'Spice Hunting' on Serious Eats

Taste Test: A Guide to Black Pepper

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

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 Chicken

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

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

Achiote Oil

This fragrant red-orange oil can be used to color and flavor all sorts of Latin American and Caribbean rice dishes, stews, and braises. The oil forms a mild base to build layers of flavor with browned meat, onion, garlic, fresh chile, citrus, cumin, and tomato. More

Spice Hunting: Berbere, Ethiopian Chili Powder

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

Beef Tibs

The sauce in this dish gets its kick from berbere, an Ethiopian chili powder fragrant with cardamom, fenugreek, and clove. Use it once and you'll see why a good chunk of Ethiopian cuisine is built on it. More

Baked Eggplant with Lamb and Walnut Sauce

A Turkish-inspired dish with a ragu as complex as bolognese that can be made in a fraction of the time. The principal spice blend in the sauce is called janissary spice, the product of Turkish spice blender in Istanbul, but it's easy to replicate at home. Seek out maraş chiles, which are intensely sweet, not that hot, and carry the rich flavors of sun-warmed tomatoes with hints of red bell pepper for the blend. You can find them at Cambridge's Formaggio Kitchen and Oakland's Market Hall foods (both sell online as well). Easier-to-find aleppo makes a good, if not more tart and spicy substitute. More

Spice Hunting: Seven Spice Powder (Shichimi Togarashi)

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

Seven Spice Pork Lettuce Wraps

You can size up these patties to make full-on pork burgers, but I prefer smaller ones to wrap in tender lettuce and dip in a garlic-laced soy dipping sauce. Be careful not to compress the meat when forming the patties; they should just hold themselves together. Leftover dipping sauce can be served over rice or stir fried with leafy green vegetables as a side dish. More

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