • Lemon/Lime - great on creamy/buttery dishes to cut through that fat.
    • Paprika - adds smokiness and a tiny amount of heat
    • Cayenne - if you want a mostly flavourless heat
    • Liquid smoke - great to add an aromatic flavourless smoke to a dish
    • Garlic - Great aroma and spice
    • Onion - I personally don't like onions and tend to use powder when possible but damned if it doesn't smell amazing
    • Mustard powder - Adds depth to any creamy/cheesy based dish.
    15 votes
    1. [3]
      ainar-g Link Parent
      People should definitely add more garlic. Yes, it makes your breath smelly, but you can get rid of it by brushing your tongue, teeth, and cheeks. And the taste and spice it adds are amazing.

      People should definitely add more garlic. Yes, it makes your breath smelly, but you can get rid of it by brushing your tongue, teeth, and cheeks. And the taste and spice it adds are amazing.

      6 votes
      1. Glasse Link Parent
        I seriously put garlic in everything its just so good.

        I seriously put garlic in everything its just so good.

        3 votes
      2. NubWizard Link Parent
        Fun fact, brushing won't do much for it. The compounds that give you bad breath after eating garlic is found in your lungs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic_breath?wprov=sfla1 My fiance and I...

        Fun fact, brushing won't do much for it. The compounds that give you bad breath after eating garlic is found in your lungs:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic_breath?wprov=sfla1

        My fiance and I were flabbergasted for awhile because we noticed each other's breath was a sour, acidic like quality. Sure enough, it was garlic that we were putting in everything because it's delicious.

        3 votes
    2. [2]
      cfabbro Link Parent
      Any Fish sauce or Oyster sauce will work too. If you have access to them, Katsuobushi/Bonito flakes are also a great way to inject some umami in to dishes (soup stocks esp.).

      Worchestshire - great umami

      Any Fish sauce or Oyster sauce will work too. If you have access to them, Katsuobushi/Bonito flakes are also a great way to inject some umami in to dishes (soup stocks esp.).

      6 votes
      1. patience_limited Link Parent
        For vegetarians, Marmite, a yeast extract, is usable in place of fish-containing products. For general-purpose seasoning of "meaty" vegetarian dishes and long-cooked stews, porcini mushroom powder.

        For vegetarians, Marmite, a yeast extract, is usable in place of fish-containing products.

        For general-purpose seasoning of "meaty" vegetarian dishes and long-cooked stews, porcini mushroom powder.

        3 votes
    3. [2]
      frickindeal Link Parent
      I can't agree with liquid smoke. It's an abomination to any food it's added to, and I immediately know whether genuine smoke was used, or liquid. There's a local restaurant that had a...

      I can't agree with liquid smoke. It's an abomination to any food it's added to, and I immediately know whether genuine smoke was used, or liquid. There's a local restaurant that had a siracha-flavored sauce for their onion rings, and I used to love it. All the sudden, it was disgusting, and I knew instantly I was tasting liquid smoke. I asked, the server checked with the kitchen, and yes, they'd added liquid smoke to their previously-delicious sauce. I've never eaten it since.

      5 votes
      1. Tau_Zero Link Parent
        I’ve found a significant difference between liquid smokes. The ones where ingredients are just “smoke, water” like Wright’s are far superior to the cheaper alternatives with more synthetic additives

        I’ve found a significant difference between liquid smokes. The ones where ingredients are just “smoke, water” like Wright’s are far superior to the cheaper alternatives with more synthetic additives

        2 votes
    4. tomf Link Parent
      I always lightly toast black pepper before grinding. It's a nicer peppery flavor.

      I always lightly toast black pepper before grinding. It's a nicer peppery flavor.

      4 votes
  3. [5]
    DePingus Link
    Chicken stock instead of water in a lot of stuff.

    Chicken stock instead of water in a lot of stuff.

    9 votes
    1. [3]
      SleepyGary Link Parent
      Since wife is vegetarian we typically use vegetable stock wherever we're doing a savoury dish that calls for water. I especially like it in my rice cooker.

      Since wife is vegetarian we typically use vegetable stock wherever we're doing a savoury dish that calls for water. I especially like it in my rice cooker.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        spit-evil-olive-tips Link Parent
        You can get "roasted garlic boullion" as well.

        You can get "roasted garlic boullion" as well.

        6 votes
        1. SleepyGary Link Parent
          Oooh Never saw that one before, we typically get the organic seasoned vegetable base by BTB. My wife will be very excited, she's a garlic fiend.

          Oooh Never saw that one before, we typically get the organic seasoned vegetable base by BTB. My wife will be very excited, she's a garlic fiend.

          1 vote
    2. Kronos Link Parent
      Especially when made yourself, though the smell can be horrible.

      Especially when made yourself, though the smell can be horrible.

      1 vote
  4. Catt Link
    A few drops of sesame oil when cooking veggies or in soups/noodle broth I think really adds a touch of richness.

    A few drops of sesame oil when cooking veggies or in soups/noodle broth I think really adds a touch of richness.

    7 votes
  5. [4]
    iiv Link
    White pepper to fried eggs.

    White pepper to fried eggs.

    6 votes
    1. [3]
      frickindeal Link Parent
      Ooh, I'll have to try that. I got white pepper for a recipe, and haven't really found a great use for it other than that one dish.

      Ooh, I'll have to try that. I got white pepper for a recipe, and haven't really found a great use for it other than that one dish.

      2 votes
      1. spit-evil-olive-tips Link Parent
        White pepper tends to be a secret ingredient in a lot of Asian stir-fries and similar dishes. Anyplace where you would use black pepper but might be worried about it overpowering more subtle flavors.

        White pepper tends to be a secret ingredient in a lot of Asian stir-fries and similar dishes. Anyplace where you would use black pepper but might be worried about it overpowering more subtle flavors.

        2 votes
      2. christin Link Parent
        Another white pepper-focused recipe is "bak kut teh," (a pork rib soup eaten with rice) for which a Singaporean version requires: A ton of garlic. Maybe two bulbs of it even. A rack of pork ribs...

        Another white pepper-focused recipe is "bak kut teh," (a pork rib soup eaten with rice) for which a Singaporean version requires:

        • A ton of garlic. Maybe two bulbs of it even.
        • A rack of pork ribs sliced into individual ribs
        • A handful of white pepper corns
        • Salt to taste
        Simplified version
        1. Dry toast garlic cloves with skins on and white pepper corns until aromatic
        2. Add to a pot (or a pressure cooker e.g. instant pot if you have one), add pork ribs
        3. Simmer/pressure cook until meat falls off the bone, salt to taste
        More complicated but better version

        For step 2, simmer pork ribs for 5 mins, discard water and rinse the pork ribs to remove coagulated proteins, then add to clean pot with toasted white pepper corns and garlic cloves

        2 votes
  6. grahamiam Link
    Every dish should have some acid in it. Stir a little lemon juice in to your scrambled eggs. Red wine into your soups, Rice vinegar into your stir fries. A little acidity and varying your textures...

    Every dish should have some acid in it. Stir a little lemon juice in to your scrambled eggs. Red wine into your soups, Rice vinegar into your stir fries. A little acidity and varying your textures (usually by adding a little crunch to stuff - I go through a lot of pumpkin seeds) are two super easy habits to get in to that can make a big difference.

    I forget who said it, but I heard some chef on the radio say if it were up to them they'd swap the pepper on every table out for vinegar.

    5 votes
  7. [2]
    Dovey Link
    I always add a little cinnamon to my chili.

    I always add a little cinnamon to my chili.

    4 votes
    1. tomf Link Parent
      See if you can track down some ras el hanout. Its a blend that varies a lot. Its sort of like garam masala, but for a different region. They don't taste anything alike, but its a very distinct...

      See if you can track down some ras el hanout. Its a blend that varies a lot. Its sort of like garam masala, but for a different region. They don't taste anything alike, but its a very distinct blend that really lifts up appropriate dishes.

      Ras el hanout is fantastic in chili.

      2 votes
  8. tomf Link
    Most veg: butter and sugar along with your normal seasoning. Berries and stuff: rinse them in salt water (just enough so the water is sweet) Tomato sauces: worcestershire / soy sauce / anchovies...
    • Most veg: butter and sugar along with your normal seasoning.
    • Berries and stuff: rinse them in salt water (just enough so the water is sweet)
    • Tomato sauces: worcestershire / soy sauce / anchovies are all excellent, but don't forget a little sugar and even a little white vinegar.
    • Heavy proteins : brush with butter during an untented rest
    • Deep frying: mix a little white pepper in with your seasoned flour, and always season with a little salt while its resting
    3 votes
  9. pseudolobster Link
    Alcohol in tomato based dishes. Cocoa powder in chilis. Sesame oil in a stir fry.

    Alcohol in tomato based dishes.

    Cocoa powder in chilis.

    Sesame oil in a stir fry.

    3 votes
  10. patience_limited Link
    Another cooking school trick - adding all three varieties of pepper (black, white, and red) to the salt used for general seasoning. The theory is that each kind of pepper stimulates taste buds on...

    Another cooking school trick - adding all three varieties of pepper (black, white, and red) to the salt used for general seasoning. The theory is that each kind of pepper stimulates taste buds on a different area of the tongue. The quantity isn't so great that the flavor of the pepper is perceptible, but it does enhance the ability to taste other flavors, and less salt is needed.

    The first time this seasoned salt was used for a berry dessert was surprising to me, but it definitely amplified the taste without adding much sugar, and I've always peppered my salt ever since. I also keep a pepper mill with white, black, Szechuan, green, and pink peppercorns on the table.

    3 votes
  11. Backstop Link
    Liquid smoke in stovetop red beans and rice. Not necessary if you are making it from scratch, but the boxed stuff for a weeknight dinner is much improved by smoke.

    Liquid smoke in stovetop red beans and rice. Not necessary if you are making it from scratch, but the boxed stuff for a weeknight dinner is much improved by smoke.

    2 votes
  12. whisper Link
    Fleur de sel sprinkled over the top of any simple dish or dessert.

    Fleur de sel sprinkled over the top of any simple dish or dessert.

    2 votes
  13. patience_limited Link
    Weird cooking school tricks - a pinch of nutmeg in whole egg recipes. Couldn't tell you exactly why, but it seems to moderate any sulfurous flavors from cooked yolks. It's a huge improvement in...

    Weird cooking school tricks - a pinch of nutmeg in whole egg recipes. Couldn't tell you exactly why, but it seems to moderate any sulfurous flavors from cooked yolks. It's a huge improvement in oven-baked egg dishes, like quiche.

    2 votes
  14. [4]
    nacho Link
    The reason a lot of restaurant food tastes so good is how they've always added that extra bit (lot) of butter in everything. If we're talking something that doesn't make a meal super unhealthy,...

    The reason a lot of restaurant food tastes so good is how they've always added that extra bit (lot) of butter in everything.

    If we're talking something that doesn't make a meal super unhealthy, switching out any salt with equal amounts of dehydrated vegetable broth. Less salt; better, fuller taste.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      nathan12343 Link Parent
      Totally disagree, salt brings out flavor. Underseasoned food makes me sad.

      Totally disagree, salt brings out flavor. Underseasoned food makes me sad.

      6 votes
      1. nacho Link Parent
        Dehydrated vegetable broth is usually around two thirds salt. The rest is natural flavor that's concentrated through the whole brothing. It's essentially an analogous concept with regard to sea...

        Dehydrated vegetable broth is usually around two thirds salt. The rest is natural flavor that's concentrated through the whole brothing.

        It's essentially an analogous concept with regard to sea salt as compared to table salt.

        1 vote
    2. cardboard (edited ) Link Parent
      Salt is in no way unhealthy for you. Let's end the war on salt. Salt is just a scape goat, you should be getting rid of sugar if you want to be healthy.

      Salt is in no way unhealthy for you. Let's end the war on salt.
      Salt is just a scape goat, you should be getting rid of sugar if you want to be healthy.

      1 vote
  15. spctrvl Link
    When making an omelette, put it in a big tortilla about half way through cooking, and then fry it up the rest of the way. Delicious breakfast quesadilla.

    When making an omelette, put it in a big tortilla about half way through cooking, and then fry it up the rest of the way. Delicious breakfast quesadilla.

    1 vote
  16. NubWizard Link
    I have been using harissa sauce for a dip with a surprising amount of foods. It's spicy but so good.

    I have been using harissa sauce for a dip with a surprising amount of foods. It's spicy but so good.

    1 vote
  17. [3]
    Diff Link
    Add a slice of cheese to any instant ramen. For the Picante Chicken and Tortilla Chicken flavors I also like to add a packet of taco bell's diablo sauce, some like lemon juice, and some sour cream...

    Add a slice of cheese to any instant ramen. For the Picante Chicken and Tortilla Chicken flavors I also like to add a packet of taco bell's diablo sauce, some like lemon juice, and some sour cream on top. It might be objectively terrible, I'm not a picky eater at all, but it helps get a little more flavor variety when my diet is almost entirely instant ramen.

    1 vote
    1. [2]
      pseudolobster Link Parent
      My favourite way to enhance ramen is to add about 1tbsp sriracha, a half teaspoon sesame oil, a dash of fish sauce, green onions, and an egg fried lightly so the yolk is still runny. If you're...

      My favourite way to enhance ramen is to add about 1tbsp sriracha, a half teaspoon sesame oil, a dash of fish sauce, green onions, and an egg fried lightly so the yolk is still runny. If you're eating nothing but ramen because you're broke, it's a bit of an investment to get the sriracha, fish sauce, and sesame oil, but you use so little that it'll last you several dozen packs at least.

      2 votes
      1. cfabbro Link Parent
        I eat a lot of Ramen and made a very similar suggestion in a comment about it a few weeks ago:

        I eat a lot of Ramen and made a very similar suggestion in a comment about it a few weeks ago:

        My go-to "pimped up" instant Ramen broth recipe is using chicken broth with some red miso paste, Huy Fong chili garlic sauce, oyster sauce and sesame paste (Tahini) mixed into it, instead of the gross flavor packs it comes with. I also usually add some diced up roast vegetables as well (bell peppers, sweet potatoes/butternut squash, onions, carrots, etc..), which I roast myself then freeze in individual serving ziplocks for just this purpose.

        Everything I add to my broth is pretty dang potent, so I definitely have to be careful not to add too much. In about 3-4 cups of broth I only add a 1/2 teaspoon of red miso paste, a teaspoon of Tahini and oyster sauce, and a tablespoon of chili garlic sauce (more if I feel like having it extra spicy). Sometimes I add fish sauce too, but only a few dashes since that stuff is super super strong.

        If you're a Ramen lover like me I would definitely suggest giving the roast vegetables a try, at the very least. I roast a big batch every month or two, and having them frozen in individual serving ziplocks makes it super convenient to add them to my Ramen. They add such an amazing depth of flavor to the broth and sometimes I even roast them with a bit of tarragon or sage as well just to mix it up a bit.

        1 vote
  18. Flargus Link
    I've really fallen in love with Fish Sauce, it's sold in all sorts of east-asian markets. it adds a whole lotta umami to any dish, and goes especially well with most meaty & savory dishes -...

    I've really fallen in love with Fish Sauce, it's sold in all sorts of east-asian markets. it adds a whole lotta umami to any dish, and goes especially well with most meaty & savory dishes - sometimes even adding a tiny dash to a chocolatey dish can be fantastic, trust me :)