Some spendy pantry items that'll help your cooking

Originally published at: Some spendy pantry items that'll help your cooking | Boing Boing


That was well done.
I disagree about spices not being worth the extra money (at least based on what’s available around here) but he’s spot on about the beans.
I’ve been ordering some spices from Mountain Rose herbal, and the difference compared to what I can get at the store is very noticeable.


My stance on spices is that it depends on how frequent some spices a person uses. If they’re infrequently used ones it might be a waste to buy nicer spices only to have them sit around, but broadly speaking buying the best is not necessary unless it’s a super essential star component for a dish. Some of the spices i do splurge on are turmeric, powdered ginger, cinnamon, garam masala and black peppercorns (and i’d like to find a good quality smoked paprika and a mild sweet paprika but i haven’t gotten around to it yet). And by splurge i mean about mid-grade spices, not cheap and not expensive.

I also think it’s worth buying really good soy sauce along with the usual cheap kind, for some dishes using a higher quality soy sauce really elevates a dish. Same with balsamic, fish sauce (i also buy the Red Boat brand) and certain oils (for me i like to get a good quality sesame oil).

Edit: halfway through the vid. I will say that buying high quality rice is worth it depending on what you’re making, i spend extra on good quality sushi rice and also good quality black rice as i feel like it makes a huge difference.


FWIW, the smoked paprika I’ve been getting from Mountain Rose is great. I probably go through that more quickly than any other spice aside from salt and black peppercorns. I think they’d qualify as mid-grade, they’re not super-expensive, I just buy big amounts so they seem pricey. Their cayenne is also amazing. I’ve actually found I need to adjust recipes if I’m using their cayenne, because it’s so potent. And I love spicy food, so that’s saying something.
I haven’t tried different soy sauces, but I remember when we were talking about tea eggs somewhere, one of the regulars mentioned using the “right” kind of soy sauce made a big difference.
Also never tried different fish sauces, so that might be fun!


Thanks for the rec for the paprika, i’ll check that brand out :smiley:

Better quality soy sauces are less salt forward which means you are getting more flavor into dishes beyond just salt. I would recommend a good Shoyu since those tend to be less salty than typical soy sauce, but most higher quality soy sauces are gunna be worth checking out.

And fish sauce is potent and really funky. You will stink up the kitchen when you use it lol, but if you have some recipes where you can use fish sauce in i heartily recommend it. I generally use it in certain stir fries and fried rice recipes, and a little goes a long way.

1 Like

Tellicherry? Got them once and now I can’t quit!

1 Like

I don’t think the kind i have are tellicherry but i’ll check that out once i’m out. Also i have been wanting to buy some Sichuan peppercorns for a while :eyes:

1 Like

Heck yeah, nothing like the taste of sichuan pepper. There’s a place not far from me that serves what I imagine is probably the closest thing to authentic xiao mian that you can get in this metro area. I haven’t delved into making it myself yet.

1 Like

I kinda turn off when a Youtuby person resorts to the Michelin stars of their previous experience.

The one thing I like about seeing this tube is the comments so far. A discussion around food and taste strikes at the heart of nearly all cultures.

One thing I felt this video didn’t address enough was the actual economy of what you pay for. For example:

If you buy an expensive olive oil it will denature quickly after you open the bottle and air hits it… one, two months tops… how often would you actually use it to fry with and why? Buy expensive small bottles for when you want to taste the olive oil.

Store bought dry herbs and spices are good and cheap. Don’t stock up as their shelf life maybe 8 months.

Unfortunately good eggs from a boutique grocer are often not as fresh as the bad chicken farmed eggs as the turnover is lower because of the higher price… good to check the date.

Bullion or stock powder is a bone of contention for me. I know of a 3 star Michelin restaurant that uses Masselle vegetarian powder as part of its cooking process (a seasoning in prep that will never be noticed on the plate). I made a jus with a beef Oxo cube. traditional roux and box red wine reduction and wowed some chefs. The ends can certainly justify some cheap means in the production!

A take away from this is, spend a lot on the stuff that you use little of but makes a noticeable difference (fish sauce). Experiment incrementally with dishes you know, rinse and repeat.

Serve food from love to both the people you know and those you don’t know.


Do it! It’s great, I love it. I’m not gonna lie the last time I used it was last weekend when my child had a load of leftover chips from the chipper and I fried onions and bell peppers and tossed the cold chips in with sichuan pepper, white pepper, ground clove, ground chilli, and cinnamon.

Another one for the pepper fans is long pepper

It’s like pepper, but more pepper than pepper is. I don’t really know what to do with it as I picked it up randomly in a local shop (Kwality Foods, so not a typical gourmet shop!) but I use it in stews.


cross posting because this is another item that’s worth the extra buck (or maybe not :sob:)

This is not fine

1 Like

Red Boat Fish Sauce/Nước Mắm is absolutely the best.

Also, though, vanilla extract. Take the time to make some. Buy some vanilla beans, slit them lengthwise, and put them in a flip-top bottle with some vodka. Let sit 6-12 months before you begin using them. It is absolutely worth the wait.


I’ve considered doing this but me and my gf use vanilla so infrequently i couldn’t justify the expense. That said i do prefer the natural stuff over the cheap “extracts”, but like i mentioned the use is very sparse. I think i’ve only used the vanilla extract that we have twice over the last year

1 Like

I haven’t used it so much either but next year, in the knowledge that I have amazing extract, I will be using it all the time no doubt. I look forward to vanilla custard without having to strain the seeds out! I’m doing this.

1 Like

I’m not sure I trust his advice, he never mentioned Lawry’s seasoned salt, the bulk size from Costco.


That was me, and it does.


Thanks! It was between you and another, and I couldn’t find the reference. I remember the tips being really good, though!

1 Like

MAY I give a shout-out to Penzey’s Spices? I always liked them, but never knew how they really felt until they really, actually, shut their store down during Covid. Internet search reveals…

What’s this at the bottom?


I love Penzey’s politics. I just haven’t bought from them, because support local etc.


I second that shout-out. They closed the stores closest to me and it has been awful. Their smoked paprika was fabulous.