Herbs and spices are a great way for businesses and cooks to add complexity to their dishes. The combination of different spices creates almost endless possibilities for the flavor of a dish. The options range not only from the different types of popular spices available, but also whether a cook uses fresh spices ordried spices, and even when the spices are added in the cooking process. Spices are a great way for a cook to show off his/her skills by elevating the quality of their food and showing finesse in mastering the use of spices. Using too little spices will lead to a bland dish, but using too much will make it hard for the customer to swallow (or at least enjoy). An additional benefit to expanding the use of spices is the appeal to health-conscious customers. Spices add flavor with minimal calories. Sometimes they decrease the amount of salt needed, lowering the sodium of the dish.
Types of Seasonings
The combination of various spices, whether they are fresh or dry, and when they were added to the dish, all affect the flavor and identity of a dish. Different cultures used different spices, giving ethnic food from each country a distinct flavor. Mexican food commonly uses cilantro, lime, garlic, and cumin. Morrocan food often contains dried ginger, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, or cumin. Asian foods usually include lemongrass, lime, fresh ginger, fresh red chili pepper, soy sauce, and Mirin (a sweet rice wine). Dried and fresh herbs have very different flavors. Dried herbs and dried spices usually have more concentrated flavor than their fresh counterparts, since much of the water they contain evaporates in the drying process. The difference in taste can give the dish a hint of flavor of a different ethnicity. For example, Moroccan food uses dried ginger, but Asian food usually calls for fresh ginger. Some common factors apply to all spices, no matter the desired result. The most popular spices, such as salt, pepper, and garlic, are used in all ethnic seasonings. Fresh herbs and spices should always be very fresh. Dried herbs and spices are preferably always “new.” Over time, they tend to lose some of their flavor. Whole spices will retain their flavor longer than ground spices. Therefore, it is recommended to self-grind spices at the time they will be used, using a spice grinder. Salt is an exception to this rule. For maximum comfort, the most popular spices used in a business can be stored in a pepper mill for quick grinding.
Cooking With Spices
Experimenting with spices can lead to delicious results. Adding spices before cooking a dish will allow the flavor to influence all the components of a dish. Adding something at the last minute, such as herbs, will allow the flavor to be crisp and fresh. Learning to balance different flavors and quantities of spices is key in using them to improve dishes. With some practice, the results have great potential to pay off.