There are a lot of techniques involved in cooking delicious food. Spices are one of the most important aspects of tasty and aromatic food. Getting the right balance of spices is not an easy task.
There is a lot of trial and error involved in making sure that the spices compliment the ingredients instead of overpowering them.
The role of the spices is to complement and enhance the flavor of the ingredients. One does not become a master of spices in a day. It happens after a lot of trial and error.
If you want to make the best of the spices then you must be ready to be creative and experiment.
Tips for Becoming Master of Spices
Here are some key tips that will put on the path of becoming a specialist of spices:
Understanding The Spices
The first step to using spices properly is to understand them. There are hundreds of spices in the world and it is not possible to know the name and taste of each and every one of them. They are divided in two main categories:
The spices that are found in whole forms such as flowers, seeds, bark and buds are included in this category. These spices are highly aromatic.
When the whole spices are grounded to the powdered form like ground cinnamon or ground cumin, etc. are put it the ground spices category.
The powdered spices are mostly used for enhancing the taste of the dish while whole spices are for imparting aroma and flavor. The key to understanding both categories of spices is to use and taste them. Keep experimenting until you manage to get the balance right.
Know When to Use
It is vital to understand that not every dish needs the same amount of spices. Some ingredients are much more flavorsome on their own and do not many spices to add more layers. Knowing when to use spices is the key to making the food taste exceptional.
Categorize Spices by Cuisine
Different cuisines have a unique smell. The aroma that hits your nose when you go to a Mexican or Indian restaurant is created by a combination of spices. If you are cooking these cuisines then you will need lots of spices to create the specific taste and smell.
You should get creative and use a wide variety of spices when you are experimenting. There are two situations you need to use spices and they are:
- You want to create smell or taste of a distinct cuisine
Familiarize With Taste Classifications
Identifying the taste classification of the spices is crucial for properly using them and creating best combinations. The classification helps in simplifying underlying taste you want in the dish.
Here is a basic understanding of spice taste classifications:
- Sweet spices like cloves, cinnamon or nutmeg can add subtle sweetness to the ingredients
- Pepper, chili powder and garam masala are hot and sharp spices.
- Cumin and coriander are pungent and enhance taste of the ingredients
Which Spices to Use?
A good cook knows when to leave out the spices as well. Sometimes only salt and pepper is enough to make the perfect dish while some recipes require a lot of spices. The basic spices used in Italian cuisine are chili, oregano, parsley, garlic and basil while in Asian cuisine soy sauce, coriander, ginger and sesame oil are critical.
Building Spice Collection
To become master of spices it is essential to have a good collection in the kitchen. The beginners can start off the collection with five basic spices:
Once you get the hang of these basic spices you can start adding more to the collection. The more spices you add to the collection the better you will get at knowing the right amount to add.
Being adventurous with spices will elevate your cooking so be confident, experiment and trust your taste buds.