Thoughts For Food

Insights into the Mind of a Culinary School Student

Food Bites: Spice Things Up!


First of all, I apologize for the delay in posting this. I got hung up by some things that I’d rather not discuss here, but we’re all good now! With that out of the way, let’s get to the food, or in this case, the SPICE.

Spices are wonderfully versatile bits of flavor that come from all corners of the globe and provide food with unforgettable flavors and aromas. Spices are the core of any region’s flavor profile. Be it the American Southwest and it’s big, bold and spicy flavors or the mild undercurrent of flavor that comes with most Asian cooking, spices really make any given dish pop.

That being said, you really have to be careful with spices when combining flavors and adding them to foods. Some spices are so powerful, that they’ll overpower anything else they are paired with. For example, you wouldn’t want to put too much Paprika with something delicate like Cinnamon, because all you’d taste would be the Paprika. Balancing flavors is the name of the game here. That being said, you could also pair spices with other spices, or even herbs, that accentuate the natural flavor of the spice. The possibilities are endless!

Finally, a tiny note about how to apply spices to the surface of the food in question. Many people just take the sprinkle-and-rub technique, which is absolutely fine. It will form a nice flavorful crust on the food in question. However, if you want to really share the flavor all over, you need to think liquid; oil specifically. Thanks to some extensive research (meaning watching Good Eats episodes until my eyes hurt), I have learned that many spices won’t share their flavors unless two things are added: heat and oil. Many of the essential flavors and aromas of spices can’t be transferred to food without oil. As an added bonus, the oil also moves heat into the food evenly and quickly, facilitating the cooking process.

My personal application of this oil-spice combo is to make a quick paste or slurry and then rub it evenly across the surface of the food. Try it out with your next spicy adventure. In fact, here’s a quick recipe for you:

1. Take roughly one or two tablespoons (depending on how much you’re making) of the following spices and herbs: Paprika, Lemon-Pepper, Ginger, Garlic Powder, Caraway Seed, Oregano and Thyme.

2. Mix it with Canola Oil (or any other neutral flavored oil) until it has the consistency of wet sand.

3. Apply thoroughly across the surface of the food in question.

4. Cook to your liking (grill, broil, bake, etc.).

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Author: NJ_Chef

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and aspiring food-writer. 28-year old chef, blogger, eSports fan, gamer, jack-of-all-trades and master of none.

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