- Test Kitchen Talks
- Season 1
- Episode 15
6 Pro Chefs Reveal Their "Secret Weapon" Ingredients
Eager to try these secret weapons for yourself? Shop for them here!
Mang Tomas All Purpose Sauce https://amzn.to/3hBHz2Q
Za'atar by Z&Z https://amzn.to/35mZkAG
Lee Kum Kee Black Bean Garlic Sauce https://amzn.to/3MlVQyM
Red Boat Premium Fish Sauce https://amzn.to/3HCjQKv
(Similar) Tamarind Concentrate https://amzn.to/3MhiVTj
Acid League Garden Heat Living Vinegar https://amzn.to/3MmEMJd
When you buy something through our retail links, we earn an affiliate commission.
Released on 03/02/2022
I would say a secret weapon ingredient to me
is something that has an element of surprise.
Oh my god. It has to be flavor packed.
It should leave people like, oh,
I want, questioning. What, what, what was that?
Today we're in a test kitchen
sharing our secret weapon ingredients.
Consider my curiosity peaked.
Yeah. Each of us has an ingredient that we love to use.
[Brad] And we're gonna show you why.
All right, Brad, what you think, man?
What's the secret ingredient.
It's gonna be something Filipino.
It's gonna have some Funk-Quoi to it.
And I'm excited.
All purpose sauce.
Oh Jesus Christ.
That's the sketchiest label I've never seen in my life.
So this is Mang Tomas. It's an all-purpose sauce.
And if you don't got this in your crib,
you ain't a real Filipino. I'm sorry.
It's good, huh?
I put this on everything.
So let's say Popeye's fried chicken.
[Brad] Let me see
[Harold] Late night
that real quick.
You [beep] use that sauce as dipping sauce.
You know what I'm saying?
[Brad] I just love the name, all purpose sauce.
So the story is,
there's a restaurant in the Philippines that served whole
pigs, like roasted in um, over coal.
They brushed it, you know, super nice, right?
Crispy skin. And this guy made a pork sauce called,
Mang Tomas which was made out of pork livers.
Cooked it down with some aromatics,
pureed it, and then made it into a dipping sauce.
It's probably delicious.
And so, it got so popular,
he said let's [beep] bottle that bitch.
Is that what this is?
Yeah. This is what it is.
I gotta taste this stuff straight.
Yeah. Give that a shake.
I ain't eating that top stuff, man, you gotta.
I gotchu you, baby.
Oh, look at that fake,
I could see it's a textural thing for me.
Like visually I'm like, oh God,
but it's sweeter than I thought.
Fried pork skin. Just imagine with that.
You know what I'm saying?
It is good. I mean.
Lumpia, lumpia would be good that,
you just dip lumpia in there.
It's nice. Yeah, it's sweeter than I thought.
It's super versatile. It's a lot sweeter than, than,
than most people would like. But I think, you know, for me.
With spicy food, forget it man.
It, it's really good, man.
As everybody knows, I'm from the south Bronx.
For me, growing up,
I would always put this on my bacon, egg, and cheese.
I would just slather this on there
and just eat it like that.
That's why I got this weight on me because of that.
Thanks for agreeing, man.
I'm really curious to try it with this man.
Let's give it taste bud.
On food, it's almost like, it's good.
It's almost like in the world of barbecue sauce.
Good call. Yeah.
It's a little bit more know of a sweep, yeah.
You know what it reminds me of, oh my God.
I'm talking 20 years ago,
we would go, there was a burger king in my hometown,
they turned me on these things called rodeo burgers.
And it's just a hamburger, but it had onion rings, bacon,
it had barbecue sauce. This sandwich with that.
Reminds you of it?
Oh my God.
That's what you call guys a cultural touchpoint.
I want about all that stuff. I mean,
I love the versatility of it and I like the idea of not only
being it a really cool all purpose sauce
as far as dipping or
you know, applying straight to something.
I think it'd be good on cheese steak.
I'm really interested in,
in trying to like cook with it too. As like.
Like we said, Mang Tomas all purpose. Mang Tomas.
All right. So underneath this beautiful dome, Herald,
I have one of my favorite secret ingredients.
I use it on all types of stuff. It's wonderful.
Drum roll please.
Thank you, atta boy, Harold.
You a fan?
You use Za'atar lot?
All the time, man.
I use it on fish, chicken, vegetables, hummus.
I mean you name it, man.
I love Za'atar.
I mean, listen, I'm no expert.
I'm from New Jersey, you know, but like everyone's
family's got a recipe.
Every region's got a variation on it.
There's Lebanese. There's Israeli there.
I'm sure there's far more than I'm even aware of.
Open that bad boy up.
It's a good one too. These guys do a real good job.
Do you have money in this company?
I, I have 30% equity in it.
You would think because
I promote the hell outta 'em all the time.
Yeah. I mean Mediterranean food.
This is great. I used to do ribs with Za'atar.
All the time.
It's, it's great, man.
I think it's a one stop shop, you know?
Yeah, I mean, what I love about it is it's versatility.
I mean, it's got that familiar kind of wild field thyme,
you know like,
Sesame's kinda hard to beat and then you got that like
Citrusy, punchy, like vibrant acid,
that would just assume that.
Or it would be nice on like a [beep] pita bread.
Like you dust the pita bread on top.
Dude, come on. Amazing eggplant with yogurt.
and basically anything outta Ohtal Angie's cookbooks,
You could put that stuff.
That's so true.
That all came from Ohtal Angie's cook book.
But, it's amazing man.
All jokes aside. It's just, it literally, it,
it is one of my favorite secret weapon ingredients.
I haven't had lunch yet too, Cuz.
So I mean, even if you didn't make it yourself,
say you went into the,
the deli and got a container of chicken salad.
You just wanted to zhuzh it up a little, you know,
break out your secret weapon, little za'atar.
And I think it just compliments it, it goes with the onion.
It goes with the celery. It goes with the herbs in there.
It goes with mayonnaise.
Gives it a nice crunch factor.
So like a little texture to it too.
Yeah buddy. Let's try it with the little,
little za'atar in it.
Don't feel shy,
I'm gonna put a little bit more right on top of mine.
[Harold] Yeah, let's do that.
Nothing like eating crunchy things on camera and just
awkwardly waiting for us to stop chewing.
Mm. Instant and you get that,
you get the um, the sumac.
The thyme and the Sesame pretty,
pretty familiar flavors. Right?
But that sumac mixed with it. That, and it's good sumac.
And it hits it.
It's almost like the first thing I tasted was it
almost like there was citrus in it now.
[Harold] It's really good.
You know, you get those other ones, it's like
Whatever, but this is [beep] nice.
Yeah. There, and yeah,
and you can go down a rabbit hole with this stuff.
I mean the za'atar, you know,
like I find myself using it probably more than any other
like spice, herby kind of mixture that I have in,
in my arsenal, which is rather large.
Well, like I said, this one's for you, Harold.
Thank you, sir.
Don't say I never gave you nothing.
All right. You're the best man.
Ohhh, I'm so excited to see this right now.
I feel like I'm like,
we've almost like built it up a little bit too much.
No, it's fine.
This is not gonna be some massive surprise.
Maybe it would just be a surprise that like I'm the one
advocating for it.
Do you know this stuff?
Yes. I love the fact that you pick this actually
cause I think ours are kind of like holding hands.
This is black bean garlic sauce or otherwise stated.
This is like one of many forms of black bean sauce.
And it uses a base of fermented black soybeans and then is
turned into a sauce with the addition of soy sauce.
And some, usually some like starches or thickeners.
I love using black bean, especially with stews, brazes,
you know, kind of stir fries.
It really like defines and like adds like tons of character
to a range of dishes.
I've had it before. I haven't had it in a while.
I would love to taste it
to kind of just like refresh my brain.
Maybe tasting it on food first.
I wanna taste it solo dolo first. Totally.
For me it's a little bit more versatile.
Like when it's in this form,
it just wants to play ball a little bit more readily.
I mean it's so salty.
It's so good.
It's so salty, but it is so like funky and rich.
It's very much rich.
I love using black bean,
especially with ingredients that might not have like tons of
flavor on their own. Like I'm thinking of things like tofu,
you know, with like some fermented black bean
is like really nice.
Putting like a couple teaspoons even of this
Into like a sauce
just used to kind of finish some stir fried veg.
So we figured like one way to kind of get at the power that
this has, is to do a version of like a dry fried green bean.
It's finished with a little bit of black bean garlic sauce
with a little bit of.
I love green beans.
That's really [beep] good.
Yeah, it's great.
That's also like really nicely seasoned just on its own.
It's a flavor enhancer, it enhanced all of the,
Aerobatics that we're in this on its own.
But with that bean paste,
the flavors are more married and pronounced.
Everything is like knit together.
Like that black bean like coats everything.
I mean, there's a very modest amount in there,
but you really feel it cause it builds this cohesiveness in
Yeah. It kind of just like
turned it up, you know?
Yep. I would even argue, okay,
that like you could strip the aromatics out of both of these
and still have a very compelling dish on your hands.
Just with the addition of this and the oil.
This is for me, this is a powerhouse ingredient.
Sometimes less is more,
but you can sure use it in a lot of things.
Um, I think
you could guess it.
Like, I feel like it's one of the things,
if I'm known for it on BA I'm gonna be known for it on BA
cause it's literally in almost everything I've done so far,
but I'm okay with that because it's the best.
Here we are.
I was like, but the bottle wouldn't fit under there.
I was wondering.
But they laid it down. They laid it down.
Fish sauce has been like in my life since day one.
I think it was probably in the baby bottle or something like
Like I would addicted to fish sauce if I don't have like,
I eat fish sauce every day.
It can vary from actually coming from fermented fish or
shellfish or a mixture.
Typically used in Southeast Asia or Asia.
I feel like this classic red boat is something that I like
to use just like across the board. You can use it in sauces.
You can use it in marinades.
As a condiment on the side,
that's like one of my favorite ways to do it.
Just straight up pour it on top of something.
Listen, you know, I did not grow up with fish sauce.
The first time I smelled it, I was like, wow.
You know, I mean, I know,
and I just didn't have like any context for it really.
Once you kind of discover this as like a culinary tool and
once you kind of like unlock its potential and once you
start to appreciate so many dishes that use it.
It's like yeah, you can't, you can't ignore it.
You can't ignore it. You notice when it's not there.
You need it.
Fish sauce adds a earthy umami, briny, salty,
funky greatness to whatever you're adding it into.
What did you do?
All right. So fish sauce eggs.
My Lola used fish sauce all the time when making scrambled
And like we eat it with rice, garlic fried rice, or like,
longaniza. it just makes for this really savory breakfast.
I pretty much use fish sauce to substitute for salt.
So as I'm scrambling them, I'll just throw a few douses.
I just whip 'em up with a fish off and then I cook them in
Are you concerned?
I mean, no, I'm, I'm consider my curiosity peaked over it.
The egg. Let's try it.
It's really interesting. Even just like smelling it,
it's like way more subtle than you think it's gonna be.
Yeah. It's not like.
The egg has so much fat.
You know what I mean? It's like, it's just getting,
just getting in front of that with a little like funky mommy
kind of note.
And it definitely makes me want to eat another bite.
Over the years. We've used fish sauce,
in certain applications where it's like,
just like the main point was just like, you know,
seasoned with fish sauce instead of salt,
never would've thought to apply it to eggs in that same way.
You know, just like carrying that thought across to like
To like something else that is a little bit less expected
is really cool.
Don't judge a book by cover.
That's my life tip and my food tip.
It's gonna taste great.
So my ingredient,
it's something that I use all the time.
It's, I would say pretty versatile.
It reminds me of growing up cooking with my family.
It's something that is found across many different cultures.
Do you want to know?
Yeah, I wanna know.
Okay. We have Tamarind Concentrate.
[Devon] Have you ever used Tamarind Concentrate?
[Kendra] Yes I have.
[Devon] Tamarind concentrate. It's really fun because
it's both sour and sweet.
Sometimes you can get it in that like brick.
It's a lot of labor to like brick it down.
But I think it's cool. Cause like,
if you wanna start it as like a jelly or a paste,
you can buy it in different forms.
If you also wanna buy it in the pod too,
those are really pretty and cute.
So I feel like it has range. I mean, it's also cool
cause I feel like there's Tamarind in India.
There's Tamarind in South America.
There's Tamarind in Caribbeans.
So like, when I think about that spread of dishes,
there are so many way, ways that you can use it.
For me, this is like equivalent to
what I might start a barbecue sauce with
or a marinade or if a dish calls for a roasted
pepper paste or a tomato paste, you know,
I might add sugar and cook it down,
so it becomes something more like treacle or molasses,
but I, it just has such a wide range and that feels
like a really great, great secret ingredient to have.
Oh my God.
What a delight.
I'm really excited to try this with you
because what is one of the easiest and most simple way
to get someone who maybe has never had that thing to,
to understand it?
And so, In this application, it is a Tamarind candy.
And to me it kind of functions the same way that, you know,
assaulted caramel would function.
We combine it with sugar, orange zests.
This version is like caramel.
It's like Caribbean cousin,
who just got back from vacation as like, you know,
got the beads in the hair.
Is like having a good time.
So let's try it on the vanilla.
Can I, can I add it?
Will you drizzle me?
I did not know I was gonna be able to eat ice cream today
and any day with a surprise ice cream is a good day.
Like unfortunately, no contest.
it's so good.
I need this recipe.
Well, if you go to ba.com.
I mean, listen, I'm a huge ice cream fan
and so taking something that's super simple and being like,
let's just like flip it on it's head a little bit
like, yes, we all have our favorite ice cream.
We have our topping,
but how can we just like, you know,
like nudge this into the direction of like what we wanna
eat and enjoy.
And it's such a simple application.
Like the sugar, the orange, the tamarind altogether,
I think just like makes it like something so much more
complex and fun to put on an ice cream.
I also think it's a really good
entry into tamarind.
If you've never had it.
Because even just taking one bite, you're like,
oh yeah, I can see
how this could be useful for me in my cooking.
Exactly. I also love the idea.
I'm like tamarind jam,
like this with like some butter and toast.
Or like as a layer between cakes.
Like slicked in between.
I love it. I want this to be mine.
My secret ingredient.
Like we can share it.
I'm going to steal yours.
No, we can share it.
We can share it.
My secret ingredient is something that I have at the front
of my pantry at all times
to pull out whenever I need just like an oomf,
So it doesn't apply everywhere in my cooking,
but where it does apply, it makes all the difference.
My secret ingredient is fancy vinegar.
Ooh. Also this packaging.
Specifically, my favorite vinegars are vegetal vinegars.
So like this guy's made with carrot juice, celery juice,
tomato juice, and jalapeno.
It smells kind of like a bloody Mary.
It does actually. Yeah, it has that like,
that spice to it for sure.
And, but it also has like that earthy vegetable moment.
It's got that acid and that sweetness of vinegar,
but then has this like rumble of vegetable produce goodness
Which is just so complex to me and makes the best salad
dressing you'll ever eat.
It's great in marinades.
It's great over grains,
amazing with meat and with vegetables.
I feel like it's a really great gateway into just like
making your food more playful and fun,
And like trying new things.
What are we gonna do?
We are gonna make this vinegar into a cocktail.
Oh my God.
So this is kind of like Tom Collins esque.
So gin, which usually it would be with lemon juice.
And a little bit of simple.
What's fun about the vinegar in place of the lemon is
citrus is very like OneNote. But I think with the vinegar,
it just like adds that savory layer on top of it.
So it's like.
So it's like a little starter.
Totally. And the color can you beat it?
It's very good. The VIN.
I really like it so much.
It's like a bloody Mary light. You know?
Honestly, I'm not a bloody Mary fan,
but this, I would definitely order for brunch.
To me, it's like,
Got this like kombucha note to it.
Because of like that, that vinegar brightness.
I really like this because it definitely offers acidity,
but you can also taste everything from the carrot to that
sort of like grassiness.
So just like, honestly, like by and large,
more complex than just squeezing some lemon into a cocktail.
And also like it's not a far jump from, I like,
even like this description of kombucha is like really
Like if you've had,
if you've had kombucha
basically in some ways pouring gin
and ice and simple syrup over it.
So I, I love that how like
easy it is to get from here to there not feeling
like it's a scary thing that's happening.
And it's like a little spendy.
It's a moment to like shell out, you know,
$12 for a bottle of vinegar,
which maybe you wouldn't usually do,
but in these moments where you wanna just like level up,
make it a little bit special. I think it's really worth it.
And the flavor doesn't compare to anything else.
My takeaway is start with a familiar base and you can add
something in that can be your own secret weapon to the mix.
And you can tell a lot about a person from their secret
ingredient you know.
These are not necessarily ingredients that are about
subtlety and flavor in temperament.
You'll just expand what that recipe
that you already know and love can do.
Food isn't about, it's my secret weapon, you know.
We share, right?
We love. Food is love.
If you have a secret ingredient out there,
share it to the world,
don't be that guy or that person or that grandmother.
We gotta go on the road. We gotta make it a show.
Secret weapons with Brad and Harold.
Yo, you don't want us on the road?
No man, or do you?
Yo, you kidding me?
It's a [beep] shit show.
We'll change the world Harold.
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