In my attempt to stimulate your global palette, this is the second post in a series of Fusion cooking. These are just some tips that will veer your creativity in the right direction. Keep in mind, there are unlimited possibilities in terms of what you can do yourself!
Spices have been traded, imported and introduced across borders for many centuries. Some say humans have been using spices since 50,000 BC for medical remedies, food and mummifying. Spice trading was an important activity amongst sailors. Fortunately, we now live in a world where our neighborhood grocery store bestows us the best spices from Asia, Middle East, Europe, Africa and South America – all in one isle!
India is the largest producer of spices in the world, but you need not cook Indian cuisine to enjoy them. Here are some chows and spices from different parts of the world that you can combine to create your own fusion….
Saffron – The sweetness from saffron makes a risotto very flavorful. Use only a pinch in the beginning as it will continue to add color as the risotto cooks. It can also be used with short grain rice or Israeli couscous.
Curry Powder – Use a teaspoon of curry powder as base of soups, before you add stock. It adds a new dimension to your potato leek soup or squash bisque.
Paprika – Sweet and spicy kinds of paprika are sold in Hungary. It is now used to add a little heat in a number of dishes, but the sweet kind can be used more freely. Try a paprika chicken stew using both kinds, but be careful not to go overboard with the spice or you won’t be able to taste anything else.
Cumin Powder – While cumin seeds are lightly roasted and used in some Indian cooking, cumin powder is fine to use straight out of the box. It has a strong peppery fragrance and is best when combined with other spices. You can add it to stews, soup and curries.
Red Pepper – These come in a variety depending on the geographic source and vary in their heat and flavor accordingly. Powdered red pepper should be used to flavor dishes, season meats and add taste. Fry a pinch with oil and roast nuts in the pan for a quick cocktail snack. Rub it on raw chicken or meat along with salt and pepper before you cook. Mix with some crushed peanuts and season fish fillets, then pan fry for a Thai style treat. Sprinkle on breads, add to sauces and don’t be afraid!
Additionally, spice mixes such as Zatar, Cajun, Garam Masala can be used to season meat and fish and paired with a starch from another cuisine. See Cooks across borders for more ideas.
I am eager to hear from you. What are your favorite spices? Have you had a recipe go wrong by adding too much or too little spice? Please share…