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Friday 14 September 2012

"I Need WHAT?" - Buying Obscure Ingredients Online

In the kitchen of Sluttery HQ, we generally favour ingredients that we're got knocking around at the back of the cupboard or that can be easily found at the supermarket. Occasionally though, you need something more obscure to really do a recipe justice. I can't imagine Hazel's raspberry, rose and pistachop vacherin without edible flowers, but I equally can't imagine being able to pick them up in Asda.

Thankfully, the internet can provide for us.  First stop: Yotam Ottolenghi's newly launched online shop. Considering the number of unusual ingredients he uses in his recipes, he missed a trick by not doing this years ago. Za'atar, sumac, date syrup, courgette flowers - all delicious, all tricky to track down if you're not lucky enough to live next to a quirky little food market. The site is full of beautifully enticing photos - the one above is ground Iranian lime, and I want it even though I don't yet know what I'd do with it. Whether you want chilli flakes from around the world, pomegranate molasses or dried rose petals, they can provide at thoroughly reasonable prices - most items are £2-£4. Pick up some of their freshly made products while you're there. If you can resist the salt caramel and chocolate brittle, you're stronger than I am.

We told you about Souschef earlier this week, and they're seriously awesome. Scroll through their products and tell me at which point you went "oh my God, they do WHAT?" They had me at Miracle Frooties, the magical berries that make sour foods taste sweet. Souschef has a spectacular range of ingredients you never knew you absolutely needed, like Japanese mayonnaiseliquid smoke, Bolivian loaf sugar, mango vinegar ("drizzle over vanilla ice-cream" is the casual serving suggestion) or cactus. If you're getting a bit jaded in the kitchen, find yourself a new ingredient to get excited about cooking again.

Lakeland is great for ingredients that can encourage you to try cooking a different cuisine or baking something new - or perk up a glass of fizz, like their edible hibiscus flowers. Want to make sourdough bread without faffing about feeding a starter? Pick up five bags of sourdough bread mix for £6.49. Getting into Morrocan cooking? Get some ras el-hanout spice mix for £2.49. Their crystallised hot ginger will pep up your ginger chocolate pots, and if you're not convinced that their Keralan black pepper tastes better than the normal stuff, they'll give you your money back.

Looking for more specialist cuisines? Wing Yip can provide for all your Chinese and Oriental cooking needs, with sauces, oils and seasonings you'd struggle to find outside of Chinatown (and, oddly, a 4.6kg bottle of brown sauce if you're feeling very northern). Lupe Pinto's is a chile and spice shop that can cater to all your Mexican food whims. It also has a huge range of hot sauces with detailed descriptions. And the Asian Cookshop has, among other things, over 100 spices, so stock up on caraway seeds, amchur and black rock salt.


  1. What a fantastic idea! Thanks for can be incredibly difficult finding hisbiscus flowers that open in your champagne glass,and next time I need NZ Green lipped mussels I'll know where to go. Vix x

  2. Amazing and insightful stuff as usual thanks gals! It's great to know that I can have some delicious Ottolenghi ketchup delivered straight to my door all the way 'up north' in Liverpool! I could 'go mad' buying loads of stuff on these sites (I especially want the Modernist Cuisine collection....)

  3. I LOVE this post...Instead of writing a Christmas list this year I think I will simply hand out the links in this article :) good work girls!

  4. If you're after spices and spice mixes, try . They also do recipe kits. They are based in Bath and operate by mail order (unless you go to Bath Christmas Market where you can find them in person). I love the mixes and ideas they offer and the herb and spice drawer always has something from The Spicery in it. Give them a try

  5. Amazing! I am in desperate need of Japanese mayo after I did a sushi class. It's so tasty.


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