Spectacular Spices: 5 Wonderful Flavors You Absolutely Need Now

Top-rated chefs use aromatic science when crafting their award-winning dishes. Lots of research, many experiments, and a bit of luck are all in play before the flavors of that amazing dish come together. To all the amazing chefs out there reading this — Thank you! We really appreciate all your hard work. Keep doing what you do, and we’ll see you at the table. To the home cook: you too can create great dishes using aromatic pairings of spectacular spices.

Understanding how aromas and flavors work together is really helpful for home cooks too. Cooking involves all of our senses our sense of smell is an incredibly powerful cooking tool. Scent-based recipe creation is essential practice for serious cooking enthusiasts. A great way to practice and hone your olfactory awareness is to dive right in to unfamiliar territory. Pick up a few spices that you don’t usually cook with and work them into recipes. Some will come together nicely. Some will be inedible; trust me on this. The experience you’ll gain is invaluable, however. Do this regularly and you’ll be soon be rewarded with a catalog of original recipes.

Here’s a technique to start with:

Organize your recipe’s main ingredients. Once everything is in place — mise en place — spoon out a little of your spice experiment subject then take a whiff. Appreciate the aroma for a moment, then take a whiff of a recipe ingredient. Repeat this for each recipe ingredient and if at any time you think a pleasant “hmm …”, you’re on to something. Go with it. How much to add? That’s worthy of another post altogether — stay tuned. Until then, play it safe and add just a pinch.

These 5 spectacular spices are a few that work with a wide variety of food and drink. Try each on in unexpected ways. Sweet, savory, proteins, vegetables; whatever the dish, remember it’s all about aroma. If it smells good, you’re in business.

Happy pairing!

5 Spectacular Spices For Unique, Flavorful Dishes

Long Pepper

Similar to black pepper, but with a bit more kick and much more complex. I don’t want to influence your sense of it, so I’ll leave the description at that. Try long pepper ground or as peppercorns.

Juniper Berries

You guessed it. Those juniper berries. The ones that make gin, gin. Fruity, floral & slightly spicy.

Nigella

Dry-roasted nigella seeds are fantastic. They have a broad flavor profile and are slightly bitter.

Grains of Paradise

These will surprise you the first few times you try them in recipes. Here’s a hint — try then in everything!

Wasabi

More than the pasty sushi condiment. A little wasabi powder can be tossed into baked goods, sprinkled on proteins, and even add a unique twist to sweets.

Bon appétit.

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