What are Rick Moonen’s favorite ingredients?
Garlic. Very rarely do I cook a dinner or anything where I don’t use a lot of garlic. I love garlic. I think garlic is good for you. It’s a great flavor, cooked properly, and it’s not offensive. It just adds depth and flavor, and I just find that incredibly intriguing. I like Asian flavors, so I’m a big fan of fish sauce. I’ll put it places that you may not even think. Instead of adding just salt, I’ll add fish sauce because it brings an umami, a different depth that is intriguing — anchovies, that flavor.
All citrus — it’s an important part of bright flavors for me; it comes a lot from lemon, lime, grapefruit, yuzu, whatever I can put my hands on at the time. It could be clementines. Recently, I made an orange-and-saffron sauce for a fish I was cooking at home; it turned out great. Those are the basic go-to flavors that I rely on pretty heavily. I love the flavor of fennel, too — fresh or dried. It could be fennel seeds, star anise; that whole flavor it brings to food is something that I tend to go to fairly regularly. And citrus and fennel go great together as well, so there you go.