Thursday, March 31, 2011

5 Exotic Must-Have Spices Every Cook Should Have in the Kitchen

5 Exotic Must-Have Spices Every Cook Should Have in the Kitchen
Everyone has the ordinary spices like cinnamon, sage, thyme, paprika, nutmeg and bay leaves, but there are so many more possibilities that are much more exotic. These more exotic spices can also dramatically change the flavor of your food and make you think you are eating a totally different dish. You can change the flavor of many of your ordinary foods by doing nothing more than using different spices.

  1. Star Anise
Star anise is a spice that has a flavor close to anise and actually contains anethole, the ingredient that gives anise its flavor. It is less expensive than anise and as a result is gaining popularity in the West as a substitute for anise in baking and the production of liquor. It also enhances the flavor of meat and can also be used sparingly as a substitute for cinnamon is some hot beverages.
2. Arrowroot
Although this ingredient is neither spice nor herb, it is an ingredient that might make many cooks happy. Arrowroot is often used as a thickener in sauces and doesn't turn them cloudy like many other thickeners.
3. Cardamon
Cardamon has a very strong and unique taste whose fragrance is highly aromatic. In addition, black caramon has a smokier aroma that some people equate to the aroma of mint. It is a very common ingredient in both Indian cooking and Nordic baking. Green cardamon is one of the most expensive spices by weight, but there is very little necessary to impart the necessary flavor. It is best to store cardamon in pod form because it will quickly lose its flavor once you expose the seeds.
4. Turmeric
Most of the time turmeric is in the form of root powder, but there are some regions that use the leaves form wrapping and cooking food. In most cases this occurs in regions where turmeric is locally grown because cooks use freshly picked turmeric which gives the food a very distinct flavor.
In regions other than South Asia turmeric is frequently used to provide food with a rich yellow color similar to that of custard. Some of the uses include beverages, baked products, dairy products, ice cream, yogurt, yellow cakes, orange juice, biscuits and many more. You will also find it in most commercial curry powders.
5. Lemon Grass
Lemon Grass is a very common ingredient in Thai cooking and is known to impart a lemony taste. It is also believe to have a variety of health benefits with it is used with other Thai spices such as garlic, fresh chillies and coriander.
Give a few of these seasonings a try and don't be afraid to mix and match, especially when it comes to blending them with flavors you already know and love. Enjoy!
About the author: This post was written by Miranda S, a full time surgical technologist with a passion for cooking. She loves mixing new spices to create unique flavor blends.

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