Choose your condiments

CondimentsBarbeque season is nearly here and while we are all pretty much familiar with ketchup, mustard and relish, I thought it might be fun to look at a international twist on these three condiments that might be less familiar with the North American crowd.

The word “Ketchup” is actually from a Hokkien Chinese word  “kê-tsiap” made not from tomatoes but from fermented fish. Hmmm. For some reason I always thought it originally came from Indonesia. Probably because there is a condiment called “kecap” which is more like a sweet soy sauce than a ketchup as we know it. In any event, after the Europeans brought the dish from the Far East, it took on a whole different flavour. By 1870 three popular “ketchup” recipes emerged in Europe-mushroom, walnut and tomato.

A slow cooked ketchup like condiment from Bangladesh called “Kasundi” is one I’m dying to try.  I found out about it on one of my favourite pickling blogs Punk Domestics. The recipe calls for a blend of spices, tomatoes, sugar, chili and a few other ingredients and then slow cooked for about an hour. Apparently “It starts as a bunch of different flavors, but after a long period of cooking together, they come together into something insanely addicting,”. Sounds like a winner to me.

And speaking of winners…did you know there is an International Mustard competition held every year at the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, WI? Last year’s winner hailed from the birthplace of Dijon mustard, France. The Bornier company has been making mustard for almost two centuries so I guess they know a thing or two about mustards. But Canadians are no slouches when it comes to mustard. Did you know Canada is the largest exporter of mustard seed in the world? Wow. That’s impressive. In Iceland they have a hot dog mustard called “pylsusinnep” (say that three times fast!). The brown, sweet mustard is purportedly the best compliment to an Icelandic hot dog which is not only made from pork but lamb as well. Sounds good to me!

When I think of relish I unfortunately think of that goopy green gunk that Bick’s puts out. It may be a staple for burgers and dogs, but it certainly isn’t something I dive into. I found a fresh and zingy version of relish from Thailand called “ajat dtaeng gwa” consisting of thinly sliced cucumbers, shallots, ginger, chiles in a sweet/sour syrup. It may be a bit messy for burgers and dogs, but is sublime on curries and rice dishes.

I’m not done with condiments yet…stay tuned for another post. In the meanwhile let me know if you have a favourite international condiment!