Cooking Help: Spices/Seasonings

Gordon Ramsay’s take on Coronation Chicken.

Yay, garam masala. I know a nifty idea for this one…

Red Stripe Beef Curry

2 lbs stew beef, cubed
2 medium onions, chopped (about 1/2 cup - 3/4 cup)
1 tsp grated/minced ginger
3-4 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 12 oz bottle Red Stripe beer
2 tblspns tomato paste
2 medium waxy potatoes, cut into 1-inch slices

Spice Mixture:
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (OR 2-3 whole cardamom pods)
1/2 tsp ground cumin (OR 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds)
1/4 - 1 tsp cayenne (depending on how spicy you want it)
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 bay leaves
1 tsp garam masala (add 1/2 tsp later to finish)
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp salt

  1. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Brown well in a bit of hot oil, remove cubes to slow cooker as they finish browning. Deglaze pan with a bit of the beer, stir up the brown bits, then pour into slow cooker.

  2. Wipe out pan. Add 1 tblspn neutral oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add onions, ginger, and garlic. Stir for 1 minute, then add tomato paste and spice mixture. Stir well and cook until spices are fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.

  3. Pour in the rest of the beer. Stir for 30 seconds, then pour the whole thing in the slow cooker over the beef. Layer the potatoes on top.

  4. Throw lid on and cook on low for 7-10 hours, depending on how soft you like the beef.

  5. Before serving, sprinkle extra 1/2 tsp of garam masala. Add salt to taste.

Onion (dehydrated); obviously, I know what to use this for. Best if tossed out.
Sage; mostly, I use this with poultry and/or stuffing for poultry. Or with pork.
Rosemary; pairs beautifully with poultry and pork. Best with lamb. Or toss with potato chunks and olive oil: roast.
Basil; I’m not so sure about this; I’ve used basil as an element in seasoning blends, but can’t recall ever buying it by itself. Dried basil is Satan’s dandruff.
Sichuan Peppercorns; not sure about these, but I’m guessing they’re pretty spicy, so I would use them sparingly. Very hot, used in some Chinese dishes.
Minced Garlic; easy. As with dried onion, use only in desperation.
Chinese Five Spice; I only have one recipe in my repertoire that uses this, but I bet I could think of other uses for it. I like the hit of licorice! Actually works well in some cookie recipes.
Ginger; I’m very familiar with it. See comment for dried garlic, only not as bad.
Parsley; easy. Satan’s wife’s dandruff, but can be used in a pinch.

Basil is good paired with most any sort of tomato dish. Although, dried basil is best used in tomato-based sauces rather than on fresh tomatoes.

That herb mix sounds like it might be nice blended into some cream cheese to make a nice cracker or sandwich spread.

I like to use ground mustard in my seasoning blend for fried chicken. I also use it in both mild sauces for fish and bold sauces for ham. It’s also very valuable in homemade barbecue sauce.

Hey, if 1) you’re going to toss any of the spices, and 2) you garden, toss the spices out over your plants (once’ it’s spring in your area again). They don’t have much flavor/scent for cooking, but I bet they have just enough to repel a few bugs. :slight_smile:

Actually, I agree with you on a lot of this (except the basil, because I can’t recall ever using it dried), but IME, the dried/minced stuff is very good for making rubs and such for marinating meats.

These are pretty cool and interesting. They are not spicy, but they are used in Sichuan cuisine, which is known to be very (hot) spicy. The flavor profile of much cooking of the region is described by the concept “má là,” or “numbing (and) spicy.” These are two flavors, not one. The spicy part of the flavor profile comes from the chilis in the area. The numbing part comes from Sichuan peppercorns. Sichuan peppercorns have zero heat, but they do funny things to your mouth. The best way I could describe them is they have a bit of a herbal and citrussy flavor, along with what feels like a weak dose of Novocaine. They cause the edges of my tongue to get slightly numb, and seem to put the salivary glands into overdrive. First time I had one on its own, I thought I was having an allergic reaction. Turns out, it’s normal. They’re pretty neat.

Now there is some good advice!

I don’t know how overlyverbose is doing right now, but she’s an excellent source for Indian food know-how.

I use the Chinese five-spice powder every time I make stir-fry. It’s great for marinating the chicken in, and then I toss a bit in at the very end.

Interesting. I always associated them with hot food and assumed them to be the culprit.

Nope. No heat. If you can find some, go ahead and buy some; try them and report back. They were banned in the US from 1968-2005 because of the citrus canker virus (and their ability to spread it), so they’re still relatively new here.

Great idea! I didn’t have the suggestion soon enough to marinate the chicken for tonight’s slow-cooked teriyaki chicken, but I did add a bit to the teriyaki sauce. :slight_smile:

The type of curry powder likely contained in the spice rack is of the yellow variety, right? That’s excellent for Vietnamese cooking. If you combine it with some chicken or other protein of your choice, a bag of veggies and some coconut milk, toss in a little brown sugar (maybe 1-2 tbsp), plus soy sauce to taste, you’ll have a really good dish to go over rice. Adding green onions and strips of lemongrass makes it even better. In order, you’d do chicken first, then veggies and lemon grass (not green onions yet), dump in the coconut milk, brown sugar and soy, mix in 1 tbsp of the curry powder, then make sure to simmer it for a while to make the meat really tender and give the flavors some time to blend - you only need to simmer for 10 minutes or so. If it’s too thick for your tastes, add water or chicken broth and adjust seasonings accordingly. Add some peanuts for even more added deliciousness.

For the garam masala, if you’ve never used it before, I’d make some garlicky creamed spinach and add it to that. Dash in a little cumin and some cayenne if you like and you’ll have a nice palak-type (spinach curry) dish, which is pretty typical North Indian. You can toss in a can of chickpeas or sautee and add some mushrooms. This is also good with rice, but if you can get your hands on some durum to make roti or some frozen naans, I’d recommend doing that.

And, thanks, lindsaybluth!

Good, you’re back! Just in time for me to steal you from your family so you can come and cook at my house :wink:

I use Garam Masala to make Chai tea. In fact, I’ve found that no chai tea mix tastes right to me, so it’s the only way I’ll drink it.

First, I go to world market and pay something like $8 gajillion for high quality Indian or Chinese black tea. Throw a couple teaspoons in my Bodum tea ball.

Next, I toss in a little less than a teaspoon of the garam masala and add honey, or sugar if I’m feeling froggy.

Pour in boiling water. Steep five minutes. While the tea is steeping, pour 2-3 ounces of heavy cream or whole milk into a mug and nuke for 20-30 seconds – just enough to warm it up a little. Whisk like hell for a couple minutes to make a nice milk froth. Plunge the tea in the teaball, pour over my frothy milk = Best. Chai. Evar.

No, it’s more a kind of brick-red or cinnamon color.

Colman’s mustard is great for deviled eggs, and to make a hot mustard for roast beef, ham, and egg rolls. For this last, add water to the dry mustard to make a thick sauce.

A little goes a long way here.

Basil is one of my go-to cooking herbs. I use it on buttered noodles, in rice, in mac 'n cheese, in spaghetti sauce, on baked potatoes, on roast pork (along with rosemary), and probably a few more things I’m not remembering.

Well… if you want to make your own Ranch dressing, you pretty much have to use powdered garlic and onion or it doesn’t taste right.

I’d say none of them are necessarily evil, just best used in limited situations.

Sichuan peppercorns aren’t hot, but they produce this weird sensation that feels like the love child of Orajel and sticking your tongue on a 9-volt battery. Sort of like numbed, but with a zap at first. If they have flavor at all, it’s a sort of citrusy flavor.

Some of the spices (dried ginger) work well for baking also, even though for cooking, it wouldn’t be so great.

I got a stainless steel spice rack recently myself, from Amazon. It had a random selection of spices, most of which I don’t forsee myself using. I think you got a better random selection than I did. Really, I’d have paid the same money for just the rack. But, I hate to throw away even the ones I’m pretty sure I won’t use.

I looked into curry a bit, because I had something delicious at a Caribbean joint that I was sure could be made at home.

One thing I’ve discovered is that there seems to be a certain ur-recipe that many recipies I see are variants of. It’s something like this:

  1. Dice an onion, fry it in butter or oil until it starts to clear.
  2. Add curry powder, possibly also ginger, and keep cooking.
  3. After a while, add more aeromatic spices such as garlic, cinnamon, ect, whatever the hell you like and keep cooking.
  4. Add meat, cut into bit-sized bits. Keep frying.
  5. When the meat is mostly cooked, throw in some liquid base to create a sauce all of the sudden. Yogurt or coconut milk are good for this, but by this point anything is liable to be yummy.
  6. Put a lid on it and let it simmer.
  7. Serve over rice, maybe over bread, or you could just stand over the stove in your underwear eating it right out of the pan. I’m sure you’ll think of something to pour it all the hell over.

Also, I’ve found that curry powder is a great seasoning for pork chops. Just sprinkle it on both sides and bake. So good.

Of course, “Curry Powder” varies so much it may affect your results. I suspect the others are right that buying it in bulk from hippie stores is your best bet. Sooner or later I’ll probably experiment until I have my own blend that I can make from the bulk raw ingredients available cheap from the local Indian grocery store.