And other favorite ingredients from the New York-based chef.
Dale Talde, like many chefs, is obsessed with umami—the elusive fifth sense that makes everything from ramen to ketchup taste so craveable. The prolific New York restaurateur serves it up in the form of pretzel dumplings and crispy oyster and bacon pad thai at his hip, mashed-up Asian restaurant, Talde, and in the pickled pepper and pepperoni pizza at his pseudo-Italian hotspot, Massoni. The source of said umami, more often than not, can be found in Talde’s pantry, which both at home and in his restaurants centers on jars of fermented foods capable of adding a la minute funk to any dish.
Why fermented condiments? “They will last you a while, the flavor is impactful, and you can get that depth of taste without spending all day at the stove.” What about spices, I ask? “No. That shit goes bad quicker than you think.”
Talde’s funkified sauces usually fall into the East Asian or Italian camps—the two parts of the world where he thinks the cuisine is most built for umami (and not coincidentally, the regions where he most draws inspiration in his culture-crossing restaurants and bars). Here’s a rundown of those jars and cans that you’ll always find in Talde’s pantry—in addition, of course, to the bag of weed he keeps in the drawer under his microwave.
Filipino Shrimp Paste
“This tastes like home for me. I admit: the smell is not for everybody. My wife is not the biggest fan. But all you have to do is add just a little, and it provides this flavor that is funky to the max. I’ll sauté some greens with garlic, vinegar, oil, and a dab of this paste. My house will smell totally fucked, but the greens will taste great—it’s beyond depth of flavor. It’s incredible.”
Barrio Fiesta Spicy Sauteed Shrimp Paste
Smoky, Subtle Broth
“This is an instant broth that pairs well with any and all seafood—I’ll always use it as a base for any kind of lobster or crab boil. You can also use it as a straight seasoning—like in fried rice. It has this smoked quality that I love—it’s a subtle smoke, not over the top, like bacon. It is like adding bacon to something without the heaviness of pork fat. Everyone loves pork fat, but you can’t eat that shit every day.”
Ajinomoto Hon Dashi
“This sauce tastes like miso with a lot more personality. First off, you can literally keep this paste in your pantry forever. Second, it is versatile. You can sauté vegetables in it, you can use it as a base for a simple dressing with olive oil and lemon, or you can turn it into a dip for cucumbers. The sky is the limit. It has this really bold garlic and chili flavor that is deeply funky and savory.”
Korea Obok Ssamjang
The Best Hangover Killer
“Yes, I fuck with SPAM. The Philippines is one of the biggest consumers of SPAM, so I grew up on it. This is comforting sustenance for me. It’s hard to plan when I am going to go out, get fucked up, wake up with a massive hangover, and want to make something really hearty quickly. Thankfully, I always have SPAM. You can fry it up with some kimchi and old rice, and it’s an instant hangover killer. It’s something you can keep in your pantry for a while, and it’ll be there for when you need to build a meal around something. And you don’t have to touch fresh anything. I love the pure ham flavor, and how it gets nice and crispy on the outside.”
Freshest Pasta Sauce
“These tomatoes make the perfect pasta sauce. You don’t even have to do anything else. You just open the can, get rid of a little bit of the juice, squish what’s inside with your hands, and you are good to go. You don’t have to cook it—the fresh, deep tomato taste is there. The tomatoes are already salted, which preserves them and lends umami. This also doesn’t have any of that weird added stuff that bottled sauces have. And the serving size is perfect: one can makes exactly a pound of spaghetti. It’s very reliable.”
San Marzano Whole Peeled Tomatoes
Aziz Ansari Shows Us What’s In His Carry-On
MORE STORIES LIKE THIS ONE