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August 2018

Hidden Treasures: The Best Spices That You’re Not Using

herbs and spices storeThe road to creating a culinary masterpiece is often riddled with unexpected bumps and ruts. Lots of things can impede your progress, from unexpected recipe failures, to adjusting cooking times and temps, to ingredient malfunctions. This is often why we stay in a rut that feels the most comfortable to us, a.k.a. chicken breast and spaghetti on the regular. However, take it from us, your friendly local herbs and spices store: going off course and trying something new is the best way to get out of a rut. Why not make something unique and tasty for dinner tonight?

Another suggestion while traveling the road to delicious horizons? Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for hidden treasures along the way. The hidden treasures that we’re referring to include under-utilized ingredients. You know, those ingredients that you’ve never used because you’re just not sure how it will come out? Or perhaps they just seem a little complex and intimidating. Well, this is where we come in.

Being in the spice business, as your herbs and spices store of choice, we see an array of tasty ingredients that we know will add pizzazz to your next meal go mostly unnoticed. So we’ve decided to give these under-the-radar spices the recognition they deserve, as the best spices you’re not using.

Saigon Cinnamon

Used primarily for its aromatic bark, Saigon cinnamon is a form of cassia, but with a more pronounced and complex aroma, Saigon cinnamon is also called Vietnamese cinnamon. It comes from an evergreen tree indigenous in Southeast Asia and consists of 1-5% essential oils, which is the highest percentage of all cinnamon species. It is sweeter and stronger than cassia. For these reasons, Saigon cinnamon is often considered the best cinnamon. The Saigon cinnamon that we sell at Old Town Spice Shop is 5% essential oil.

Urfa Biber Chile Flakes

The curing process of this Turkish chile, cultivated in the Urfa region of Turkey, leaves a high moisture content and encourages complex smoky flavors of rich chocolate, roasted coffee, and tangy raisins. Excellent raw, sprinkled over pungent cheeses, or cooked into sauces for braised meats, these chiles even taste good on ice cream. Urfa biber is less spicy than many other chile peppers, but provides a more lasting build of heat. According to Food and Wine Magazine, it is quickly becoming a go-to ingredient for chefs across the country.

Dulse

Dulse is harvested in the cool water along the Atlantic coast of Canada and also along the shores of Ireland and Norway. This sea vegetable is full of potassium, iodine, Vitamin B, fiber, and protein. Dulse can be eaten raw, roasted, fried, dried, or as a thickening agent for soups. There are a number of alternate names for dulse seaweed, including sea parsley, dilsk, creathnach, and sol. It has a hint of salty marine flavor and can be used as a substitute for salt.

kaffir lime leavesKaffir Lime Leaves

The kaffir lime leaf is essential when cooking Thai curries and soups; however, an array of dishes can benefit from the flavor. One of the most aromatic of all herbs, ground kaffir lime leaves are an easy way to add a floral citrus flavor to soups, curries, and homemade curry pasta. And according to thespruceeats.com, if a recipe calls for kaffir lime leaves and you don’t have them, do not substitute with another ingredient, as there is no replacement for the unique flavor the kaffir lime leaf imparts to a dish.

These are just a few of the hidden ingredient treasures that you will definitely want to try in your next culinary creation. If you would like to learn about other tasty spices that you’re likely not using but should be, swing on by our herbs and spices store located in Fort Collins, CO, or check out our online spice store for more delicious suggestions. Cooking is an adventure, so take an opportunity to smell, taste, ask questions, and go on this adventure with us. You’ll be glad you did!