Spice Hunting

Your guide to the world of herbs and spices—how to spot them, where to get them, and how to cook with them


Taste Test: A Guide to Black Pepper

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 18 comments

There's no shortage of places to get your black pepper from; as one of the world's most popular spices, it's grown all across the world's spice regions, from India to Indonesia to Ecuador and Brazil. We don't talk much about terroir when it comes to spices, but it's worth thinking about. After all, peppercorns are fruits just like grapes, and soil, growing conditions, and variety of peppercorn are all going to have an impact on flavor profile. How strong are these flavor differences, and how do they pan out with food? We tasted peppercorns from seven major growing regions to find out. More

5 Great Spices for Grilled Beef

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Sure, we've talked about grilled lamb already, and we've dabbled with chicken. But let's be honest: if you're grilling this summer, you're grilling beef. Sure, great beef—be it a fat porterhouse, a svelte skirt steak, or a classed up filet mignon—doesn't really need anything more than salt (and fine, maybe some pepper and butter), but a few choice spices don't hurt. More

5 Great Spices for Grilled Lamb

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 3 comments

The arrival of Spring means some wonderful things, like new harvests of ramps, peas, and asparagus. But it also means a new batch of tender, fatty, wonderfully flavorful lamb. Here are five great spices for lamb on the grill. More

5 Great Spices for Grilled Chicken

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 10 comments

There are some choices additions for grilled chicken to boost its flavor all the more—especially spices. Stick to spices that complement the roasted, meaty flavors of grilling. Check out the slideshow for our favorite grilled chicken spices, and how to use them for your next grill session. More

Spice Hunting: Caraway

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 10 comments

I've been wanting to write about caraway all winter long, but somehow winter never happened and I never got around to that bowl of sauerkraut stew. Fortunately, loving caraway isn't weather-dependent, and this spice has plenty of uses beyond flavoring your sauerkraut or adding texture to your rye bread. Caraway is a great spice for adding Old World flavor to modern dishes. More

Spice Hunting: Annato Seeds (Achiote)

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 6 comments

Pop quiz: What spice is used in Latin American rice dishes, English cheese manufacturing, and Vietnamese braises? Okay, the title of the post gives this one away. But let's talk about annato for a minute, the great understudy of the spice world. More

Spice Hunting: Berbere, Ethiopian Chili Powder

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 6 comments

Like niter kibbeh, berbere is used in a bunch of Ethiopian dishes, either as a primary spice or an added layer of flavor. You can think of it like Ethiopian chili powder: a chile-based blend at once earthy, sweet, and hauntingly aromatic, with notes of fragrant cardamom, fenugreek, and clove. It'd be a mistake to say that berbere is a one-stop Ethiopian cooking lesson, but it's a damn good start. One whiff and your sense memories will definitely say, "Ethiopian restaurant." More

Spice Hunting: Gochujang, Korean Chile Paste

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 23 comments

Sriracha's lovely. Harissa is a fiery punch in the mouth with flavor to match. But if you're looking for a sweeter, funkier flavor from your chiles, gochujang (pronounced go-choo-jong) is the thing for you. More

Spice Hunting: Make Spice Kits for Fast, Creative Cooking

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 2 comments

If I have all the time in the world, I'll make small batch of blended spices for every dish I cook, but since that rarely happens, I rely on spice kits. A spice kit is basically a blend-to-be, a shortcut that can still be customized for specific dishes. Stashing spices together will make you more likely to use them. More

Spice Hunting: How to Increase Your Spice Tolerance

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 18 comments

A common complaint I hear from spice newbies is that their palates just can't take hot dishes. And while I'm not one of those people who eats spicy food just for the sake of it, some of the world's best cuisines employ heat as an essential part of their flavor profile. So what's a globally-minded spice wimp to do? More

Spice Hunting: New Things To Do with Mint

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 20 comments

Leftover mint is a killer for me. Unless I'm making some kind of minty ice cream, in which case my technique is use ALL the mint!, I usually have some leftover leaves in the fridge. Mint expires especially quickly; here are some technique-based applications that you can whip up at a moment's notice. More

Spice Hunting: Palm and Coconut Sugar

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 19 comments

Spice Hunting's tour of the world of specialty sugars has already explored earthy turbinado and rummy piloncillo; now it's time to talk about my absolute favorite: palm sugar. More

Spice Hunting: Seven Spice Powder (Shichimi Togarashi)

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 8 comments

At first glance seven spice powder may sound like a variant on Chinese five spice powder, but they couldn't be more different. Or rather, they're exactly as different as their native cuisines. Five spice, fragrant with sweet and spicy anise flavors, is the perfect compliment to meaty Chinese braises and barbecues. On the other hand, seven spice powder, or what the Japanese call shichimi togarashi, is practically built for the grilled meats, noodles, rice, and soups that so characterize Japanese cooking. More

Spice Hunting: How To Spice Up Winter Citrus

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 1 comment

For something light and bright in the depth of winter, nothing beats citrus. Except that the parade of bright and tart and sour can get a little tiring after a while, especially when it's the only flavor of its kind on the plate. Spices are my favorite way to round out the harsh flavors of citrus and bring them more in line with this frigid season. More

Spice Hunting: How to Keep Those New Years Resolutions with Spices

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 3 comments

Every year we get older we're supposed to get wiser, but that doesn't seem to stop us from making the same impossible-to-keep resolutions come New Years. The most common food resolutions—the generic eat better, healthier, or more adventurously—are also the most difficult to keep. This year I'll be using spices to keep on track. Here are some tips that may help out your New Years food resolutions as deliciously as possible. More

Spice Hunting: Bay Leaf, The Herb That Thinks It's A Spice

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 12 comments

Bay may not be the flashiest flavor in the cook's toolbox, but it's more potent than you may think. The trick is to think of it like a spice, not an herb. A spice with a bit of mint, a bit of thyme, some oregano, and aspects of coriander and clove. Just like allspice sings backup to cinnamon and nutmeg, bay brings the best out of warm spices and meaty flavors. More

Spice Hunting: Make Your Own Holiday Spice Blends

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During the holiday season there's a lot of edible DIY going on. Cookies are baked, jams are jarred, fruits are boozed up for rumtopf and fruitcake. Some may be gifts, some excuses to treat ourselves during a festive time of year. If you're looking for an easy, rewarding food project but can't stomach the thought of more sugar cookies, you may want to consider mixing up your own spice blends for the holidays. More

How to Mull Wine, or, How to Brew Pure Happiness in 3 Hours or Less

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 7 comments

It's time to get out the crockpot, holiday spices, and cheap Cab to brew up a batch of mulled wine. Mulling wine is a set-it-and-forget-it enterprise that rewards you all day long. It's cheap, easy, and forgiving. And after mulling (and sipping) a good gallon of wine this past weekend, I have some tips to get the most out of your brew. More

Gift Guide: For The Spice Lover

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 1 comment

Whether it's a secret homemade spice blend, a bottle of specially infused liquor, or a gorgeous nutmeg grinder, spices and spice accessories make great gifts for curious cooks. Here are some suggestions for the spice-lover in your life. More

5 Ways to Organize Your Spice Rack

Spice Hunting Max Falkowitz 41 comments

If you're unsatisfied with your current spice storage system, here are some methods to consider. I don't think there's such a thing as a perfect system—so much depends on your needs, your spices, and available space—so rather than recommend one approach, I've listed pros and cons for each. More

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