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Table of contents :
Herbs: Fresh or Dried?
Cuts, Blends & Bundles
BLENDS & BUNDLES
Buying, Storing & Preserving Herbs & Spices
FREEZE FRESH HERBS
OIL OR VINEGAR INFUSIONS
REFRIGERATE FRESH HERBS
Tips & Tricks
COAXING THE ESSENCE
Growing at Home
Marinades & Rubs
Chef's Guide WORLD’S #1 QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE
From aromatic properties to classical and cutting-edge pairings, discover the essential agents used to create flavor profiles of both Western foods and emerging food scenes of Asia, Latin America, and beyond.
Herbs: Fresh or Dried?
●● Herb: Leaves of an aromatic plant, usually from a temperate climate. ●● Spice: Seeds, bark, root, flower, bud, resin, or any other part of an aromatic plant, usually from a tropical climate. ●● Blend: A combination of herbs and spices, plus other ingredients, used to season foods; many commercial blends have added salt. ●● Condiment: A combination of herbs, spices, seasonings, fruits, and vegetables (usually moist or liquid); used at the table. ●● Extract: Pressing or distilling of a fruit, nut, seed, or bean (e.g., vanilla, lemon, anise, almond) to draw out flavors. ●● Infusion: An oil or vinegar into which herbs or spice flavors have been transferred through steeping, cooking, or puree. ●● Marinade: Provides flavor and tenderizes meat; accomplished by placing foods in an acidic mixture (citrus juice, wine, or vinegar) flavored with herbs and spices for 30 minutes or longer (use a glass or plastic container). ●● Oil: A liquid fat that comes from animals or plants. Plant oils are derived from vegetables, fruits, and nuts such as corn, peanuts, safflower, and olives. Generally used as a cooking medium, oil may also impart flavors (as with olive oil). Herbs and spices can be added to oils. ●● Rub: Spice marinade in paste or powder form, applied by massaging onto an item to flavor it. ●● Sprig: A branch of fresh herb with leaves still attached. ●● Vinegar: From the French vin aigre, “sour wine”; made from apples (cider), rice, nuts, or grapes (wine). This acidic liquid may be added for flavor or as a preservative and can be used for marinades; many vinegars are seasoned.
●● When to add ––Dried herbs are added in the early stages of a recipe, while fresh herbs are typically added toward the end of cooking. ––Fresh leaves have volatile essential oils whose flavor dissipates more quickly, while dried herbs need time to coax out their full flavor. ●● How to process ––Fresh herbs can be used as whole leaves, such as swirling basil leaves into marinara sauce for the last few minutes of cooking. Otherwise, they are chopped or pulverized with a knife, mortar, or machine. ––Dried herbs should be rubbed between two fingers before adding to expose the essential oils sequestered inside the cellular structure of the leaves. ●● Cuts for fresh ––Waxy, resinous, or robust leaves like rosemary, thyme, savory, and even parsley can withstand the
CURRIES • The term “curry” means an herb/spice mixture or paste. • In India, “masala” is the term for spice blend. The British formulated a masala based on the spices of the city of Madras (now Chennai), manufactured it in England, and marketed it as “Madras curry powder.” It has been a stand-in for homemade blends ever since, even in India. Variants with different ratios and spices exist throughout the Indian diaspora, including Jamaica (heavy in allspice), Guyana, and Indonesia. • In Thailand, pastes made from the “holy trinity” of lemongrass, kaffir lime, and galangal, pounded with chilies, herbs, and spices, form the foundation of most dishes. Originally made in a mortar, these are now mostly made using the food processor. Fry the paste in coconut oil briefly before adding the main ingredients of the dish, simmering, and finishing with coconut milk. • The Japanese have fallen in love with extra-mild curry sauces made of curry powder-laced stocks thickened with roux (cooked flour and butter) to form a thick gravy. It’s napped over fried breaded cutlets (“katsu”) and rice.
Cuts, Blends & Bundles CUTS
Whole herbs and spices are usually reduced to smaller bits, unless used as a garnish. ●● Chiffonnade: French word meaning “to crumple.” ––Roll up the leaves into a loose cigar shape, lay them on a cutting board, and draw the knife crosswise of the roll at about 1/4” intervals. ––Use for basil, spinach, and other leafy ingredients that will be used as a colorful garnish. This is a great first step for chopping or mincing. ●● Chop: Leafy herbs may be cut into small bits with a sharp knife. ––Chiffonnade first, then chop or mince. ––Use for parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary, and oregano. ●● Grate: Especially popular for whole nutmeg, ginger, and allspice. ––Use Microplane or a similar rasp-like device, or the finest holes on a box grater.
BLENDS & BUNDLES
Adobo: Seasoned salt with garlic powder and black pepper. Baharat: Powder of equal parts black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom seeds, dried mint, freshly grated nutmeg, and ½ part ground cinnamon. Berbere: 5 dried red chilies (e.g., arbol), ½ tsp. fenugreek seeds, ¼ tsp. allspice berries, ¼ tsp. ajwain or caraway seeds, ½ tsp. black peppercorns, ½ tsp. cardamom seeds, 3 cloves, ½ tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg, and ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon. Blackening mix: Black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, oregano, paprika, salt, and thyme. Bouquet garni: A bundle of herbs added to a soup, stew, or stock. Typical ingredients are thyme sprigs, parsley stems, and bay leaf. Cajun seafood boil: Allspice, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, clove, coriander, dill seed, and mustard seed; add ½ c. to 2 gal. boiling water, then add crab, crayfish, or shrimp. Chaat masala: Grind 1 tsp. each cumin, black 1
repeated strokes of mincing, which releases their oils but doesn’t ruin their color and taste. ––Delicate, tender herbs, such as basil, chives, tarragon, and chervil call for cleaner cuts with a sharp blade. Shear them against the board with a honed knife, using a shredding action called chiffonade, or slicing through them with only one pass to prevent bruising, which would cause blackened leaf edges and a watery, barnyard flavor to emerge. ●● Strategies for dried: Since aromatic oils of dried herbs are oil soluble, add them in the first stage of cooking, allowing them to “sweat” their flavor into onions, leeks, celery, and carrots as they cook. Note: An exception is bay leaves, which should be added midway through cooking, as overcooking releases bitter elements. pepper, ajwain or caraway seeds, and sea salt; 1 tbsp. amchoor or sumac; ¼ tsp. asafoetida; ½ tsp. dried mint; and ½ tsp. cayenne. Chermoula: Moroccan paste for seasoning fish, made by grinding 2 tsp. cumin seed, 1 bunch (1 oz.) cilantro, 3 garlic cloves, 1 tbsp. paprika, ¼ tsp. saffron, 1 tbsp. lemon juice, 2 tbsp. olive oil, and 1 tsp. sea salt. Use a food processor or mortar. Chesapeake bay seasoning (such as Old Bay): Grind together 2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. each cayenne, celery seed, paprika, mustard seed, and black pepper with 2 crumbled bay leaves and ¼ tsp. allspice. Chinese five-spice: Star anise, cinnamon, fennel, Szechuan pepper, and clove. Curry powder: May include varying proportions of chilies, coriander seeds, cumin, mustard, peppercorns, curry leaves (an Indian herb), ginger, fenugreek, turmeric, anise, poppy seeds, cinnamon, and cardamom. Fines herbes: Parsley, chives, tarragon, and chervil. Garam masala: Grind together 2 tbsp. cardamom, 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. mace, 2 tsp. black peppercorns, and 1 tsp. cloves. Herbes de Provence: Basil, fennel seed, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme, and lavender. Jamaican jerk: In a food processor, form a paste of 4 jalapeño or serrano chilies, 4 scallions, 3 shallots, 3 cloves garlic, 1 in. piece ginger, 3 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, 1 tbsp. ground allspice, 2 tsp. ground black pepper, 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. ground nutmeg, ½ tsp. ground cloves, and 3–4 tbsp. vegetable oil. Pesto: In a food processor, make a coarse paste of 1 tsp. chopped garlic, 1 bunch basil leaves (1 oz.), ½ c. olive oil, ½ c. toasted pine nuts, and 1 tsp. salt. Fold in ½ c. grated parmesan cheese. Alternative pesto can substitute other nuts and herbs such as pistachios and mint. Poultry seasoning: 2 tsp. ground sage, 2 tsp. ground thyme, 1 tsp. ground marjoram or oregano, 1 tsp. ground rosemary, ½ tsp. ground nutmeg, and ½ tsp. ground black pepper. Pumpkin pie spice: 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, 1 tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. ground cloves, and ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg. Sachet d’epices: In a small square of cheesecloth, tie together 1 bay leaf, 10 black peppercorns, 3 parsley stems (no leaves), 2 cloves garlic, and 1 large sprig of fresh thyme. Add to soups or stocks halfway through cooking. Za’atar: 2 tbsp. sesame seeds, 1 tbsp. ground sumac, 2 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. dried oregano, and ½ tsp. salt.
neutral oil such as canola. This oil can be used immediately, or kept refrigerated for two weeks. ●● Store fresh ginger by immersing it in white wine in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. ●● Dried spice oils or vinegars activate through gentle heat. Warm ground spice in oil or vinegar until hot but not simmering (160°F); allow to cool. Use within two months. Good choices include paprika oil and tarragon vinegar.
Buying, Storing & Preserving Herbs & Spices Purchase only what you will consume in under one year. Extra-large vessels of spice may seem a bargain over small packages, but once spices lose freshness, their potency is gone. You may feel compelled to finish the can, even if your dishes are becoming bland or insipid. ●● Ground dried spices remain potent for 1 year if kept tightly sealed in a cool dark cabinet. ●● Whole dried spices retain their potency much longer, between two and five years, depending on the spice (large pieces like whole nutmeg or cinnamon stick last longer than small seeds like cumin or caraway). ●● Whole or ground dried herbs fade quickly, losing potency within six months to one year.
REFRIGERATE FRESH HERBS
●● When herbs come in plastic “clamshell” containers, keep them in that until use. ●● Loose herbs are kept in a moistened paper towel for storage in the crisper drawer of a refrigerator. Use within 1 week for best potency. ●● Fresh chilies retain freshness when refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Once pounded into curry pastes, they may be kept for up to 3 months.
• Tie string around stems. • Hang them upside down in a cool, dry, dark place for about 2 weeks. • Crush or chop them to the desired size and place them in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
FREEZE FRESH HERBS
●● Chopped herbs ––Rinse, blanch, then chop or purée them in a blender with a little water. ––Freeze in ice cube trays for use in soups, sauces, and stews. ––Calculate a standard mixture for your spaghetti sauce or stew recipe so that 1 cube will equal enough herbs for your standard batch. ●● Whole herbs ––Blanch leafy herbs quickly by pouring boiling water over them, then plunging them in ice water to protect the color; dry well and place in zipper bags, squeezing out all the air with your hand and sealing. ––Do not thaw herbs before using them, as they may turn black; break off needed amount, chop whole (frozen), and add directly to the recipe. ●● Instant sauces ––Add selected herbs to homemade chicken, beef, or vegetable broth and freeze in ice cube trays. ●● Pesto ––A combination of basil, garlic, and pine nuts in olive oil (other herbs may be substituted as desired); may be frozen for up to 6 months in freezer bags.
• Remove leaves from stems. • Loosely separate leaves and sandwich them between 2 layers of paper towels. • Microwave them on high for 30 seconds, then turn the package and reheat on high for 30 seconds. Repeat for about 2 to 3 minutes until leaves reach the crumbly stage.
• Remove leaves and place on a soft cotton or paper towel in a large pan. • Place pan in the oven at a very low temperature (< 200°F) with the door ajar for about 1 hour. • Test for dryness and continue heating as necessary (i.e., when leaves are crinkly and break easily).
Stacking tray method
OIL OR VINEGAR INFUSIONS
• For drying large amounts of herbs, construct several frames with a nonmetal window screen. • Place herbs loosely on screens; layer screens about 2” apart with slats of wood. • Place in a cool, dry, dark place for about 2 weeks.
Fresh herb oil or vinegar extends usability of herbs for weeks to months: ●● Resinous herbs like rosemary, thyme, or oregano can simply be submerged in olive oil or wine vinegar for two weeks of steeping. Keep refrigerated for up to two months. ●● Tender herbs like basil, tarragon, chives, or cilantro can be pureed in a blender with a
Tips & Tricks ●● Doubling (increasing volumes) requires that you taste the dish before increasing amounts of herbs or spices (unless baking). Spices don’t increase proportionally. ●● Flavor infusion takes somewhat longer when using dry herbs; add them to the recipe earlier than fresh herbs; presoaking herbs in a warm liquid (wine, water, stock, or oil) helps release more of their essence. ●● Flavor intensity is increased when herbs are dried; use about ¹/³ the amount of dry herbs when a recipe calls for fresh herbs. ●● Ingredients and their measures are usually written in a specific order: ––1 c. chopped basil means leaves are chopped first, then measured. ––1 c. basil, chopped means measure the basil first, then chop. ●● Pure extracts, such as vanilla, contain alcohol, which is lost during cooking; keep the bottle cap tight to prevent premature evaporation (hard-to-open caps loosen easily when placed under hot running water for a few seconds). ●● Release more flavor in dried herbs and spices by bruising them: ––Rub herbs and spices between your hands or quickly swirl them in a mortar and pestle. ●● Whole spices are preferable; chop, grind, or grate them just before adding them to the recipe. ●● Out of vinegar? 2 tsp. lemon (or lime) juice = 1 tsp. vinegar
Salt performs three culinary functions: It preserves food from spoilage, reveals flavors in food that our palates are unable to perceive in its absence, and protects color, flavor, and nutritional value in green vegetables. It’s usually added incrementally, at different stages of cooking. Chefs recognize 2 categories of salt: cooking salt and finishing salt. ●● Cooking salt: Table salt or kosher salt, which is generally mined from land-based sources. It is inexpensive and has little flavor of its own other than saltiness. It’s appropriate for salting cooking water for pasta and vegetables, where it raises the PH to mild alkaline levels, protecting green vegetables from going drab. ●● Finishing salt: Has special flavor properties such as briny tastes from the sea, mineral qualities, or flavorings like truffle or lemon. It’s expensive and is added at the end of cooking or at the table. Professionals rarely use salt to create a salty taste. With rare exceptions, such as pretzels, the goal is to make items taste more like themselves—fries to taste more potato-y, steak to taste more beefy, etc. Salt doesn’t cause cardiovascular disease, but it can exacerbate it. To limit the amount of salt in dishes, don’t add salt incrementally during cooking, but only at the end. While depth of flavor might be sacrificed, less salt will be needed to reveal flavors. For those who cannot use any salt at all, use 3 strategies for flavor: 1. Concentrate flavors: Reduce dilution of sauces, soups, and stews by simmering longer. 2. Contrast flavors: Finish dishes with lemon, vinegar, or some other contrasting flavor to make the natural taste of the dish stand out. 3. Complement with herbs and spices: Introducing new, pleasing essences of herbs and spices brings complexity of flavor that can take the place of strength of flavor.
CHILI POWDERS • Cayenne, paprika, chili powder, and crushed red pepper flakes are all made from various cultivars of the capsicum annum genus. Smoked chilies, such as chipotles (smoked, dried jalapeño) and pimentòn (smoked Spanish paprika) also hail from this family. Some brands of chili powder also include garlic and salt. 2
Culinary Herbs Name
FINE/TENDER Juicy summer vegetables, poultry, and grains
Fresh, dried flakes
Bruises easily; chiffonade for longest staying power.
Broad leaf of mint family
Anise (Asian varieties) to grassy (Mediterranean varieties) aroma
Lacy delicate leaf of carrot family
Sweet, light, fruity anise
Fish, seafood, and poached eggs
Should be used fresh
Some stem is used with the leaves; pairs well with chives
Long, slender leaves of the onion/lily family
Understated garlic essence; milder than other onion relatives
Dairy, fish, eggs, and in combination with grassy herbs
Fresh is best, also frozen and dried
Keeps color for a long time; excellent garnish. Snip with scissors for clean cuts.
Tender leaves and stems of coriander plant
Lemony and fruity
Spicy, pungent dishes; East Asian and Latin American cuisine
Filament-like leaves of the parsley family
Juicy, vegetal, and grassy with a hint of leather
Vegetables, cucumbers, and assertive oily fish
Fresh and dried (sold as dill weed)
Some people have a genetic trait that makes them perceive cilantro as “soapy” tasting. Stems and root are typically used with leaves. Slice across leaves, going through only once to retain a fresh taste.
Jagged, pointed leaves high in menthol
Spring and summer vegetables Fresh, dried (dried is used and fruits. Peas, eggplant, mostly as herbal tea, but also carrots, zucchini, and fruit in Middle Eastern dishes) salads. Classic with lamb
Slender, ribbon-like leaves of Central Asian origin
Sweet, cooling, and mildly numbing properties. Spearmint is the most common and easy to grow. Pine, anise, and licorice essence
Broad, elongated, Tart, tangy, and spinach-like leaves of lightly astringent English and French gardens
Stiff, pointed, oblong leaves of the bay laurel tree, an Mediterranean evergreen Stiff, woody South Asian grass with a bulbous bottom end
Lightly floral, with a sharpness and slight bitterness like oregano
Spade-like, resinous, abrasive leaves of the mint family. It is of northern European origin, but is now essential to Greek, Italian, and Spanish cookery. Dark green, waxy leaves of the carrot/ celery family
Grassy, savory, pungent, and warm with notes of camphor and a bitter finish
Mediterranean, Mexican, and Latin American cuisines
Grassy, pleasantly bitter, and herbaceous. Darkest leaves add meaty notes. Heightens other flavors in dishes
Widely used globally. Pastas, stews, soups, egg dishes, stuffing, sautés, marinades, garnishes, and dressings. Used on its own as a salad, especially in the Middle East
Fresh—dried versions hold little potency or appeal for most cooks.
Potatoes, lamb, poultry, onions, eggplant, breads and cookies, and game
Fresh both for cooking and aromatic garnish. Dried flavor is strikingly similar to fresh.
(Allium schoenoprasum) (Coriandrum sativum) (Anethum graveolens) (Mentha x piperita)
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
(Petroselinium crispum neapolitanum)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Citrusy, floral, fruity, and round
Stiff, waxy needles of Piney and resinous perennial evergreen with camphor and in the mint family nutmeg notes
Combines well with pistachios and olive oil for North African-inspired pesto
Fish, poultry, and egg dishes. Main flavor of sauce béarnaise and a classical accompaniment to roasted red meats
Fresh (wilts quickly and loses Often called “French” tarragon to aroma with long cooking) and distinguish it from the rougher, less dried (infused in reductions elegant Russian cultivar before incorporation to dishes)
Lentils, oily fishes, shellfish, poultry, and light meats
ROBUST/RESINOUS Stews, wintery and warming sauces, and stocks; Arabinspired dishes, Filipino cooking, and French and Italian cuisine Chicken, pork, beef, vegetables, noodles, and seafood; Thai, Malay, Singaporean, and Indian cuisines
Rich in vitamin C; excellent addition to chilled summer soups
Dried is most common. Fresh leaves are milder and benefit from “bruising” with a blunt object to release flavor.
Wreaths of bay laurel have signified honor since ancient Greek times, distinguishing “laureates” worthy of praise. Used in classical sachet d’epices and bouquet garni Fresh stalks are used from Part of Thai “holy trinity” along white bottoms up to light green with galangal and kaffir lime. mid-section. Require Essential to many Southeast Asian “bruising” or crushing to curry pastes and dishes. Called release full flavor. Dried is “citronelle” in France. Fragrance used in sauces and stews. repels mosquitoes. Dried is most common with Closely related to marjoram meats, cheeses, grilled fishes, (usually interchangeable). Greek and tangy tomato dishes. Fresh varieties are more assertive than is best in dressings, infused Mexican styles. oils, and stuffing.
The broad leafy Italian variety is more flavorful. Curly American cultivar is more decorative. Unlike most fresh herbs, parsley is often added at the beginning of long-cooked dishes for vegetal flavor. Stems are used in classical sachet d’epices and bouquet garni. Combined in “Herbes de Provence” along with thyme, rosemary, lavender, and bay leaves
Velvet-covered broad, oblong, dusty-green leaves of the perennial northern Mediterranean shrub in the mint family Tiny, elliptical gray-green leaves of Mediterranean and Asian origins
Strong, medicinal, warm, oniony, bitter, and balsamic
Fried and rich foods, stuffing, poultry, pork, sausages, pastas, focaccia and other breads, browned butter sauces, autumn squashes
Fresh leaves are surprisingly potent, used chopped or whole in baked, simmered, and fried dishes. Dried or “rubbed” can easily overwhelm, so use very sparingly.
Less common varieties such as purple sage and pineapple sage are milder in taste. Sage is a key ingredient in poultry seasoning.
Warm, savory, earthy, and sometimes minty caraway notes with a slight camphor essence
Poultry, roasted meats, cheeses, mushrooms, game, and root vegetables
Fresh is added mid-way through cooking of stocks, soups, stews, and sauces. Dried is added at the beginning of long-cooked casseroles and ragouts.
Straight stems of English varieties are easiest to strip of flavorful leaves. Wispier French cultivars are often added in bundles called “bouquets,” which release their leaves during cooking, with stems being removed at the finish. Lemon thyme, wild thyme, and creeping thyme are the most popular of the many specialty varieties.
Culinary Spices Name Allspice
Unripened fruit of an evergreen tree
Cakes, pastries, sweet baked goods, Jamaican jerk seasoning, moles, and Portuguese pork dishes
Whole berries and ground
If unavailable, substitute equal parts cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.
Small tailed seed of the parsley family
Reminiscent of a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, juniper, and pepper Licorice essence used for sweet or savory foods
Whole and powdered
Prized for its digestive aid properties
Orange-red seed of South American evergreen
Slight peppery flavor with light bitterness
Cookies, such as Italian pizzelle and German pfeffernüsse, liqueurs, gingerbread, and Indian soups and fish dishes Latin American and Jamaican cuisine; yellow rice
Fruit of the perennial Indian bush in the ginger family
Fruity, camphorous, flowery, and medicinal
Fruit of the Central Tart, pungent, lightly American chili pepper smoky, and hot plant; a nightshade
Celery Seed (Apium graveolens)
Seeds of the European Grassy, herbaceous, vegetable in the and parsley-like, with parsley family a strong flavor of the familiar stalk
See “Chili Powders” sidebar, p. 2
Bark of an evergreen tree of the laurel family
Asafoetida (Ferula assa-foetida)
Caraway (Carum carvi)
Whole, powdered, and Mainly used for its brilliant paste yellow-orange coloring. Flavor is faint. Sizzle seeds in oil or soak in water to release pigment. Dried resin of the Garlicky-oniony taste Indian pickles, legumes, and Ground, as large Loses its sulfurous-smell when giant Afghan-Iranian vegetable dishes chunks called “tears,” cooked, taking on a pleasant perennial in the fennel and smaller bits called garlic taste. Some Indian religions family “lumps” prohibit consumption of garlic or onion. Flower buds (and Piquant, salty, savory, Beef tartare; sauces such as Brined in vinegar and Extra-small buds, called sometimes fruits) of and lemony with hints remoulade, puttanesca, and dry-cured in salt; “nonpareil,” are usually added the deciduous of mustard browned-butter meuniere; fish; usually rinsed before late in cooking. The teardropMediterranean bush chicken; salt cod use shaped “caper berry” makes a dramatic, flavor-defining garnish. Rice-shaped seed of Warm, citrusy, and Breads, cabbage, sausages, Whole seeds Possibly the first spice used in the parsley family leathery cheese, and soups; German and Europe, dating to Neolithic times. Hungarian cuisine It is essential to corned beef.
Warm, sweet, and woody
Sweet and savory dishes; Indian, Whole pods and Scandanavian, and Middle ground Eastern cuisines; flavored teas, pilafs, fish, shellfish, duck, lentils, and meats Hollandaise; salsas; taco Ground fillings; pickling brines; and rubs and marinades, including Cajun blackening spice
Green pods are usually freshest. Another variety, black cardamom, is more warming and bold.
Russian and Northern European cuisines; slaws, pickles, mustards, chutneys, salads, and breads
Use sparingly, as its pleasantly herbal flavor can become bitter and overpowering with excess.
Dried whole and ground
Fruits, sweet baked goods, Sticks, ground, and North African tagines (stews) flaky Mexican bark and b’stilla (savory squab pie), Mexican chocolate drinks, and Indian masalas and curries 4
Main ingredient in the bodydetoxifying “Master Cleanse.” Fresh, whole cayenne is used in Asian and Indian curries.
Often confused with its close relative, cassia, which is spicier but can be used interchangeably. Cassia is often called Vietnamese or Chinese cinnamon.
Culinary Spices (continued)
Rough, brittle flower buds of the Indonesian evergreen
Sweet, floral, warm, and fruity
Crushed red pepper flakes
Dried fruit of Italian pepperoncino, cultivar of chili
Citrusy, fruity, and very hot
Sickle-shaped seed of Meaty, warm, nutty, Egyptian origin in the sharp, and peppery parsley family
Rice-grain shaped Anise-licorice seeds of the bulbous Mediterranean plant in the parsley family Scaly gold rhizome of Mustardy, medium Southeast Asia heat, slight ginger nuances Bulbs of the flowering Spicy and pungent plant in the lily when raw; sweet, (onion) family fruity, and nutty when roasted
Sweet baked goods, Indian Whole and ground masalas and curry powders, Chinese five-spice, glazed ham, pumpkins, beets, and apples
Medical uses of cloves include use as a carminative, a painkiller for dental emergencies, and even as a cure for hiccups. Cigarettes made from cloves are popularly smoked in Indonesia. Italian marinades, spicy sauces, Flakes and whole dried Combined with lemon juice, dressings, salads, onion dishes, chilies chopped parsley, olive oil, and chicken, fish, and tomatoes salt, this spice rounds out the most versatile of marinades. Eggplant, lamb, lentils, beans, grains, ferments such as sauerkraut, squashes, cheeses, curries, winter stews; Indian, Mexican, Chinese, and North African cuisines Oily fishes, crustaceans, pork and sausages, poultry, sweet baked goods, and breads
Whole and ground
Second most popular spice in the world after black pepper
Whole and ground
Used in Chinese five-spice and as a digestive aid and breath-freshener in India
Thai and Vietnamese soups, stews, and curry pastes
Fresh, frozen, and dried slivers
Part of the Thai “holy trinity” along with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves Pungent, spicy taste is created when cloves are cut, combining precursors to create allicin. The finer it is chopped, the more allicin is created, and the spicier and harsher it becomes. Allicin dissipates in cooking. Fresh ginger can be juiced for beverages and marinades or sliced, chopped, and julienned for stir-fry, soups, chutneys, and curries. Main flavor in many brands of gin. Called a “berry,” it is actually a seed extracted from a cone.
General purpose. Pairs well Fresh, dried, with vegetables, meats, poultry, granulated, and fish and seafood, grains, and powdered legumes
Rhizome of Southeast Warm, woody, sweet, Seafood, poultry, leafy Asian origin and citrusy vegetables, rice and other grains, root vegetables, tempura dipping sauces, and sweet baked goods Soft, spherical Piney, resinous, and Game, duck, pork, fatty meats, blue-black seed of the sweet pâtés, organ meats, and common evergreen sauerkraut shrub of the Northern Hemisphere Fruit of the Southeast Floral with vanilla Thai curry pastes, Thai and Asian citrus tree notes Vietnamese soups and stews, and Cambodian dishes
Fresh young plants, mature fresh specimens, dried, and ground
Tiny yellow, red, or brown seeds of plant in the brassica (cabbage) family
Pungent and bittersweet
Seed extracted from the fruit of the Indonesian evergreen tree, which also produces mace Dried fruit of elongated, heartshaped chili plants native to the Americas
Sweet, piney, peppery, nutty, and very strong
Whole, ground, and “prepared” as a puree with wine (French), beer (German), or vinegar (American) Whole and ground
Black, white, and green peppercorns all come from the same climbing vine native to southwestern India. Pink peppercorns are from a different species entirely. Stigma of North African, Middle Eastern, and Spanish crocuses
Fruity/lemony/woody Meat, fish, vegetables, grains, (black), grassy soups, stews, egg dishes; (green), and earthy/ all-purpose musty (white), in addition to spicy heat Bold, musky, honeyed, warm, and grassy
Paella, bouillabaisse, risotto Dried Milanese, Moghul biryani, and Indian sweets
Seeds of a tropical annual herb
Earthy, nutty, and peaty
Tahini, Halva, Japanese soups, Dried Chinese seasoning pastes, and New York bagels. Black seeds are used mostly as a garnish for Asian rice dishes and desserts.
Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix)
(Brassica spp., Sinapis spp.)
Peppercorns (Piper nigrum)
Saffron (Crocus sativus)
Sesame (Sesamum indicum)
Cured meats, sausages, seafood, Indian curries, other brassicas such as cabbage and broccoli, and roasted vegetables and meats Béchamel, cheese and egg dishes, sweet baked goods, dairy, pumpkin pie, potatoes, and haggis
Zest, rind, and juice are widely used in Asia; leaves taste the same and are more easily available in the U.S. Bavarian sweet mustard uses sugar rather than acidic ingredients as a preservative and is classic with weisswurst. For savory cooking, grate sparingly from whole “nuts” for the freshest flavor. Nutmeg can easily overwhelm a dish.
Range from fruity, Slow-cooked stews, starchy Ground sweet, and bittersweet vegetables, eggs, white and red to smoky and woody meats, legumes, poultry, and game
Hungarian paprika ranges from mild and fruity to sharp and medium spicy. Spanish varieties (“pimentón”) are often woodsmoked and tend to be hotter. Whole (grind at the Pepper loses its flavor when moment of service for heated, so it should be added best flavor) and ground when cooking is through, or at (flavor dissipates the table. quickly, leaving only heat) World’s most expensive spice. A pinch contains hundreds of threads, each of which must be plucked from a single flower by hand. Prized for the vibrant gold-orange color it imparts Pressed for several types of oil. Unrefined oil is highly earthy, refined oil has a neutral flavor for general cooking purposes, and smoky and fragrant toasted Asian oil is for finishing Chinese, Japanese, and Korean dishes.
Culinary Spices (continued)
Fruit of Chinese evergreen magnolia
Dried fruits of prickly “Ma-la” or “spicy and ash trees numbing,” woody, and citrusy with hints of marjoram Rhizome of an Indian Understated ginger, plant in the ginger citrus, and earthy family notes
(Zanthoxylum simulans and Zanthoxylum piperitum)
Long, slender seed pod of the Central American orchid, although the best now come from Tahiti and Madagascar
Vanilla (Vanilla spp.)
Fennel, anise, and licorice
Chinese five-spice and “red-cooked” meat stews, marbled tea eggs, and Vietnamese pho
Fiery hot dishes of China’s Szechuan Dried whole and province, Japanese table spice, fatty ground fishes and meats, and grilled dishes Curry powder, eggplant, potatoes, Fresh (rare but poultry, root vegetables; Southeast growing) and dried Asian, Middle-eastern, Indian, North powder African, and Jamaican cuisines
Sweet and floral with Sweet baked goods, custards and ice notes of molasses, creams, compotes, and some aged oak, tropical crustacean dishes fruit, and freshlychurned butter
COAXING THE ESSENCE
like lemongrass, rosemary, or fresh bay leaves with a To draw maximum flavor from herbs blunt object to release flavor and spices: compounds sequestered in • Crush or rub dried herbs their cellular structure. between two fingers to break • Toast whole seed spices in essential oils from within. a dry pan until fragrant (but • Bruise stiff, waxy herbs not brown) to liquefy their
Whole pods (called “beans”), extract, and paste
flavor potential. flavorful oils and make them migrate to the seed surface. • Bloom ground spices (to revitalize their flavor) by making Cool before grinding. a ketchup-consistency paste • Sweat dried herbs and spices with water, then heating with vegetables (cook with lightly before incorporating a small amount of oil, no browning) before adding liquid into the dish being made. • “Chaunk” or “Targa” whole ingredients to awaken full
Growing at Home Spices are grown on large bushes or trees. Herbs may be homegrown on a windowsill. ●● Soil mix: Mix 4 parts (commercial) topsoil, 2 parts peat moss, 2 parts sand, and 2 parts fine gravel. ●● From seed: Use a multi-compartment tray or several plastic pots. Prepare 3 pots of each herb to ensure 1 healthy repottable plant. ––Add a little gravel to the bottom; fill with soil mix, not yard dirt. ––Make a small indentation in each compartment/pot; place 1 to 3 seeds in each indentation. »» Sprinkle a fine layer of soil over the seeds (cover depth = twice diameter of seed) and pack gently. »» Water gently, so as to not disturb the seeds. »» Cover the tray with a transparent cover, leaving a slight gap for ventilation. »» Place in warm light (not direct sunlight) and check moisture daily. Don’t overwater—just keep it moist. ––When seedlings appear, remove the cover. They will require a little more water—not too much—because they are no longer covered. ––When several sets of leaves appear, and seedlings are a few inches tall, they are ready for transplanting into individual 6″ to 8″ pots. Prepare pots as above; cuttings for recipes should be ready in about 4 weeks. ●● From transplants: To transfer to larger pots, follow the last step above. Plants must be kept warm (above 50°F) and out of direct sunlight to thrive.
Dried whole stars and ground
In addition to heavenly aromas and flavors, it is also widely used medicinally as it has antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant qualities. Produces a tingling, numbing sensation often mistakenly attributed to MSG Its powerful anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant properties, plus its brilliant yellow color, make turmeric one of the fastest-growing spices in popularity. Beans are split and steeped before the microscopic seeds are scraped out and dissolved in milk or syrup.
Indian spices by sizzling briefly in oil before stirring them into a curry, stew, or soup almost at the end of cooking for a lively blast of fresh spice flavor.
Marinades & Rubs ●● Place meat and marinade it in a glass or plastic container (bag) in the refrigerator. Shake or turn it every hour. ●● Minimum marinating times in the refrigerator to achieve best results: ––Beef: 4–6 hours ––Chicken: 1–2 hours ––Pork: 3–4 hours
––Seafood: 15–30 minutes ●● Maximum marinating times: 8 hours (seafood will begin to “cook” after 30 minutes) ●● Leftover marinades may be used for basting but be sure to cook item well after applying the last basting; it’s best to keep a marinade simmering throughout the basting time.
2 tbsp. oil (olive or vegetable) ½ c. olive oil
½ c. soy sauce
½ c. oil (olive or vegetable)
2 tbsp. sugar
¼ tsp. cloves, ground
2 tbsp. sherry
3 tbsp. vinegar or wine
1 tbsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. paprika
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. lemon juice
½ c. beef stock
¼ tsp. thyme
½ tsp. ginger, chopped
1 tsp. celery seed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ tsp. marjoram
2 tsp. ground ginger Herb & Wine
¼ tsp. pepper Light
½ c. red wine
½ c. oil (vegetable)
½ c. pineapple juice
1 small onion, minced
2 tsp. rosemary
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. thyme
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ c. olive oil
½ tsp. thyme
1 clove garlic, minced Barbecue
¼ c. honey Mediterranean
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 c. tomato sauce
½ c. olive oil
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ c. vinegar or wine
1 small onion, chopped
¼ c. vinegar
¼ tsp. cracked pepper
3 tbsp. vinegar
1 tsp. oregano
dash of salt Salmon or Trout
¼ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. basil
¼ c. soy sauce
1 whole bay leaf
½ tsp. cumin, ground
1 large bay leaf, broken
¼ c. cream sherry
½ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. mustard powder
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
½ tsp. thyme
¼ c. brown sugar
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 med. cloves garlic, chopped
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper Hearty Stew
U.S. $6.95 Author: Jay Weinstein
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¼ tsp. dry mustard 1 tsp. sugar (white or brown)
¼ tsp. dill weed