That one special ingredient you add to the dish

Fish sauce to stews and marinades. Sriracha to most savory things.

Yes. While I cut to the chase and go straight for the MSG, Vegemite works pretty much in the same way, and has a bit of additional flavors to go with it. It’s supposed to be smeared very lightly on a buttered bun (though I tend to like it thicker than most people.) It’s a wonderful addition to stews and any savory dishes where you desire “meatiness” (umami.) Same deal with the fish sauce.

Parsnip is pretty much standard for my chicken soup. For my vegetable portion, I grew up with carrot, parsnip, and celeriac. It’s pretty much required in any Eastern European chicken soup recipe. I grew up with Polish chicken soup, and that was the usual group of vegetables. Same in my years in Hungary. Sometimes they’d throw kohlrabi and a quarter or half a cabbage head in there, too.

Also, for Polish style chicken soup, a few allspice berries was typical. I’m not exactly sure how allspice got into Polish cuisine (and there it is known as “the English spice”), but it’s pretty standard in chicken soup.

My favorite thing to add to scrambled eggs is sliced olives. The basic green ones with pimentos; save the fancy ones for eating by themselves.

I’m aware that Hungarians and other Central Europeans do things with COOKED kohlrabi, but the absolute ace thing to do with kohlrabi is to peel it and slice it thin and sprinkle it with sea salt on a platter and have it as a pre-dinner course, with a glass of wine or a cocktail. Even better than radishes.

Came here to say fish sauce. A dab’ll do ya but it packs a hell of an umami punch

Ah. I put veggies into my stockmaking when I have only a small amount of chicken bits, but most of my stock comes from when I cook chicken once a month for my dogs.

I put 5-6 pounds of gizzards, plus chicken thighs or anything else on sale into the stockpot, which makes profoundly chickeny stock, save the stock for the humans and recook the boned chicken with rice and vegetables for the poodles.

To make it into soup for the humans I add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic, plus a bay leaf. And parsley and dill later on.

i have found there’s no dish that garlic (or more garlic if the recipe already calls for it) doesn’t make better!


My bits of choice for making stock are chicken backs and wings, plus a whole onion, parsnips, smooshed garlic cloves, carrots, celery, bunch of dill, bunch of parsley, whole peppercorn, and salt. Backs and wings give it a lot of gelatin and chicken flavor.

Yes, they’re very good raw & sliced thinly. That said, I love a lot of the cooked dishes. One of my favorite is Hungarian stuffed kohlrabi.

That is the best. My Hungarian BIL introduced me to that when I was young. Thinly sliced on buttered pumpernickel, with copious salt, is wonderful too.

I’ll add olive oil and coarse ground black pepper to almost anything. I’ll drizzle the olive oil on English muffins, bagels, toast, sandwiches, pasta, pizza. Pepper too.

Smoked paprika in anything savoury
Verjuice instead of vinegar or lemon juice

Not a surprise coming from an Aussie I suppose, but I wholeheartedly endorse this. It’s the secret tweak to my bolognaise sauce and mushroom sauce in particular.

It enhances chocolate (which seems counter-intuitive because of that white+vanilla, black=chocolate thing) and a lot of other things where you don’t expect it.

Pepper Mill adds it to pancakes.

Salt. I drop it almost completely from my cooking.


Then what he said…

I save marmite for direct application onto English muffins and sandwiches. It’s too precious to put into a big stew. That’s what my 2.5 kilo bucket of vegemite is for.


I babysat some kids who refused to eat the homemade beef stew because it didn’t taste right. In a sense they were right, they were used to Dinty Moore or the chunky canned soups. I sat and thought about the taste, and figured it out. Hydrolized protein. They use it n the canned goods to boost the flavors, and if you add a tiny amount of vegemite to homemade soups and stews it gives it that hydrolized protein backtaste. Problem solved, they then were willing to eat homemade isntead of canned glop :smiley:

So I tend to add vegemite to a lot of stuff to boost the umami. And I like a thin schmear on toast - it is really good if you take a thin slice of a good cheddar, a wedge of apple, a spoonful of Major Grey Chutney and you sneak in a tiny schmear of vegemite to the stack.

Andy Taylor learned that the secret ingredient was oregano! :smiley: