Everyone is dipping these days.
Many fast-food chains and restaurants feature condiment islands set up to accommodate the myriad of tastes out there, be it burgers, tacos or quick pan-Asian.
Teens have turned dipping pizza “Brooklyn style” in Ranch dressing into a national ritual. Even onion rings are now offered with blue cheese and ranch dressings on the side.
We have always loved to dip at social gatherings; beginning with ruffled chips in onion dip then evolving to tortilla chips and salsa, now the nation’s most popular snack. Even though the concept of the fondue pot dinner goes in and out of popularity every other decade or so, the required dipping sauces are what make it fun and unique.
Sauces can be quickly whipped up from ingredients most people have in their refrigerator and cupboard. From any of the following– olives, mustard, mayo, jam, lemons, balsamic vinegar, fruit juice, oil, dried herbs and spices– you can make a killer dipping sauce.
Here are a few ideas:
For salmon or shellfish:
Mix mayonnaise, sweet/hot mustard (or Dijon), and curry powder together then add a squeeze of fresh lime juice to taste. Garnish with a mint leaf.
Combine sour cream (or crème fraiche), capers, Worcestshire sauce, Tabasco, horseradish sauce and chopped chives.
Thin fig jam or orange marmalade with brandy, rum or orange juice; add ground cloves to taste. Garnish with grated orange peel.
For Asian dishes:
Stir together Plum sauce, soy sauce, hot Chinese mustard, a splash of rum and a few drops of toasted sesame oil.
Boosting prepared sauces is also creative fun and you really can’t go wrong.
Purchased cocktail sauces are often too sugary. Empty a jar of prepared cocktail sauce into a bowl. Add more horseradish, Worcestshire sauce, lemon juice and Tabasco. Stir to mix, refill the jar and you will always have “kicked up” cocktail sauce at the ready. This same method can be used to improve bottled barbecue sauce.
Even a bottled pesto sauce can be mixed with mayonnaise to create a beautiful and interesting enhancement to grilled chicken or fish.
Dipping sauces displayed on the plate in pretty, tiny condiment dishes make the meal appear more exotic, bountiful and colorful.
So, start experimenting and have fun discovering the wealth of flavors that can be created with the staples you already have on hand.