As home cooks and gardeners, we know plant growth and agriculture directly relate to geography and climatic conditions.
For this reason, herbs and spices directly influence a region’s culinary fare.
When creating delicious dishes at home, it is important home chefs familiarize themselves with the different herbs and spices. Through experimentation and practice, you will find yourself developing a feel for seasonings that will enable you to produce more consistently good flavor in your meals.
Basic Principals for Herbs and Spices
There are some basic guidelines in using spices and culinary flavors.
The most important principal is herbs and spices should enhance the natural flavor of food, rather than dominate the dish.
Another principal is understanding the difference between using fresh or dried herbs. They vary in taste and intensity and this can make a big difference in the success of your dish.
- At their best when taken straight from the garden
- Supermarket fresh herbs may consists of artificial products to stimulate growth
- Ideal for teas, salads and hot dishes
- Add in the last 5 – 10 minutes of cooking for the most intense flavor
- Best used in the wintertime when fresh options are unavailable
- Adding towards the end of cooking will give you a stronger flavor
- Dried herb amounts are HALF that of fresh herbs
- Spices made from seeds, like cardamom, black pepper and nutmeg are always sold dried due to their pungent flavor
An ethic cuisine is defined by the ingredients, equipment, style and methods of a particular geographic region, while its flavor profile is HOW those things are used to produce the dishes of that cuisine.
Flavor is a composite quality, a combination of sensations from the taste buds in our mouth and the odor receptors in the nose. Our receptors are triggered by specific chemicals in foods.
There are only five different tastes:
But there are thousands of odors. Most of what we experience as flavor is odor, or aroma.
After our ancestors developed agriculture, they developed ways to give their taste buds and nose a new experience with regional plant parts containing concentrated sources of flavors, herbs and spices.
Regional Classic Mixtures of Herbs and Spices
Chermoula from Morocco (a marinade or sauce, usually found on fish or meat) includes onion, garlic, coriander, chili, cumin, black pepper, saffron