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Listed below are some condiments used in Finnish cooking and in the recipes of this site.

See also:

Tomato paste

Tomato paste

Tomato paste is made by cooking tomatoes until the mixture is reduced into a thick paste with a strong, concentrated tomato flavour. The paste is usually sold in small cans or tubes. It is used in small quantities to season various foods and sauces.

Use a good-quality tomato paste in cooking, preserved with no other additives than salt.



Mayonnaise can be served with a variety of hot or cold dishes. Basic mayonnaise can be flavoured in many ways to create a multitude of different mayonnaise sauces.

Always use the best-quality mayonnaise in cooking. If the popular commercial varieties available in your country are very inferior (for example the regular Hellmann's mayonnaise which is much too salty, among other things), it is best to use homemade mayonnaise.


The condiment mustard is prepared of powdered or crushed dried mustard seeds (see below) mixed with various binding and flavour giving ingredients. The ingredients may simply be mixed together or cooked or simmered together until the mustard has thickened sufficiently. The flavour of mustard depends on the type of mustard seeds and flavourings used.

Mustard types

In picture above from left to right: French coarse-grained Dijon mustard, French Dijon mustard, Russian mustard, Finnish homemade sweet mustard, American yellow mustard.

  • The classic French Dijon mustard is made of black mustard seeds, verjuice (acidic juice of unripened grapes) and white wine. There are several differently flavoured varieties available. Other main French mustard types are the Meaux, Orléans and Bordeaux mustard.
  • English mustard is made of brown and white/yellow mustard seeds. English mustard is usually hotter than Dijon mustard. The best-known brand of English mustard is the prepared Colman's mustard and Colman's mustard powder (see below).
  • Finnish and Swedish mustards are made of a mixture of brown and white/yellow mustard seeds. They are usually rather mild and quite sweet, which is typical for Scandinavian mustards. However, Finnish mustards are less sweet than most Swedish mustards.
  • Russian mustard is made of brown and/or white/yellow mustard seeds. It is typically very hot (and very good!).
  • American mustard is made of black and white/yellow mustard seeds and turmeric for added colour and flavour.

Always use good-quality mustard in cooking and seasoning. Avoid American products like the French's Yellow Mustard which tastes horrible and is not fit even to be put on a hotdog...

See recipes for sweet Finnish mustard and other prepared mustards.

Mustard powder

Mustard powder

Mustard powder is ground from mustard seeds (see right). It can be used to prepare various mustards (see above) or as a seasoning in sauces, stews and other dishes.

One of the best-known brands is the Colman's mustard powder. Mustard is easy to prepare, and the flavouring variations are endless. In Finland, delicious homemade mustards prepared with care are a popular Christmas present.

Mustard seed

Yellow mustard seeds

Mustard seeds are gained from mustard plants (Brassica spp.). Different varieties are black mustard (Brassica nigra), brown mustard (Brassica juncea), and white/yellow mustard (Sinapis alba, pictured above).

Dried mustard seeds are sold whole or powdered (see left). They are used to prepare mustard and to flavour many, mainly oriental dishes. Because of their antibacterial qualities, whole mustard seeds are added to various fish preserves and vegetable pickles.

Horseradish paste

Horseradish paste

Horseradish paste is a pungent condiment made with grated horseradish mixed with vegetable oil, salt and preservatives. In Finland, the paste can be found sold packed in small tubes or jars.

The paste is easy to use to give horseradish flavour to various sauces and dishes, like the Finnish filled ham rolls appetizer. Horseradish paste can be replaced with fresh, grated horseradish or, in some cases, with Japanese wasabi paste (see right).

Wasabi paste

Wasabi paste

Wasabi paste is a pungent condiment resembling horseradish paste (see left). True wasabi paste is obtained from freshly grated stem of the wasabi plant, native to Japan (see below).

Since true wasabi is a very rare and expensive delicacy difficult to obtain, most of the commercially made wasabi pastes or powders contain ingredients like common horseradish, mustard powder, artificial food colouring and lower-grade parts of the wasabi plant instead of genuine wasabi.

Also called Japanese horseradish, wasabi paste is mainly served as a condiment for sushi, and it may also be used to replace horseradish paste in some dishes.

(Eutrema japonicum, Wasabia japonica)

Wasabi paste from true wasabi Wasabi is a semi-aquatic plant found growing in shady streambanks in its native Japan. Because of its demanding growing conditions and slow growth curve (up to two years) wasabi is a difficult plant to cultivate, making it very expensive and rarely obtainable outside Japan.

In picture on left: paste from freshly grated wasabi stem.

In recent years, some plant growers and farms have taken up the difficult challenge of wasabi cultivation in Europe, selling fresh stems, as well as other parts of the plant, like flowers and leaves, to be used in a multitude of imaginative ways in flavouring and garnishing savoury and sweet dishes. Wasabi can be used fresh or dried into powder.

Wasabi stems To obtain the best texture and flavour, fresh wasabi is grated using special fine-textured graters, called oroshigane, traditionally made from coarse sharkskin. Stainless steel or ceramic graters are frequently used instead of sharkskin.

In picture on right: fresh wasabi stems, the end of the one below cut and ready for grating.

Like in grating horseradish, grating wasabi starts a chemical reaction releasing allyl isothiocyanate, a compound responsible for the pungent taste of wasabi paste. Wasabi should be grated just before consuming, as its flavour and pungency will dissipate after about 15 to 20 minutes after exposure to oxyden.

Freshly grated true wasabi has a pleasantly pungent, almost sweetish flavour that is somewhat mellower and rounder than that of the imitation wasabi pastes and powders. Its colour can range from pale to brighter green, depending on the wasabi variety.

Roasted onion flakes

Roasted onion flakes

Roasted onion flakes are finely chopped onion fried until crisp and dry. Besides onions, (hydrogenated) vegetable oil, wheat flour and salt is used to prepare this product.

Roasted onion flakes are used in small quantities to bring crispness and piquant, roasted onion flavour to salads, sandwiches, dipping sauces, spreads etc. They are especially used sprinkled on various smørrebrød, the Danish open-faced sandwiches.

Anchovy paste

Anchovy paste

Anchovy paste is made of pounded anchovies, vegetable oil, salt and other flavourings. It is usually sold preserved in small tubes.

Although not tasting exactly the same, anchovy paste can in some extent be used to replace canned anchovies in various dishes. It may be used to flavour Caesar salad dressing or mixed with butter to make compound butter, used as a spread on canapés. Anchovy paste may always be replaced with thoroughly mashed, canned anchovies.

Soy sauce

Kikkoman soy sauce Traditional, naturally brewed soy sauces  —  whether Chinese (chiang-yu) or Japanese (shoyu)  —  are made using soybeans, wheat, water and salt only. The ingredients go through a natural fermentation process, lasting for several months, after which the resulting soy sauce is pressed out, filtered and pasteurised. Naturally brewed soy sauce has a mellow and aromatic, well-balanced flavour and its colour is dark reddish-brown and translucent.

Kikkoman soy sauce bottles There are several cheaper, chemically manufactured soy sauces on the market, like the brands Amoy, Blue Dragon, etc, that should be avoided.

Lacking the natural brewing process, these inferior products have to be supplemented with artificial colours and flavours. Non-brewed soy sauces have a harsh, chemical aroma clearly detectable in their flavour, and an opaque, darker colour.

Unless otherwise stated, only use the genuine, naturally brewed Japanese Kikkoman soy sauce in the recipes of this site, or its low-salt alternative, containing 43 % less salt than the original product (both pictured on right).


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