While following the recipe accurately is an important part of cooking, we must also learn how to improvise and get creative when the situation calls for it. That's because running out of ingredients happens more times than you can think. When it does, it's good to know that there are perfectly good substitutes for these ingredients:
- Brillant vinegar backups!
Vinegar is a kitchen staple whose uses go far beyond just being a sour condiment for barbecues and salads, as it also acts as a great emulsifier for a lot of recipes. But if you find yourself short on vinegar you can actually use lemon juice instead. The acidity found in the citrus behaves similarly to vinegar. Not only does it help add sour notes to any dish, but it also gives it a fruitier aftertaste. Other citrus fruit juices work fine as well, such as limes and calamansi. When it comes to making sauces, lemon juice may be too mild and mellow for most tastes. Instead you can use fortified white wine as your vinegar substitute for a richer and deeper flavor. This also goes wonderfully with stews, pastes, and marinades as the wine also adds a bit of depth and complexity brought upon by the alcohol it contains.
- Amazing shallot alternatives!
Shallots are an indispensable part of anyone’s pantry. Not to be confused with white onions which are larger and have a stronger taste, shallots are known for their smaller size, purple hue, and delicate flavor. It acts as the perfect ingredient to enhance any savory dish. As you may have guessed onions can act as a perfect substitute, specifically red and green onions as they are a milder variety of the onion family.
The second best substitute would be chopped garlic scapes which is the name given to the tender stem of a garlic plant. Typically light green in color, these mini stalks work the same way onion chives work. And speaking of onion chives, leeks and scallions, which are often interchangeable with onion chives, also work as a milder and more mellow flavor substitute for shallots.
- Superb sugar substitutes
Sweetness is an almost universally loved flavor and is one of the five basic tastes. It almost comes to no surprise that people just can’t get enough of that sweet sugary goodness. But of course it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Too much sugar in your diet can lead to fluctuating energy levels, insomnia, bloating, and even obesity. Luckily, there are quite a number of natural sugar substitutes that bring in the sweet flavor we all know and love minus the health risks. By far, the most popular all-natural sugar substitute is stevia which comes from shrub native to South America called the Stevia rebaudiana. Not only does it contain zero calories, but studies have shown that stevia helps in lowering blood sugar and insulin levels which makes it the ideal sugar substitute for people who suffer from or have a history of diabetes. Three more tasty sugar alternatives include honey, maple syrup, and molasses. All three of these have their own distinct tastes and contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, so it really comes down to your own personal preferences and intuition which one you would pick to sweeten your recipes with. And the same can be said for all the previously mentioned ingredient substitutions as well. Trust your gut and don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with every possible alternative. A good chef should be able to think on their feet after all.