Lately, my spice rack has been looking like a hot mess and the tiny little OCD in me had to rearrange it (Monica-style, naturally)! So I spent the morning carefully pouring in different spices and therefore, making a mess along the way! What a fragrant day it has been so far!
I wanted to discuss about some of my favorite spices I use in every day cooking. What I love about herbs & spices is it not only brings out flavors in other foods to make a dish a whole, but it's very healthy for you. You see, to me, in order to cook well, you really need to know your spices and flavors. It was like a mini-mental exercise re-familiarizing all the different spices, including some I don't use on a consistent basis.
For example, I love, love, love the smell and flavor of star anise! It's bouquet is powerful and licorice-like, more pungent and stronger than regular anise . Sometimes called Chinese star anise, it should not be confused with Japanese star anise, which is highly toxic.
Star anise goes really well with pork and duck. It is very much contributed in Chinese cuisine, where ingredients are simmered for a long period in soy sauce, and star anise is nearly always added to beef and chicken dishes. Chinese stocks and soups usually contain the spice. This spice is also frequently used in Malaysian curries. It can also be added in fruit compotes and jams, pairs awesomely with tomatoes, and even braised beef dishes - I even use it when I make pickled red onion. Mm mm... the secret ingredient can elevate several dishes to a whole new level.
For everyday cooking, I always use s & p, and if I'm not going to use garlic cloves or actual onion, I'll turn to the powders for an easier substitute. As much as I love garlic, I don't always want to be smelling like one! I also regularly use dried herbs as well, which include rosemary, parsley, basil, bay leaves, and thyme. I incorporate many of these into potato dishes, poultry meats and roasted earthy vegetables like carrots, parsnips, and beets. If I'm making fajitas or tacos, I will never go without cumin. Did you know it stimulates appetite? Maybe that's why I always eat way too many tacos... you tricksters! ;)
Another spice essential in Asian cuisine is ginger. And I can never get enough of it. I make a really tasty beef & kale stir-fry using either freshly grated ginger root or ginger powder, as a substitute. I will have to share the stir-fry recipe! Ginger is a super aphrodisiac, and has an endless list of health benefits. It is most commonly known as a digestive aid. Hello, Ginger Ale! And of course, ginger is used to cleanse the palate in between different pieces of sushi.
What are your everyday spices? Do you have a particular favorite? Or perhaps, a really snazzy recipe with a unique ingredient you're dying to share? Well, come on aboard and let's hear it! Please like and share, and of course, comment below your favorite spice!
Have a spicerrific day! ;)
Love & xx's,
maQ + suz