33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have.

How many of my essential oils do you have at home?

When you cook and eat food from around the world, your stock cupboard should be ready for anything, It should be packed with all the essential ingredients you’ll ever need. Ready to help you create mouthwatering dishes from any country, any time.

My helpful guide takes you through 33 oils, vinegars and sauces every cook should haveā€“so you can skip from Barcelona to Bangkok or Milan to Mumbai all without leaving the house. Lets get stocking…

 

Essential Oils

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - olive oil
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Olive Oil

 

European, Middle Eastern , North African

The most abundant oil used throughout Europe and The Middle East. Regular Olive oil is the oil produced from the second or later pressings of the olives – It’s not really an oil meant for anything other than frying, or where you don’t want the flavour of olives to dominate.

Often comes as a blend of oils with vegetable or canola and called ‘Mediterranean Blend’

Dishes to cook using Olive Oil

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - extra virgin olive oil
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Extra Virgin Olive Oil

 

European, Middle Eastern , North African

Extra Virgin olive oil refers to the oil coming from the first or second pressing of the olives. The process creates a refined flavour, stronger in flavour than that of regular olive oil. Olive oils are prized around the World, but it’s in The Middle East & Europe that they came to be.

Because it’s a more refined product, for the best flavour it should only really be used uncooked for dressings, finishing oils or simply to dip bread into. If you’re frying, don’t waste the good stuff, use a cheaper oil, most of the flavour is lost when you heat it anyway.

Dishes to cook using Extra Virgin Olive Oil

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - grapeseed oil
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Grapeseed Oil

 

European, Mediterranean

When I don’t want the flavour of olive to overpower a dish but still want a refined oil – I’ll turn to grapeseed oil. Grapeseed oil has a very mild flavour, so will act only as a vehicle to take on other flavours for things like salad dressings or mayonnaises. I’ll also use grapeseed oil in some baking recipes as the fat element – it’s a polyunsaturated oil and therefore less evil than butter (even though butter is a good friend of mine)

Dishes to cook using Grapeseed Oil

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - avocado oil
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Avocado Oil

 

Worldwide

Avocado oil is a great alternative to Olive Oil, cold-pressed Extra-Virgin Avocado oil has a richly flavoured characteristic. A healthy oil too, rich in Vitamin E and has less saturated fat that Olive oil. This makes it an excellent ingredient to use for salad dressings and as finishing oils for Mediterranean dishes like Hummus or Baba Ghanoush.

Interestingly, Avocados are native to Mexico and Central America, and have been enjoyed for millennia, but the production of oil extraction only came to being in the 1990s in New Zealand.

Dishes to cook using Avocado Oil

 

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - canola oil
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Canola Oil

 

Worldwide

Canola is my go to everyday oil for shallow or deep frying. Made from rapeseed It has a relatively low saturated fat content so it partially cancels out the deep frying (that’s the science I tell myself). I also choose to believe the scientists that tell us that the Erucic Acid levels are negligible in human consumption, and that it is beneficial to reducing cholesterol and better for a healthy heart.

I find it has a milder flavour than Vegetable or Corn oil, so it’s my first choice. It’s only a frying oil and never use it for dressings or mayonnaises.

Canola enjoyed around the world but interestingly, gets its name from the country that developed the oil we know today: Canada (Canada Oil)

Dishes to cook using Canola Oil

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - coconut oil
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Coconut Oil

 

South East Asia, South India

Coconut oil has become a contentious subject in recent years – with two varying opinions on whether it’s good for you or bad for you. The oil is high in saturated fat, which many believe (as it’s a plant based fat) has a different biological make-up to other saturated fats (mainly from animals). Worryingly it’s therefore marketed as a healthy oil. It’s not.

Most International health organisations differ in opinion, claiming coconut oil has the same health warnings as using butter or beef dripping; which is not a great path to stay on health-wise.

That said, the flavour of coconut oil is magnificent! I use it 50% of the time when preparing South East Asian or South Indian curries that also feature gallons of coconut milk or cream (in for a penny, as they say). It enhances the coconut flavour no-end and has a tendency to split in sauces, giving that super authentic oily finish that floats to the top of any good curry.

I never claimed this blog was a health food blog!

Dishes to cook using Coconut Oil

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - sesame oil
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Sesame Oil

 

European, Middle Eastern , North African, Asian

Sesame oil is amongst my favourite oils to use. It has a completely intoxicating aroma when used cooked or uncooked. It will bring a distinctive nutty aroma and flavour to any dish. I mainly stick to Chinese or Japanese dishes, which it’s most commonly associated with, but the oil was actually first cultivated in ancient Pakistan by the Indus Valley Civilization 2600BC.

Sesame Oil is perhaps most associated with Chinese and Chinese influenced cuisine, lending its aroma to many of my favourite stir fries and stews.

Dishes to cook using Sesame Oil

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - ghee
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Ghee

 

India, Pakistan

Ghee is delicious. It’s butter that’s had all the dairy cooked out of it. But as we (should) know, a lot of butter isn’t good for anyone. The use of ghee in India is on a steady decline as their population gradually opt for healthier, unsaturated alternatives. I use ghee occasionally for curries that I want the full, authentic experience from and when I do I don’t hold back! It’s once or twice a year so I’m OK with it!

It has a wonderful nutty richness that brings a curry to life but is also magnificent to fry pakoras or bhajia in. If I’m feeling like a quick treat, I’ll fry an egg in it too. It’s very delicious.

Dishes to cook using Ghee

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - mustard oil
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Mustard Oil

North India, Pakistan, Bangladesh

Mustard oil is a potent oil derived from the mustard seed. As you would imagine it’s a spice laden oil which is used sparingly in Northern Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi foods. It’s a great way to add another layer of heat to curries and vegetables.

I also use it occasionally as a ‘tadka’ – finishing oil to many Indian dishes like Daal, whereby you fry combinations of whole spices, onions, and curry leaves and pour it over the dish at the end of cooking to add a new layer of flavour.

Dishes to cook using Mustard Oil

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - chilli oil
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Chilli Oil

 

China, Japan, Korea, Italy, Portugal, Middle East

Chilli infused oils are used around the world but most notably the oil is ubiquitous in China, especially in Sichuan cuisine. It’s also used commonly in Kore and less often in Japanese cuisine.

It is obviously a spicy oil and should be used with the correct amount of caution (or not as is the case in Sichuan food). It retains its chilli hit during cooking and has a fiery bite – so beware!

Interestingly in Calabria, Southern Italy, where the spicy chilli grows, an infused oil is popular as a finishing oil for simple pasta dishes to give a chilli kick. It’s delicious.

Dishes to cook using Chilli Oil

  • Chinese Wontons with Chilli Oil (coming soon)
  • Hummus Bin Arnabeet – Hummus with Cauliflower & Spiced Pine Nuts (coming soon)

Essential Vinegars

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - white vinegar
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White Vinegar

 

Worldwide

An abundant vinegar with lots of uses. Can be used to replace most vinegar recipe requests. It has a clean vinegar flavour that’ll give any dish requiring an acid sourness the right note. Also a good base vinegar for pickling vegetables, especially onions. I also use it for cleaning my windows!

Dishes to cook using White Vinegar

33 oils, vinegars and sauces every home cook should have - malt vinegar