Anyway, I was eating at their house one time, and I commented on the fabulous salad. It was just some lettuce — Bibb, red leaf or something in that vein — but the dressing was terrific. Kristi explained that it was just good olive oil and Kong Yen sushi vinegar.
And ever since that day, nearly all of my salads have been dressed with two parts olive oil, one part Kong Yen. (I sometimes substitute sesame oil for olive oil.) And I never tire of it. The Kong Yen vinegar has a lovely hint of sweetness that offsets the acidity, and the result is a very light and refreshing flavor. I far prefer it to balsamic vinegar on my salads. And I frequently substitute Kong Yen in recipes that call for other kinds of vinegar.
I've tried using other sushi vinegars on my salad, but none of them match up to the Kong Yen. Another thing to note: Not all Asian and international markets carry Kong Yen, but I can typically find it at the InterAsian Market & Deli on Nolensville Road. (While you're there, pick up one of their fabulous banh mi sandwiches.)
So what's your culinary secret (or even not-so-secret) weapon? What food ingredients have revolutionized your world?
What else ya got?