Hot answers tagged

44

"Hotness" is a quite vague description which can be caused by a number of chemical compounds and is percieved by various receptors. Chili peppers (capsicum) contain the alkaloid capsaicin. If your restaurant insisted that there were no chilis included, there is a slight possibility that they used it under another name (ethnic restaurants or other regions ...


42

In general, it is a good idea to go light on spices when trying a new recipe, if you're not intimately familiar with the flavor and spice combinations in question. It's a great deal easier to add spice later than it is to mask it once you've added too much. Assuming you are reading this because you didn't do that, and have now ended up with a sauce that's ...


42

Cinnamon is the bark of a tree. It is either sold as rolled strips of bark (=cinnamon sticks) or ground. It will not dissolve, neither in water nor in alcohol. What you want to do is basically the same as was done commercially with the vanilla extract you are already using: Extract the taste, then discard the bark itself. Alcohol is a good choice for ...


27

I'm aware of three reasons that you might not want to do so: You tie up spices that you might want to use in other dishes individually You don't always want to add the spices at the same time. You can't always keep spices well-blended. If you only tend to cook one dish or you leave some of each spice in reserve, the first one isn't really a problem. The ...


22

I tend to just stick the spices in a tea egg I do this whenever I think the spices will get in the way during my process or when I want to remove them before serving, such as in case of a bouquet garni, cloves or juniper berries. Should you be reluctant to use metal in your recipe you can of course use loose leaf tea bags. Either way you can just lift ...


21

It's not a "cheat sheet", and is rather too big to stick to your fridge, but I highly recommend the book The Flavor Bible, which is an encyclopedia of exactly these associations. What ingredients does any particular ingredient go with? How do you cook it? Absolutely terrific book!


21

Garam masala is a catch-all term for an Indian spice blend. It has no fixed recipe but is likely to contain a combination of cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay, black pepper, star anise, dried chillies, coriander, cumin and maybe more or less. Blends vary according to family tradition and region. Spices are then dried out and possibly roasted, before being ...


19

Having taken a look around some recipe sites and taken the intersection of what most of them consider the "core" spices (and leaving out the ones that showed up on too many 'variations' lists), it looks like the canonical ones are: basil marjoram oregano rosemary thyme


19

You can't really substitute cayenne pepper for black pepper. They're completely different, not even in the same botanical order. Cayenne pepper is a powdered chile. Black pepper is tiny drupe. The heat in cayenne pepper comes from capsaisin, and the pepperyness in black pepper from piperine. Closer substitutes would be white peppercorns (in moderation!), ...


19

I've seen a lot of different curry recipes with varying levels of authenticity, but the most common ingredients I see in curries that might impart that colour are: Garam masala (brown) Chili powder (red) Cumin (brown) Paprika (red) Tandoori powder (usually a mix of masala, cumin, ground red pepper, fenugreek, and others - very red) Saffron (red) Still, ...


18

It seems to be an edible lichen. It looks very like one described online as (black) stone flower in English and dagad phool in Hindi, which seems to be a not uncommon ingredient in various spice mixes; e.g. on the left in this photo from an Indian food blog: [Edit: photo removed as I’ve just realised the author of that blog specifically requests not ...


18

I am going to slightly disagree with the other two answers. First, here is an excerpt summarizing Alton Brown's opinion: The first step in learning how to cook with spices is learning where to find spices. Now here in America, we do have some indigenous spices: allspice, vanilla, chili peppers, all from here. But by and large, most of your culinary ...


18

The spice you are looking for is called Allspice or Piment, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allspice. The Greek name is μπαχάρι, pronounced bakhari.


18

It's nutmeg. The author of that blog is from Switzerland, so I imagine that term is used there, but I had never heard used culinarily until now. I Googled "Grated Musk", and still had to look around to be sure. Thanks for teaching me something. EDIT As of an hour after the question was posted: Click the "Grated Musk" link now! This question is now the top ...


17

This doesn't answer your question directly, but spices are only a small part of the picture. Below are some techniques to get more flavor in your soup. Longer Cooking Depending on the type of soup you're making, you may just need more time. Some flavors just need more time to get out. This is especially true of meat and bones. It's possible to make a ham ...


17

According to my research, the effect of capsaicin that causes the burning sensation is indirectly responsible for the pleasurable release of endorphins, which are the brain's way of counter-acting the pain sensation. If you don't feel any burn, then you probably haven't consumed enough capsaicin to trigger the endorphin rush. This source from Northwestern ...


16

Dried herbs really do only last around six months, certainly no longer than a year. They're generally easy to get in small quantities, though. Spices are trickier. They'll generally last rather longer, but the time will vary. If the spice is used for the colour and/or heat (e.g. turmeric, chilli) it will generally last much, much longer than one used for ...


16

forgive my poor English (I am Italian and live in Italy) while trying to give you my answer. I cannot +1 Peter V because of my poor reputation, but he is right: in Italian cooking you don’t go for mix, what you look for is the balance between a few ingredients, normally one from different kind of foods: one cereal, one veg, one spice for example. The main ...


15

Try to remember where you read that. And then don't read them anymore. If you find your nutmeg and cinnamon tasting at all similar, they've both turned to dust and should be discarded. And next time, buy whole nutmeg - it tastes much better freshly-grated, and keeps much longer without turning into vaguely-spicy-bitter dust.


15

As others have said, there are few spices with umami. However, if you're looking for something that you can use in the same way as a spice, then I suggest simply blitzing dried porcini (cep) mushrooms in a blender or grinder into a fine powder and using that. It has a deep umami flavour - try rubbing it on a steak before cooking and you'll be blown away.


15

Lard is the fat of choice in many "el cheapo" canned refried beans, and could be what you are missing.


14

I've noticed that salty food has somewhat of an addictive quality; people who eat a lot of it (i.e. fast food or other processed food) tend to bury their meals under a mountain of salt, whereas people such as myself who do a lot of home cooking hardly use (or want) any. "Season to taste" means pretty much what it sounds like; add however much salt (and ...


14

Cream usually takes the edge off of spiciness, but it depends on the type of spice, and obviously on whether you can add anything creamy to the dish. For Thai food (for example) if you request that the curry be mild, they'll just dump in some more coconut milk.


14

The closest thing is to combine equal parts of ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and black pepper.


14

They don't taste identical at all, and even more important, they don't smell the same. White pepper has a distinct "barnyard" odor. People do indeed use them when black flecks might be unpleasant, but in most cases I'd rather go pepperless or just live with the color.


14

When you cook a vegetable, such as a cut-up onion, it will release water. The water initially will create an emulsion with the oil in the pan, so you won't see them as clearly separated elements, but it will also be evaporating. When enough (perhaps all) of the water has dissapated, the emulsion breaks and you see the oil separate from the rest of the ...


13

First, trust your nose. Smell the food you're cooking. Open the spice and sniff above it (but not too close, and don't sneeze!). If they smell good together, they usually taste good together. If you're working with products you can't taste test (like raw meat), either wait until the food is cooked to season, or be very conservative in your early experiments. ...


13

Salting food has a predictable trajectory. Think of it like a roller-coaster. /\ At first it's not great, then it's great, then it's not great again. Food with no salt will taste one-dimensional and flat. The flavors will not "pop". Add a little salt and the taste of a dish will start to both integrate and become more complex. With the perfect ...


13

I don't know about brands, but there are six different types. Hot, Hungarian, Plain, Smoked, Spanish, Sweet. Paprika releases its flavor with heat, but burns easily. So mix it in with liquid, and make sure it gets hot. Sprinkled onto a cold dish (like deviled eggs), it remains quite bland. Add it to browned hamburger meat, and you're halfway to taco ...


13

Same plant for both. Black pepper is unripe fruit (green), picked and sun dried til it turns black. White pepper is the fully ripe seed stripped of its outer husk. Here's the first link that google gave me to verify. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_pepper#White_pepper Also, Harold McGee has a couple of pages in "On Food and Cooking" for further detail. ...



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