The World of Spices
In this column, Ann gets right to the flavor of the topic, so . . . . . take notes! With no further adieu, we turn the mike to Ann. You're on Ann . . . . .
The Spice Rubs
I love rubs! This great inspiration from the barbecue industry is so
useful not only with low and slow cooking, but also in grilling and saute.
The spicy crust provides a great flavor contrast to the interior which is
largely unaffected and maintains the pure taste of the unadorned
ingredient, except in slow cooking with smoke. In that situation, the
smoke becomes part of the flavor. Rubs produce more intensely flavored
dishes since rubs are composed of spices undiluted by liquids and since
they adhere to the surface of foods better than marinades. Finally, no
need to plan for soaking time in the marinade. Put the spices onto the
meat and throw it on the grill.
Curry and Chili powder are combinations of spices which, when combined,
form a flavor marriage superior and very different from any of the single
ingredients. This same marriage of flavors is what we achieve with a great
rub. Most of you have been creating rubs for many years and some of you
have wonderful ones.
What makes a great rub? Perfectly caramelized sweet which causes the meat
to have a beautiful color. Rich taste that explodes in the mouth. Of
course, tender and flavorful meat. Those of you who have created
successful rubs often tell me that it was an accident. I don't really
believe it. Intuitively, all of us know so much more than we are conscious
of knowing. My job is to bring unconscious knowledge to full consciousness
as well as to hopefully bring new knowledge.
Knowing how to combine many flavors and aromas to achieve a simple result
and, knowing when not to combine flavors, will make the difference between
a good and great cook. So many more flavor combinations are possible. We
have never had the variety of spices or the knowledge of world cuisines
that we have today.
I wish there were clear cut rules for combining herbs and spices to come up
with wonderful taste. There aren't. Recently, I heard a cooking school
teacher commenting on how often, in combining spices, we get an
uninteresting muddle because we use too many herbs and/or spices. She
suggested a rule of only using two or, at most, three herbs in any one
dish. Oh, I thought, what a great rule until I remembered Herb's de
Provence, that wonderful blend of 5 to 12 different herbs that has been the
backbone of cooking of Provence for more than a hundred years. This is no
short cut. One has to know not only how each ingredient taste but also how
they react together. Garlic on shrimp is very different from garlic on
steak. In some cases, combining even two herbs or two spices may be
hazardous. Nutmeg and mace are so close that combining them would be
counter productive in most cases. Tarragon and basil are too similar in
flavor and to different in aroma to combine successfully.
The following is a chart of flavor intensifies on a scale of "1000" as the
strongest flavor and "0" being no flavor.
|800||Mustard Powder (wet)||125||Cardamom|
|450||Black Pepper||90||Poppy Seed|
|320||Caraway Seed||70||Sweet Basil|
|300||Celery Seed||65||Summer Savory|
|290||Cumin Seed||65||Anise Seed|
|260||Curry Powder Blend||60||Onion|
|230||Coriander Seed||25||Sesame Seed|
|220||Turmeric|| || |
Copyright (c) 1998, by:
Ann D. Wilder, President
VANN Spices, Ltd.
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