Condiment: What is it and How to use it?

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A condiment is a spice, sauce or other food preparation that is added to foods to impart a particular flavor, enhance its flavor, or in some cultures, to complement the dish. The term originally described pickled or preserved foods, but has shifted meaning over time.

Many condiments are available packaged in single-serving sachets (packets), like mustard or ketchup, particularly when supplied with take-out or fast-food meals. Condiments are usually applied by the diner.

Condiments are sometimes added prior to serving, for example a sandwich made with ketchup or mustard. Some condiments are used during cooking to add flavor or texture to the food; barbecue sauce, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, marmite are examples.

What are condiments

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The Many Faces of Condiments

A condiment is a substance that is added to food to enhance its flavor or to complement its taste. It can be a sauce, dressing, paste, or spread that is placed on the table or used in cooking. Condiments are commonly used in Western and Asian cuisines and can be sweet, spicy, sour, or pungent. They can be made from a variety of ingredients, including fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs.

What do condiments encompass?

Condiments encompass a wide range of foods, including sauces, spreads, and pastes. They can include:

  • Ketchup: a sweet and tangy tomato-based sauce commonly used on burgers and fries
  • Mustard: a pungent paste made from crushed mustard seeds, commonly used on sandwiches and hot dogs
  • Soy sauce: a salty and savory sauce made from fermented soybeans, commonly used in Chinese and Japanese cooking
  • Barbecue sauce: a sweet and tangy sauce commonly used on grilled meats
  • Salsa: a spicy sauce made from tomatoes, chili peppers, and other ingredients, commonly used in Mexican cuisine
  • Salad dressing: a sauce or vinaigrette used to dress salads
  • Chutney: a sweet and spicy relish made from fruits, vegetables, and spices, commonly used in Indian and Indonesian cuisine
  • Pickled vegetables: vegetables that have been preserved in vinegar or brine, commonly used as a side dish or garnish
  • Relish: a sweet and tangy condiment made from chopped vegetables, commonly used on hot dogs and burgers
  • Preserves: a sweet spread made from fruit and sugar, commonly used on toast and pastries

What are the common ingredients in condiments?

Condiments can contain a variety of ingredients, depending on the type of condiment and the cuisine it is used in. Some common ingredients include:

  • Sugar: used to sweeten condiments like ketchup, barbecue sauce, and salad dressing
  • Vinegar: used to add acidity and tanginess to condiments like pickles, relish, and salad dressing
  • Spices: used to add flavor and heat to condiments like salsa, curry paste, and barbecue sauce
  • Soy sauce: used to add saltiness and umami flavor to Asian condiments like stir-fry sauce and dipping sauce
  • Garlic: used to add pungency and flavor to condiments like aioli and salsa
  • Ginger: used to add a spicy and aromatic flavor to Asian condiments like teriyaki sauce and curry paste
  • Lemon juice: used to add acidity and freshness to condiments like salad dressing and aioli
  • Salt: used to enhance the flavor of condiments like ketchup, mustard, and soy sauce

What are some popular condiment brands?

There are many popular condiment brands, including:

  • Heinz: known for their ketchup and mustard
  • French’s: known for their mustard and crispy fried onions
  • Tabasco: known for their hot sauce
  • Sriracha: known for their spicy chili sauce
  • Kikkoman: known for their soy sauce
  • Hellmann’s: known for their mayonnaise
  • Hidden Valley: known for their ranch dressing

What are some ancient and new techniques used in making condiments?

The techniques used to make condiments vary depending on the type of condiment and the cuisine it is used in. Some ancient and new techniques include:

  • Fermentation: used to make soy sauce, fish sauce, and kimchi
  • Pickling: used to make pickles, sauerkraut, and relish
  • Preserving: used to make jams, jellies, and fruit preserves
  • Grinding: used to make pastes like curry paste and chili paste
  • Extracting: used to make oils like sesame oil and perilla oil
  • Smoking: used to make chipotle peppers and smoked paprika
  • Infusing: used to make flavored vinegars and oils

What are some suitable foods for condiments?

Condiments can be used on a variety of foods, including:

  • Meat: condiments like barbecue sauce, ketchup, and mustard are commonly used on grilled and roasted meats
  • Fish: condiments like tartar sauce, soy sauce, and lemon juice are commonly used on fish dishes
  • Salad: condiments like salad dressing and vinaigrette are commonly used on salads
  • Sandwiches: condiments like mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup are commonly used on sandwiches
  • Vegetables: condiments like salsa, hummus, and ranch dressing are commonly used as dips for vegetables
  • Cheese: condiments like honey, fruit preserves, and dill pickles are commonly used as accompaniments to cheese plates

The Flavorful History of Condiments

Condiments have been a part of human cuisine for centuries. The word “condiment” comes from the Latin term “condimentum,” which means “spice.” Evidence of pickled foods has been found in ancient Egyptian tombs, dating back to 2400 BC. The Romans also used condiments, and they were described as a mixture of ground spices and wine, grape skins, or leftover burning mustum. Monks in medieval Europe preserved food with vinegar and spices, which eventually led to the creation of mustard.

Reasons for Using Condiments

People use condiments for many reasons, including:

  • To add flavor: Condiments can enhance the flavor of food, making it more enjoyable to eat.
  • To preserve food: Many condiments, such as pickles and mustard, were originally used to preserve food and prevent spoilage.
  • To add nutrition: Some condiments, such as salsa and guacamole, are made from vegetables and provide additional nutrients to a meal.

Get Your Taste Buds Tingling with These Must-Try Asian Condiments

Soy sauce is a staple in Asian cuisine and is made from fermented soybeans, wheat, water, and salt. It is a versatile condiment that can be used as a dipping sauce, marinade, or seasoning. There are different types of soy sauce, including light, dark, and sweet soy sauce. It is a great source of umami flavor and can be used to enhance the taste of various dishes.


Sriracha is a hot sauce made from chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. It originated in Thailand but has gained popularity worldwide. It is a great condiment for those who love spicy food and can be used as a dipping sauce or added to dishes like noodles, stir-fries, and soups. It has a sweet and tangy flavor that can add a kick to any dish.

Miso Paste

Miso paste is a traditional Japanese condiment made from fermented soybeans, rice, or barley. It is a thick paste with a salty and slightly sweet flavor. It is commonly used in soups, marinades, and dressings. Miso paste is also a good source of probiotics and can help improve gut health.

Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a popular condiment in Southeast Asian cuisine made from fermented fish and salt. It has a pungent smell but adds a savory and salty flavor to dishes. It is commonly used in marinades, dipping sauces, and stir-fries. It is also a good source of umami flavor and can enhance the taste of various dishes.

Sesame Oil

Sesame oil is a flavorful oil made from sesame seeds. It is commonly used in Asian cuisine as a seasoning or cooking oil. It has a nutty and slightly sweet flavor and can add depth to dishes like stir-fries, noodles, and salads. It is also a good source of healthy fats and antioxidants.

In conclusion, Asian condiments are a great way to add flavor and depth to your dishes. Whether you prefer sweet, spicy, or savory flavors, there is a condiment out there for you. So, go ahead and explore the world of Asian condiments and take your taste buds on a journey they won’t forget!


So there you have it- everything you need to know about condiments. They’re a delicious addition to any meal, and can make the difference between bland and delicious. So the next time you’re cooking, don’t forget the condiments!

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.