Learn their names: togarashi, vadouvan, za’atar, ras-el-hanout. These are some of the intense, complex spice blends that you’ll find in the kitchens of the chefs we’re most excited about right now, from Sara Kramer at Madcapra in L.A. to Yotam Ottolenghi at his eponymous London spots. They practice what cooks the world over have long known: Spices taste good on their own, but a whole bunch of them—carefully combined—taste sublime. And now it’s time to learn how to blend them yourself. Why? Because once you’ve got a batch or two in your arsenal, you’re just a lid twist and a spoonful away from adding huge, eyebrow-raising flavor to everything from roast chicken to grilled veggies.
We spent the morning with Atef Boulaabi, the genius behind the NYC spice emporium SOS Chefs. She showed us just how easy mixing the heady Ethiopian blend known as berbere (bahr-beh-REE) actually is. “This isn’t pastry,” she said, as the scent of musky toasted cumin seed and dark, sweet cinnamon filled the shop. “It’s not an exact, restrained science—it’s emotional. Every one is different.” Boulaabi gave us the intel you’ll need to source, toast, grind, and create your own potent mix at home.
1. Start Fresh
Spices lose their oomph as they sit, so those jars lingering on supermarket shelves won’t cut it. Seek out stores that specialize or markets that sell in bulk and do brisk business, or buy online at sos-chefs.com.
2. Toast for the Most
Heat coaxes flavor out of spices. Crush a 5″ cinnamon stick into small pieces with the back of a chef’s knife. Toast cinnamon, 9 whole cloves, and 1 Tbsp. allspice berries in a dry medium skillet over medium heat, tossing constantly, just until you can smell them—about 2 minutes. Then throw in 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds and 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds and toast, tossing constantly, until the spices are super fragrant and the cumin starts to brown, about 1 minute longer. Move the toasted spices to a bowl.
3. Go Superfine
Once the spices have cooled, use a spice mill to grind them to a fine powder. Add 1½ tsp. cayenne pepper, 1½ tsp. ground ginger, ½ tsp. finely crushed dried oregano (ideally Italian), and ¾ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg, and pulse until the whole thing looks ruddy and uniform (no clumps!).
4. Don’t Wait
This recipe makes about ½ cup. Aim to use that up within 3 months, while it’s still pungent and fresh-tasting. Better to make it often (it’s also a good opportunity to tweak the formula to your liking) than to let it languish in the back of your cabinet with that ancient bottle of Mrs. Dash.
How to Use It
What doesn’t your new spice blend complement? We’re still looking. Try one of these suggestions from Test Kitchen contributor Rick Martinez:
Cook skinless halibut fillets in a skillet until golden brown on one side. Flip and add butter and berbere to the pan. Spoon butter over fillets until cooked through. Serve with lemon.
Toss small carrots, fennel slices, and/or red onion wedges with olive oil, salt, and berbere. Roast at 425° until tender and browned, 25–30 min.
Thin yogurt with fresh orange juice, sweeten with honey, and season with berbere and orange zest. Drizzle over mango and papaya. Serve with crushed toasted pistachios and more berbere.
Get the recipe: Berbere Spice Mix
The post This Simple, Homemade Spice Blend Is the Only Seasoning You Need in Your Pantry appeared first on Bon Appétit.
from Bon Appétit http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/how-to/article/spice-blends