What makes the restaurant food tastier than home food is that the chefs have immense knowledge about herbs and spices. Once you master the art of using these seasoning ingredients, you will be able to make even more delicious food. Apart from the scrumptious taste, your food’s smell will drive your family, friends, and coworkers crazy.
The usage of herbs and spices is not rocket science and with experience, you will get to know which seasonings should be present in your dish and in what quantity. After that, you would easily cook quick and easy family meals in no time.
You can use most of the herb in both fresh and dried forms. Herbs are the leaves and green parts of a plant while its bark, roots, seeds, etc. are generally considered a spice. Fresh herbs are amazing for garnishing and they give a bold flavour. Apart from having significant aromatic quality, herbs work well for sautéing and roasting. They can also be chopped and mixed into foods like mashed potatoes.
Some of the popular herbs are mind, cilantro, oregano, parsley, bay leaf, basil, thyme, rosemary, chives, sage, etc. You can buy fresh herbs and then store them in a Ziploc bag in your fridge with a damp paper tissue wrapped around their stems.
Dried herbs go well when used with butter, water, or oil, as they infuse the liquid with strong flavours. You can crush the herbs using a mortar and pestle, your fingers, or simply chop them.
Spices are plenty in number and have unique and bold flavours. They are mostly used in dried form. They may be used whole or crushed in a mixer grinder and used as powder. You can use cinnamon bark, saffron, nutmeg, peppercorn, cardamom, clove, cumin, star anise, etc. in their whole form. Turmeric, pepper, asafoetida, paprika, salt, cayenne, etc. are usually used in their powder form.
Spices also have therapeutic properties and including spices in your daily meals can help keep diseases away or cure illnesses to some extent. They add taste, colour, and flavour to the food and are highly aromatic. Spices are derived from various plant parts like seeds, fruits, bark, buds, stigma, roots, and resin.
Tips To Use Herbs And Spices
Store them in dark, cool places
To keep the herbs and spices flavourful and fresh, how you store them plays a crucial role. They should be kept in a cool and dark environment, which does not sit under direct heat. So, keeping them away from your dishwasher, windows, oven, stove, microwave, etc. is crucial to produce heat.
Like all other food ingredients, spices and herbs come with an expiry date. The flavour of the spice or herb will become dull while their colour may change too. For example, paprika will turn brown from bright red if expired. Before using them, have a good smell to check their aroma. If the spice or herb is not releasing much aroma, they will not provide taste to your food too. And also, replace them as soon as possible.
Unlike the spices that would add flavour even after cooking the meal, dried herbs require time to release flavour and must be added during cooking process. Dried herbs are generally used in sauces, stews, and long-cooking recipes where they are able to release their flavour completely. If you want to add dried spices to quick meals or food that do not cook for long, crush them between your palms so that they release their aroma and flavour quickly.
Use freshly-ground spices
Just like fresh fruits taste better than canned fruits, freshly ground spices are significantly more flavourful as compared to packed spices. This is because just like apples, spices become exposed to oxygen as soon as you process them and their quality keeps in deteriorating slowly. If you want the taste of the spices to remain fresh and strong, buy them in whole and then grind them in the grinder. Once you try this hack, you would not be able to step back from using it because the final dish tastes a lot better.
Also, you can play with how finely you grind the spices. For example, black pepper can be mild or spicy based on how finely it is ground. Finely ground pepper is harsh and hits your throat’s back while coarsely ground pepper is milder.
If you are using soft, large spices like mustard seeds, cardamom, close, peppercorns, juniper, etc., you can also use the bottom of a pan and crush them coarsely. This will release their flavour without needing the mixed grinder.
Toast the spices
To amplify the taste of the spices, you can toast spices in a dry pan as well before using them. This can be done both for ground and whole spices. However, if you are toasting finely ground spices, be careful because they are prone to burning.
Using herbs and spices is extremely crucial and without their usage, your dish would be completely bland. Employing the tips and ideas mentioned above, you can amp up your cooking easily.