All photos by Liz Barclay (@liz_barclay)

There was a time when the word condiment conjured images of red and yellow squeeze bottles of ketchup and mustard, plus humdrum staples like mayonnaise jars and Tabasco.

Then, ethnic food went mainstream, and exciting new condiments started popping up on our plates and on menus around the country. Sriracha, in particular, is everywhere, but the condiment mania doesn’t stop there—chefs have started putting Korean gochujang in tacos, fish sauce on chicken wings, and piri-piri in sandwiches. So why shouldn’t you do the same at home?

Think about it: Every time you order takeout food from the local Chinese, Indian, or Greek place, you get a ton of little plastic containers of condiments that inevitably end up sitting in the back of your fridge for the next three months. It’s time to bone up on the basics—how is Portugese piri-piri any different from Korean gochujang? why does fish sauce smell so funky? what’s in tzatziki?—and figure out how to put those dips, spreads, and sauces to use in your kitchen.

Start your crash-course on the most common ethnic condiments to show up in your takeout bag, and find out how to use the leftovers in your own cooking.

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