The secret about secret ingredients is that they're usually two things—obvious and available. They have many lives in many dishes and pump up the volume on otherwise plain recipes. Most importantly, they don't stand out in a dish, but help the dish itself stand out instead.
These are the CKC staff picks for secret ingredients. (Psst...we want to know yours, too!)
Gloria, Director of International Sales
"Laver (seaweed). I use it often as a garnish for fried rice, kal-guksu, chon-guksu, rice cake soup, bulgogi on rice, etc. When you have nothing to eat, it is a perfect side dish for a bowl of warm rice."
[Buy it here: Jayone Seaweed, Roasted and Lightly Salted, 24 Count]
"Wholly Ganjang and sugar mixed together. This is good for braising fish, meat, and vegetables. This is a tip from Grace that I use all the time."
"Unsweetened coconut flakes have become something of an obsession. I put them on cereal and chia seeds. I toast them up for an ice cream topping. I coat shrimp with them and fry away. I've even put some in my coffee grounds before brewing. I'd say they elevate dishes, but what they actually do is give them depth."
"Sriracha makes everything better!"
[Buy it here: Huy Fong Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce, 28 Oz]
"Not because I am Canadian, but pure maple syrup is great in many things, including salad dressings and seasonings for any meat or fish."
Young, Food Stylist
"I always put something green on top of a dish, whether it's to make it look nice, or because something's just missing. I chop green onion two ways and keep them in my refrigerator. They're the final touch."