Exploring Unique Spice Flavors

We generally know what to do with common spices and dried herbs like oregano, basil, cumin and cayenne. But when it comes to unique spices we have not heard of before, spices that seem difficult to incorporate into meals or spices that seem like they have one use, it can be challenging to decode their place in our food or get experimental with them. 

Exploring new flavors with less common spices can be a fun and exciting way to travel the world through your dinnertime meals, all you need is a little guidance in the right direction. This is why we’ve decided to put together a list of five spices that we thought might peak your interest and give you some ideas on where to add them next time you pull them out of your spice cabinet or dispense them from your TasteTro.

Fennel Seed– Coming from the anise family, this Mediterranean seed is bursting with fresh licorice flavour that is a bit lighter and brighter than its sister, star anise. Fennel seed is not only amazing on pork but give a whirl in your next homemade barbecue sauce and see how much it changes your barbecue game. You might be surprised at how well it complements the heavy smoky flavours of molasses, the astringent flavour of cumin and the sweetness of brown sugar. We really like pulled pork, a homemade barbecue sauce and apple fennel slaw on a bun. Add a ¼ tsp of ground fennel seed to our New Mexico chili blend and you can add a new layer of depth to its accompanying pull BBQ chicken sandwich recipe.

Szechuan Peppercorn– When we think of peppercorns, we tend to only think of black pepper. But there are so many great and unique peppercorns out there. We thought we’d showcase Szechwan peppercorns as they are a beautifully autumn red and brown colour, have a hot pepper spiciness to them that is a bit fierier than your normal black pepper and are on the sour and pungent side. They pair amazing with duck and other fattier meats as well as star anise and ginger. Next time you decide to roast a whole duck, think about adding this spice to the rub mix. Add a ¼ tsp of ground Szechuan peppercorn to our taste of Asia spice blend and crank up the heat on its accompanying tofu stir fry recipe.

Mace– Like nutmeg, but not. Mace is the strange looking soft shell that lies under the hard shell of the nutmeg. It’s fruitier and sweeter that nutmeg and adds brighter notes to baked goods. It goes super well in creamy cheese dishes or in bechamel sauce. A pinch of it in a seafood chowder does the dish wonders. Our bay seasoning currently has nutmeg in it but can be replaced with mace for a sweeter flavour in our crab cakerecipe.

Celery Seed– These bad boys are not just for Caesar and bloody Mary cocktail rims. They can be used in ‘bay’ seasoning next to cayenne, paprika and bay leaf. They add a pleasant bitter note to sweetness forward crab cakes and compliment Cajun/Creole dishes. They are pungent so a little goes a long way. Adding a ¼ tsp would go a long way in our spicy Creole blend and would pair perfectly in our prawn & chorizo gumbo.

Turmeric– This spice is probably the most popular on the list as it has been clouted for its natural health properties in recent years. Making its way from classic Indian dishes like curries and biryanis to modern health-forward uses such as elixirs and ‘lattes’. When you taste and smell turmeric on its own, it has a pungent and bittersweet taste and smell. It pairs well with coconut and makes a nice coconut milk ice cream. If you really want to do something different with this spice, try it in our turmeric cashew cakelets made from soaked and blended cashews. Adding a pinch of cinnamon with it will help make it taste sweeter and even more dessert-like.  

We hope that you enjoy the 20 spices and dried herbs as well as the 50 different spice blends we’ve chosen to showcase in our upcoming launch. As we grow, the addition of more spices and herbs will allow us to create more spice blend options so you can explore more of what the world of spices has to offer you in your kitchen and on your family dining table.