What can completely change the taste of a dish? The seasoning! These aromatic ingredients that come in the form of herbs (fresh or dried) and spices, when added to recipes, make all the difference in the aroma and flavor of meals. Just as salt and pepper form the basis of seasonings, sustaining the flavors and ensuring that the other ingredients can stand out, herbs and spices bring personality to the dish, transforming recipes and flavors according to their texture, aroma or flavor.
They can often carry a historical heritage or the origin of a recipe, as many are characteristic of certain countries or places and are often associated with the cuisine of these regions. On other occasions, they refer to a recipe or dish that we have already tasted and that has marked in our memory, precisely because it has that characteristic flavor.
The use of spices in gastronomy could not be more versatile, as the spice options available are numerous and the way to combine them requires daring and knowledge, skills that can only be acquired by practice. And the best, there is no right or wrong, it all depends on your taste, your state of mind and your culinary identity. No rules, no barriers or prejudices.
Leaving the ordinary has become a frequent practice when talking about culinary practices. Ingredients not so well known or used become part of the preparation of dishes that sharpen the palate and bring an air of novelty to even the most traditional meals.
Different seasonings to include in your recipes
For chefs Helena and Lucio Manosso, both participants in the first edition of the TV show “Masterchef Brasil” and owners of Salt & Pepper Consultoria Culinária, the use of seasonings in gastronomy can be compared to paints in a painting: just like the colors, seasoning options are plentiful, varying according to the cook’s taste. Thus, below is a list of spices that are rarely used, but that have great possibilities to enhance the meal, along with tips from professionals on how to use them and recipe suggestions:
“Also known as celery, it is a vegetable with a strong flavor and very aromatic. Its stem is widely used in the preparation of broths and backgrounds, in addition to soups and in the traditional chicken sausage. The leaves can be used as a base for a vegetable stir-fry,” advises professionals.
- Chicken sausage: In this recipe, celery stalks are used as a resource to bring more crunchiness to the recipe.
- Salsion risotto: Here, in addition to using the stalks in the recipe, its leaves also complement the decoration of the dish.
”Best known in the preserved form, the caper originates from the Mediterranean region. It goes well with fish and seafood and is indispensable in the sauce that accompanies meat carpaccio”, explains the chefs.
Culinarists clarify that leek is a bulb from the same family as onions and garlic, but with a more delicate flavor than its cousins. It can be consumed raw in salads or as a base in stir-fries and soups, as well as quiches and pies.
- Leek Quiche: Leek is the star of this quick and easy recipe.
- Carrot and leek cloud: great for those days that ask for light meals, it uses few ingredients and is great to accompany a grilled chicken.
Known as basil or basil, it is an aromatic herb widely used in Mediterranean cuisine. Its leaves are delicate and should not be subjected to high temperatures, but used to finish dishes. “It goes well with fish and pasta and is the main ingredient in pesto sauce”, inform the professionals.
- Caprese Salad: with gourmet airs, this salad has a simple execution and accentuated flavor due to the use of basil.
- Pesto sauce: basic Italian recipe where basil or basil is the main ingredient.
Of Chinese origin, it has a strong flavor and aroma of anise. Mainly used in marinades, broths and soups, it goes well with pork and duck. For Helena and Lucio, this is one of the ingredients of the seasoning called Five Spices, widely used in Chinese cuisine.
”A spice originally from India and Sri Lanka, it belongs to the same family as ginger and is usually sold in the form of green berries or powder. In the case of berries, it is necessary to break them to release the seeds inside. In Arab countries, it is consumed with coffee, but it can be used in marinades, broths and as a component of seasoning mixes, in addition to sweets, ice cream and fruit in syrup,” the chefs explain.
Professionals clarify that this spice originated from the Mediterranean, is widely used in Mexican and Bahian cuisine. It has a strong and striking flavor, can be found in the form of grains and powder. It pairs well with red meat and is used as an ingredient in spice mixes such as Indian curry.
- Onion and cumin bread: cumin makes this bread even more aromatic and flavorful.
- Cumin Beef Strips: An easy-to-make recipe that uses cumin as the main flavor enhancer for the rump strips.
Professionals report that this is a seasoning widely used in Asian cuisine in general, especially in Thai, Japanese and Chinese cuisine. It has a spicy flavor and can be used in both savory and sweet preparations. Also found in crystallized form, it is the main ingredient of traditional Christmas gingerbreads (doughnuts with gingerbread flavor) typical of England and the United States. Another tip is to use it in our very Brazilian caipirinha, macerated together with lemon and sugar.
- Rice with carrots and ginger: great option to vary the day-to-day meal, ginger leaves a soft aroma. Ideal dish to accompany grilled dishes
- Ginger Rum Biscuit: Also known as Joe Frogger, it has its origins in Massachucets and honors a famous resident. They have a crunchiness to please even the most demanding.
Originally from the small islands off the coast of Indonesia, it was one of the most valued spices in the Middle Ages, due to its culinary and medicinal use. As a warning, professionals explain that consumption of more than 5 g of nutmeg powder can lead to hallucinations and motor control, but this is equivalent to consumption of more than a whole nut at a time. In usual amounts, it presents no problem. It is sold in the form of a fruit (nut) and must be grated at the time of use, in order to preserve its aroma and flavor. It goes well with mashed potatoes, béchamel sauce and fruit compotes or chocolate mousse.
- Spice Brigadeiro: when replacing the chocolate with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, this brigadeiro gains a new flavor.
- Arroz à piamontese: great option to the usual everyday rice, this rice is accompanied by white sauce (bechamel sauce) and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.
”Made from dried and ground peppers, it is widely used in Hungarian and German cuisine. Depending on the raw material used, it can have a milder flavor (sweet paprika) or spicy. The main ingredient of goulash, it is also widely used in Spanish and Mexican cuisine”, inform Helena and Lucio.
- Goulash: original recipe from Hungary, but very popular in Germany, is a meat stew that uses both sweet and spicy paprika.
- Roasted Chicken with Paprika and Garlic: Using chicken thighs and breast, the spicy paprika and garlic bring even more flavor to the dish. Ideal for a family lunch.
For the chiefs, its use is not so widespread because the plant is related to opium, a hallucinogenic substance obtained from the stem (latex) of the green plant. Poppy seeds have no connection with opium, they are obtained from the mature plant and are mainly used to flavor breads, cakes, cookies and pies, as well as fruit salads.
”Pepper of Brazilian origin, typical of the southeastern states. Its grains, small and rounded, of green color, have moderate burning and characteristic flavor. They are ideal for use in preserves, sauces and marinades for seasoning beef or pork,” inform the professionals.
- Baked and stuffed kibe recipe: easy and quick to make, just assemble the kibe and put it in the oven. The cumarí pepper together with the white pepper makes the flavor even more special.
- Shrimp stew with chayote: making the shrimp sauce spicier, the coumarin pepper enhances the flavor of this crustacean so appreciated in our cuisine.
”With a pungent flavor, it is widely used in Italian cuisine, where it appears in the classic saltimboca alla romana. Because it is delicate, it should always be used fresh, preferably combined with a source of fat, such as butter or olive oil. It goes well with pasta, cheese and vegetables. A fettuccine finished in butter with a little sage and pecorino cheese is among the simplest and most sensational recipes in Italian cuisine”, teach the culinary experts.
”A aromatic herb with a pleasant taste, it can be found fresh or dried (dehydrated). It can be used to flavor broths, marinades, potatoes and risottos. It also works well as a seasoning for red meat, poultry and tomato-based sauces.
- Rump fillet steak with thyme and garlic: great option to add flavor and beauty to your grilling. It is used during the preparation and finishing of the dish.
- Thyme rice: used to flavor rice, it is a great accompaniment to meats and salads.
How to make spice mix
The bottoms and broths are fundamental preparations in the kitchen, as they serve as the basis for many other recipes, from sauces to marinades and infusions. Contrary to popular belief, preparing them is not complicated and the flavor and aroma of freshly made broths are infinitely better compared to ready-made broths. Not to mention they are much healthier, as they use less sodium and no preservatives.
In the search for a healthier diet and with the trend of gradual exclusion of industrialized products and foods, making your own mix of seasonings can be a great option. With this in mind, culinary consultants Lucio and Helena teach different recipes to make it easier to season your meals:
Beef or Chicken Broth
- 1 kg bone-in meat (in the case of beef broth, ossobuco or ribs; for chicken broth, carcasses and thighs)
- 1.5 liters of water
- 1 onion coarsely chopped
- 1 carrot coarsely chopped
- 1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled, crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground peppercorns
- 1 bouquet garni (herbs such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, leek leaves, rolled into a bouquet and tied with culinary string)
Way of doing
Place all the ingredients in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil until it starts to boil….
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