SAVEUR 100’s Ingredients and Products

Pernigotti Cocoa Powder I adore Pernigotti cocoa powder, from Italy. It comes in big, cheap two-pound bags at my local baking supply store, and it's got a really deep, rich taste with just a hint of vanilla. It's rounder and sweeter in flavor than many other cocoa powders, and it's perfect for brownies, flourless chocolate cake, and hot cocoa. I also make a rub for chicken or pork chops by mixing Pernigotti cocoa powder with ground coffee, chipotle and ancho chile powder, salt, pepper, and cinnamon. The possibilities are countless, and all for $12 a pound. -Megan Knievel, Bremerton, Washington
Wild Chanterelles Last August I was hiking near my house in western Massachusetts with my Swedish goddaughter, Josefin, when she suddenly cried out, "Chanterelles!" There they were, two clumps of ruffle-edged, bright yellow mushrooms growing beneath a hemlock tree. But were they really chanterelles? Josefin was sure of it; her mother forages for them near their home in Sweden every summer. We picked them, but I made her promise there'd be no cooking until I did some research. Once I was certain these weren't one of the six varieties of poisonous mushroom that grow in New England, we sauteed our chanterelles in butter and then added a splash of heavy cream. When the liquid had mostly evaporated, we sprinkled them with sea salt and a grind of pepper. The chanterelles were firm and meaty and tasted of the woods they came from. -Nancy Pick, Sunderland, Massachusetts
Bulgur It wasn't until I met my Armenian-born husband, Bernard, that I understood the wonders of bulgur, the cracked wheat that's widely used in Middle Eastern cooking. Sure, I'd tasted it in tabbouleh, the delicious salad of bulgur and parsley. But soon Bernard was introducing me to hearty Armenian soups made with bulgur and mushrooms and to kufte, seasoned ground lamb meatballs kneaded with the grain. I fell in love right away with the ingredient's nutty flavor and delicate texture. Bulgur makes a wonderful thickener for soups and can be used as a binder for lentil dumplings and meatballs. It can be mixed with meat and seasonings and stuffed inside hollowed-out squash, zucchini, and eggplants. I've found varieties that are coarse and slightly chewy and others that are as fine as sand. Bulgur is a staple in our home, and it's my favorite ingredient. There are just so many dishes in which to use this simple, ancient food. -Marion Karian, Fresno, California
Walla Walla Onions Last summer my husband and I drove through Washington State, tasting great wines at every stop, but it wasn't bottles we carried home in our luggage; it was Walla Walla onions. These medium-size onions, grown in the southeastern part of the state, are sweet and mild. When cooked (I love them in curries; see Chicken and Onion Curry for a recipe), they turn luscious and even sweeter, but it's almost a shame to cook them, because they're so delicious raw. -Marsha Pederson, Roselle, Illinois
Sumac I'm a sour craver, so sumac, the supertangy, brick red Middle Eastern spice, is the seasoning for me. I first tried sumac, a powder made by grinding the dried berries from the bush of the same name, years ago at my sister's house. An exchange student from Azerbaijan was visiting, and one evening she made her family's lamb meatballs, which she served in a broth sprinkled with sumac. The spice had a lemony flavor that really perked up my taste buds. I was hooked. Sumac seemed exotic to me, and I thought it would be hard to find, but then I spotted a big bag of it at the Middle Eastern grocery store near my office and found out I could buy it online, too. Sumac has become a gateway to the cooking of the Middle East for me; now I add it to grilled meats, stews, and salads from that part of the world, and I use it to give dazzle to simple dishes like grilled or boiled vegetables, which I drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sumac and coarse salt. -Catherine Zilber, Knoxville, Tennessee
Pickled Tomatoes Give me a pickled green tomato anytime over a dill cucumber. Plump and tangy with a garlicky edge, they're great sliced on my salmon salad sandwich or just eaten alone. There are lots of good jarred brands out there, but I make my own from small unripe tomatoes; then I put them in my martinis.-Faith Kolean, Willow, Alaska
Quail Eggs I use quail eggs instead of regular old chicken eggs whenever I can. Because they're so small-about the size of a walnut-they can add an accent to a dish without overwhelming it, and they have a subtler taste. You can soft-boil a couple of quail eggs to top a salad niçoise, or you can fry them over easy for an elegant steak-and-eggs breakfast. And deviled quail eggs make adorable canapes. I've even eaten them raw, cracked over sea urchin sushi. In this case, smaller is better. -Megan Wyatt, Bainbridge Island, Washington
Wonton Wrappers Sure, packaged wonton wrappers are just right for making wontons, shumai, and gyoza. But they're also great for stuffed pastas and other dishes. I use them to make ravioli filled with anything I have on hand-smoked salmon, shrimp, spinach, pesto, or maybe goat cheese and ham. I just moisten the wrappers, spoon in the filling, seal them, and boil them until they're tender; then I toss them in brown butter and grated Parmesan cheese. These perfectly round or square sheets are so versatile, you can even use them for dessert. I brush them with butter, bake them until they're crisp, and layer them with whipped cream and berries to make easy napoleons.-Alejandra Ramos, New York, New York
Lupini Beans Last year, at a movie theater near our house in Florence, Italy, my Italian-born husband bought a small plastic bag of yellow lupini beans from the concession stand. I'd seen the brined beans, about the size of limas, sold as snacks all over Italy, but I'd never bothered to try them. Later, in the darkened theater, I tasted one. The salty, nutty-tasting bean had a delicious snap and was just as addictive as my popcorn. Italians have been eating these beans since the days of the Roman Empire; I can't believe it took me this long to discover them. -Fiona Lapham, Florence, Italy
Salt Cod It is said that the Portuguese have 365 different ways to use salt cod, also called bacalao, baccala, or bacalhau, depending on what part of the world you're from. My Portuguese mother had one she particularly loved, a simple fish stew. My father wasn't Portuguese, but he had a favorite salt cod dish too: his garlicky codfish cakes. I have been eating salt cod for over 70 years, and it is one of my favorite foods. When I was a child, my mother would buy a box of salt cod for 75 cents; she'd just soak it in water overnight and have the makings of a nourishing and inexpensive dinner. I still make her stew and the codfish cakes. It's a taste of home, no matter where I am. (For a recipe, see Brazilian salt cod stew.) -Arn Ghigliazza, Santa Cruz, California
Herbes de Provence
Herbes de Provence

Packaged in tiny French canning jars, hand-mixed herbes de Provence make a wonderful gift for the home cook. This recipe will fill one 4-oz container; multiply it by as many jars as you wish to give out.

Armenian Cucumbers I'm crazy about Armenian cucumbers-also called snake cucumbers-which you don't have to peel or seed. I just slice them and serve them with olive oil, tomatoes, and fresh basil, or even on their own. You don't need to go to Armenia to find them, either; I'm usually able to buy them at my local farmers' market during the summer, and I've even grown them in my backyard garden. The flavor is mild and slightly sweet, almost melony. Once you try one, you'll be hooked. -Alcestis Cooky Oberg, Dickinson, Texas
Trader Joe's Lime & Chili Cashews When you crunch into these snacks, the flavors come in waves. First, there's the tang of roasted Kaffir lime leaves, then a mildly salty bite, then the subtler, citrusy taste of lemongrass, followed up with the kick of chiles. And then the sweet flavor of the cashew really comes through. I live in a rural area and have to drive an hour and a half to buy these. They're worth it. -Clay Schroll, Freeport, Illinois
Lingham's Hot Sauce There are countless hot sauces out there, but I don't think any are as versatile or as addictive as Lingham's, which has been produced in Penang, Malaysia, for over a century. There's nothing in there but fresh red chiles, vinegar, sugar, and salt. Still, the bright red sauce delivers a special fiery kick and just enough sweetness. It's sort of a cross between the garlicky Sriracha you see at many Asian restaurants in the United States and Thai sweet chile sauce. The condiment was supposedly concocted in 1908 by an Indian immigrant whose last name was Lingham; by the 1950s, the sauce was popular all over Asia. Nowadays, you find it at street-food stalls across Malaysia, where it's sold as Lingham's Chilli Sauce and is often served as a dip for fried spring rolls, but you can also get it at Asian supermarkets in this country. I use it for barbecue marinades, sweet-and-sour pork, chicken, and fish, and I even drizzle it on omelettes and rice. -Bee Yinn Low, Irvine, California
King Oscar Sardines For me, these mild, tender Norwegian sardines are the perfect picnic food; they're easy to carry and delicious right out of the can. They're also great fried with bacon and eaten on toast (see Bacon-Wrapped Sardines). -Sarah Fisher, Takoma Park, Maryland
Olive Oil Tortas They're like a crispbread but more luscious; a tortilla but crunchier; a cookie but not as sugary. Whatever they are, Ines Rosales Olive Oil Tortas, made by hand according to a century-old recipe in Seville, Spain, are heavenly. I'm addicted to the sesame-sea salt variety and the sweet anise kind, which I eat with slices of Serrano ham. -Michael Klashman, New York, New York
Betel Leaves One of my most vivid memories of my Vietnamese-American family is the aroma of bo la lot, seasoned beef wrapped in betel leaves and grilled over charcoal. I remember my excitement at seeing the tidy rolls lined up on the grill, the glistening betel leaves crisping at the edges. Inside, the filling of marinated ground beef and lemongrass would remain succulent, protected from the searing heat by the leafy wrapper. The fire would release the leaves' fragrant oils and brisk, peppery flavors. Many people in Southeast and South Asia chew cultivated betel leaves (Piper betle) as a stimulant and a breath freshener, but milder-tasting wild betel leaves (Piper sarmentosum) are more often employed in cooking. I use the leaves, which I find fresh or frozen at Asian grocery stores, to make not just Vietnamese dishes but also Thai ones, like miang kam, a snack in which peanuts, coconut, dried shrimp, onion, garlic, ginger, chiles, and lime are wrapped in a betel leaf to make a bite-size package. They also add a zesty kick to my nasi ulam, a Malaysian rice salad. -Hong Pham, Los Angeles, California
Hatch Green Chiles These flame-roasted chiles are a New Mexican obsession. I put them on pizza, puree them to make fiery soups, top my cheeseburgers with them, and use them to make the spicy sauce that smothers my morning huevos. The peppers, which can be anywhere from finger size to a foot long, are actually regular New Mexico chiles that are harvested early, before they turn red, and they're named after a town in southern New Mexico that's famous for peppers. The roasting gives them a smoky flavor and a hint of sweetness that tempers their heat. Skinned and seeded, the roasted peppers can be used for almost any dish you'd put fresh chiles in-spicy dips, quesadillas, enchiladas. I've moved away from New Mexico, but I mail-order whole bushels of the chiles so that I can roast them myself in my oven.-Rebecca Orchant, Brooklyn, New York
PacifiKool Hawaiian Ginger Syrup I first tasted PacifiKool Hawaiian Ginger Syrup at a farmers' market on Oahu; one of the vendors added a drizzle of it to seltzer to make a sort of impromptu ginger ale. Zing! One sip snapped me to attention. Soon I was using it all the time. Now I put a splash of the syrup into my stir-fries, I add it to my marinades, and I spike my cocktails with it. No matter what I'm making, it always reminds me of Hawaii. -Robin Kanno, San Ramon, California

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