Cooking Tips | 20 August 2015Essential Spice Techniques Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Spices are a wonderful way to experiment with flavor. But, being unfamiliar with a spice can make adding it to a recipe quite intimidating. The Magic of Spice Blends is a wonderful introduction to spices, their flavor profiles, and how they are best used. Try these spice techniques in your next dish! There are various ways to categorize spices, but five general categories are helpful: sweet, pungent, tart, hot, and savory. Many spices have elements of more than one category. For example, habanero chilies are both hot (very hot!) and sweet and fruity, while coriander seeds are citrus-scented and the leaves from the same plant, often known as cilantro, are highly pungent. Sweet spices include cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and vanilla. pungent spices include star anise, licorice, cardamom, black cardamom, asafetida, mace, and clove. Tart or tangy spices include sumac, ginger, tamarind, anardana, and limu omani. Savory spices include many of the seeds and herbs, such as coriander, fennel, parsley, oregano, rosemary, and mint. Toasting Spices Toasting spices is a simple way to enhance and even transform flavors with dry heat. For instance, in Mexican, Latin American, and Indian cooking, whole dried chiles are often toasted to enhance their flavor by releasing their volatile oils while lightly browning them. Take care to toast chiles in a place with good ventilation. Open the windows and doors and turn on a fan to keep the air moving to avoid choking on hot chile fumes or, if you have an outdoor cooker, work outside. Making a Wet Spice Paste In this book, we use several spice blends in paste form. The basic recipe for a spice paste—½ cup (115 g) of a spice blend combined with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of a vegetable oil—is illustrated here with French-Indian Vadouvan a thick, moist paste based on abundant caramelized shallots and garlic accented with aromatic dry spices and fragrant curry leaves. The mixture forms a tasty, crunchy-chewy crust that seals in juices and provides mouthpleasing contrast of texture with the tender, soft salmon. Buy from an Online Retailer In North America: A pinch of this and a dash of that, and you’ll be creating distinctive and delectable flavors in every dish! Today, more than ever, we have access to almost every spice and herb imaginable. But it’s the careful blending of herbs and spices that is the true art of the spice handler. The Magic of Spice Blends reveals the secrets of creating and cooking with the world’s classic spice blends from seven regions: Africa, the Far East, Europe, India, the Middle East, North America and the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America. Chef Aliza Green guides you through the principles of choosing, working with, and blending spices. Join the fun of creating personalized spice and herb blends and knowing just what goes into them–no ancient, bitter, musty dust here! Find resources on where to purchase great quality herds and spices, even organic, non-irradiated. You can even grow your own and use them to make those wonderful spice blends. Along with background information on the history, culture, and culinary uses of each blend, The Magic of Spice Blends includes recipes and variations for 50 spice blends and an additional 50 recipes featuring the blends, including: Spicy Moroccan Steamed Mussels with Charmoula (Africa); Vietnamese Chicken Bahn-Mi Sandwich with Chinese Five Spice (the Far East); Swedish Gingerbread Cookies (Europe); Grilled Vadouvan Salmon with Date-Tamarind Chutney (India); Watermelon, Labne, and Mint Salad with Lime-Advieh Dressing (the Middle East); Louisiana Spicy Boiled Crayfish (North America); and Jerk-Spiced Turkey Wings (the Caribbean, Mexico, and South America). Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.