Saturday, June 10, 2023

Unpopular ingredients that chefs should use more often (s-z)

This article is a final part of three to the previous two articles discussing unpopular ingredients.

Unpopular ingredients


Sturgeon is a family of fish that can be traced back to the Triassic period. Most types of sturgeon are thought to be extinct, though if any still remain they likely can be found in subtropical lakes and rivers as well as Eurasian and North American coastlines. If you’re lucky enough to catch yourself a sturgeon then I would have you look to the following recipe for inspiration and cooking guidance.

Unpopular ingredients


You may be lucky enough to find this unique fruit in your grocery store but it may be labeled as a honeybell. They are a hybrid fruit that was created by crossing a mandarin orange with pomelo or grapefruit, hence the name tangelo. They are easy to distinguish from typical oranges simply due to the protruding ”nipple” or stem-like bump on their surface. They have a tangy, juicy, yet tart taste to them. If you’re lucky enough to snag a few of these hybrid fruits then I recommend you give the following recipe a try!


Uszka is basically a Ukrainian pierogi. They are a common food eaten on Christmas eve in the Ukraine. They are more of a twisted shape compared to the pillowy half-moon shape of a typical pierogi. Uszka can be filled with a mixture of ingredients which typically include wild mushrooms or minced meat. An example recipe can be found below.

Velvet bean

This tropical bean goes by many names including monkey tamarind, lacuna bean, or cowage. They are found in tropical areas of Africa or Asia. These beans can be cooked and eaten but they contain L-DOPA which can cause reactions in some people that are sensitive to it. If a chef were to include velvet beans in their recipes then they should include the description of the bean as well as the possible effects that someone could have if they are sensitive to it. This description would be similar to noting the use of nuts or lactose in a recipe for those that may have an allergy or sensitivity to them. An example recipe can be found below.

Unpopular ingredients

Wild boar

Wild boar is known as one of the widest-ranging mammals, as they are found in many areas around the world. This may make you think that they are not an unpopular ingredient, but they are not as widely used as you might think. But, they should be more popular as an ingredient as wild boar meat is considered leaner than the typical pork we are accustomed to. Below is a recipe using wild boar that would work well in a restaurant setting or even at home!

Unpopular ingredients

Xinomavro Grapes

The best way to describe these grapes is a Greek red wine grape. They are specifically found around Greece and some are grown in China. The red wine produced from these grapes contains high amounts of tannins and relatively high acidity. More about these Greek red wine grapes can be found at the link below.

Yu Choy

This is an Asian green vegetable that is often used as an ingredient in stir fry, soups, and salads. An example of how to cook with this Asian green vegetable can be found in the link below.


This is a unique item on the list as it isn’t so much of an unpopular ingredient as it is a delicious ingredient made and used by a food chain. This food chain is known for making various chicken wings and chicken tender recipes using their famous Zaxby’s sauce. A copycat recipe for this sauce is found below so you too can have Zaxby’s chicken at home!

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Bailey Woodean
Bailey Woodean
I have been a freelance writer for more than 4 years, a mom for more than 2 years, and a wife for just under a year. I am currently a student in a cooking and catering program with the intention of expanding my knowledge of the culinary business. I then plan to take this knowledge to properly write about and critique restaurants and food. Writing to you from Niagara Falls, NY, thanks for joining me on the ride!


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