What’s your sauce?

Sriracha sauce

Green-capped, rooster-stamped Sriracha is the undisputed king of cult condiments, appearing on some of the country’s best tables, including Melbourne’s Chin Chin and Momofuku Seiobo in Sydney. An estimated 20 million bottles of Huy Fong Foods Sriracha are produced each year. Its Australian distributor says demand for the sauce increased 30 per cent last year but the Californian company’s founder, Chinese-Vietnamese migrant David Tran, 68, is tight-lipped about the condiment’s international growth and famously doesn’t advertise.

What is it? A pulpy, pungent mix of fresh jalapeno chillies, garlic, vinegar, sugar and salt that goes with everything.

How to use it Small Victories cafe in Carlton North serves Sriracha with barbecued pork belly and Korean wagyu sandwiches.

French’s Classic Yellow Mustard

You’ll know this inoffensive mustard, in a curvaceous, primary yellow squeeze bottle, as the signature squiggle on a hotdog. After training in the United States, Huxtaburger’s Daniel Wilson chose French’s for his burgers because ”[it’s] that classic American mustard”.

What is it? A mild American prepared mustard made from mustard seeds, vinegar, turmeric and other flavourings.

How to use it Wilson suggests adding it to coleslaw. ”It’s piquant without being too spicy like a Dijon.”

Kewpie mayonnaise

With its cute Kewpie doll-adorned plastic sheath, this Japanese mayonnaise sold in a squeezy bottle packs a umami punch. And who can resist a mayonnaise with its own mascot?

What is it? Egg yolks rather than whole eggs add a distinctive richness, which is balanced by rice vinegar and MSG.

How to use it ”I really like Kewpie with any kind of seafood, especially fried fish fingers and soft-shell crab,” says Small Victories’ Alric Hansen.

Tabasco sauce

Sriracha is grabbing all the headlines but Tabasco is still the world’s most popular hot sauce. The Louisiana company, established in 1868, initially distributed Tabasco in cologne bottles – hence the design of today’s small glass vessels.

What is it? Tabasco sauce is made from aged red tabasco chillies, vinegar and salt, although the company now produces hot sauces made from habanero, chipotle and garlic, along with Tabasco-spiked chocolate, jerky, jelly beans and ice-cream.

How to use it James Metcalfe, head chef at Sydney’s New Orleans-inspired restaurant the Bourbon, shakes it over pizza. ”I also like having it on ribs. I generally put it on a lot of stuff – spaghetti bolognese works well, steak – but pizza’s my favourite.”

Aioli with a twist

It may have originated in Provence, but experimental chefs are pushing the garlic mayonnaise’s culinary boundaries. Melbourne Pub Group’s executive chef, Stephen Burke, says aioli makes a regular appearance on Circa’s menu – sometimes made with sesame oil and served with white-cut chicken and spring onions, with fermented Korean black garlic to pair with squid, or, on the current menu, with thyme and onions caramelised with sherry alongside triple-cooked chips.

What is it? A versatile garlic-loaded emulsion made from olive oil, lemon juice, egg yolks – and a dab of creativity.

How to use it Naomi Lowry, head chef at Sydney’s Tappo Osteria, offers a tip for anyone experimenting at home: incorporate a few drops of boiling water at the end of the emulsion to prevent the mixture from splitting. Lowry says aioli is a natural with ”snacky, dipping foods”, especially fried foods like arancini.

HP Sauce

This sticky brown breakfast favourite is popping up on British-leaning cafe menus. Matt Forbes makes his own version at Yarraville’s Cobb Lane, having grown up with the sauce in England. ”It’s like a family jug, you know. It’s been with me my whole life,” says the Yorkshireman. Developed by a grocer, HP has been a British favourite since 1903. The initials stand for Houses of Parliament, depicted on the label in blue.

What is it? The original recipe remains a closely guarded secret, but ingredients include tamarind, malt and spirit vinegars, tomatoes, dates and secret spices. Twenty-eight million bottles are consumed each year.

How to use it Forbes uses HP liberally: ”I love it with fish and chips, sandwiches, anything. It’s all breakfast-orientated really – with a sausage sandwich it’s fantastic, or mixed into scrambled eggs.”

Where to buy: Many of these condiments are stocked at major supermarkets. Kewpie mayonnaise and Huy Fong Foods Sriracha are available from Asian grocers.

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