[Photograph: Max Falkowitz] About the author: Max Falkowitz is the editor of Serious Eats: New York. You can follow him on Twitter at @maxfalkowitz....
'spice hunting' on Serious Eats
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.
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.
Render bacon till really crisp, fry Korean rice cakes in the bacon fat, then stir fry half a head of napa cabbage in what's left. Combine everything together with enough gochujang to make a sauce for a meal that takes almost no effort but reaps boundless rewards.
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.
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.
Adobo is more a cooking style than a recipe. Pork, chicken, fish, beef, or pretty much any protein you want can be adobo'd. Some cooks swear by coconut milk, others consider it verboten. You can add coriander, cumin, and chiles (smoked or fresh), or just stick to classic bay leaf, as I've done here. Even the inclusion of soy sauce is negotiable. There are few rules with adobo, and fewer agreements about what constitutes it.
Gingerbread spices are endlessly customizable. This version balances warm, spicy flavors against cool, citrus-y ones, and has a cool finish of cardamom, anise, and black pepper. Unless you have a very good source for ground ginger, you're best grinding your own from whole dried versions. A microplane makes a quick job of them.
Use Spanish chorizo here, which is a dried sausage made with smoked paprika. Firm, meaty green olives are the best in this recipe. Read up on saffron to make sure you're getting the good stuff.
[Photograph: Max Falkowitz] Canned chipotles in adobo sauce bring sweet smoke, earthiness, and plenty of heat to vinegar- and chorizo-spiked beans. I'm partial to bola roja beans, which are firm, meaty, and handle stewing nearly forever, but any red bean...
Apples and rosemary practically sing for roast pork (the juniper doesn't hurt either), but this chutney also plays nicely with roasted root vegetables, cabbage, soups, and cheese plates. Rosemary acts as a supporting player here, a foil for the apples.
Eggplant takes well to the dark, sultry flavors of urfa biber, all the more so when charred first over blistering heat. Use a high-fat strained yogurt for the sauce, or it might break.
This is high summer dessert at its finest: boozy, bawdy peaches with tart berries and a pecan-studded buttery topping, brightened and made perfect by the inclusion of lemon zest and mace. Use firmer, less ripe peaches here so they don't fall apart. The raspberries, on the other hand, will melt in the oven, so use whatever you have (frozen ones work well).
Young, firm eggplants are the best for this dish. Cook them just till they char and become tender, any longer and they will turn mushy. After a few seconds, they will absorb all the oil in the pan; they will cook just fine without the need for more.
There as many versions of dal as there are Indian cooks. This is just one of mine, made with red split lentils and with no vegetable other than onions. The flavor is very South Indian, but the use of butter instead of oil (I actually use the spiced clarified butter niter kibbeh) and the inclusion of vadouvan at the end (to refresh the soup's flavor) take this out of strictly traditional territory.
Piloncillo takes extremely well to spicy sauces flavored with dried chiles, as well as to the juicy tartness of tomatillos. This is my go-to chile sauce for recipes like tacos, enchiladas, and chilaquiles. Use it with or separately from the chicken that braises in it (the recipes makes extra sauce, which can be frozen and used later).
This pasta dish can be as simple or complicated as you want it to be. Written here, it's a celebration of spaghetti at its most simple. If you want to jazz it up, try some finely crumbled sausage, charred corn, or a bit of chopped spring onion or leek.
This is a simple salad, but it's all about playing off the different flavors of Tasmanian pepper, soaked in the dressing before serving. Raw fennel's complex sweetness and astringency highlights the spice's fruitiness and pepper-like bite. Oranges magnify its hints of bright fruits and flowers, while smoky roasted red pepper lets the spice's earthiness shine. The bed of arugula gives the salad body, and its bitterness does well with Tasmanian pepper's juniper-like alpine qualities.
Thick, creamy, intensely-spiced sauces are an essential component of Peruvian cooking. Dairy, usually some combination of milk and fresh cheese, is blended with flavorful herbs or chiles as well as thickeners like bread, crackers, and nuts. Black mint sauce is one of these canonical sauces.
This recipe comes straight from one of my favorite places to eat in Chicago, Birrieria Zaragoza. All they serve is birria, a Mexican goat stew served with fresh thick tortillas, and it's impeccable, moan-worthy. But on my last pilgrimage, chef Jonathan Zaragoza offered me this dessert, the best panna cotta I've ever eaten.