Tag Archives: gourmet cooking

Seasoning Your Food: Heat vs Spice

Don’t worry, this will not be a rant! Although it could be, I am going to take it the other way and use it as an opportunity to educate people about preparing food properly. Nowadays, with the rising popularity of genetically modified peppers and the presence of Sriracha on every table in the United States, it’s obvious that the average adult and young adult’s palette favors spiciness.

People want heat. Furious Pete and other food enthusiasts eat Moruga Scorpions and Ghost Peppers whole while millions watch. Those are multiple times spicier than the habanero you’ve probably heard of at some point in time. Some might think it’s insane, but it’s reality and the gourmet world has been affected as well. So here are some important tips to remember when you are making your own food or ordering it from someone else.

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1. There is spice and there is spice. Some use spice to refer to heat, Scoville units, etc. Spices are used to preserve, color, and FLAVOR food. They can be roots, seeds, leaves, and many other items that are used for their ability to enhance food. There are over 300 spices that are used in the culinary arts and they all have unique properties. Don’t just rely on a few and go outside the box.

2. Don’t settle for heat. Sometimes when people fail to develop proper flavor in a dish, they just cover it in hot sauce. (I put hot sauce on my egg whites when I eat them in bulk.) If you’re trying to create a dish with a rich and deep flavor profile, keep experimenting until you get that level of near perfection. Don’t just throw hot sauce on it… don’t give up!

3. Heat and spice can create amazing flavors. Ever had Thai or Indian food? Ethiopian? (We could go on for hours.) When chefs can merge extreme heat and still retain the flavor development of less dominant spices, it shows incredible skill and the results are amazing. When that same chef can alter the level of heat without changing the presence of the other flavors, it’s mastery.

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So there you have it, a few things to remember when seasoning your food. Eventually, we might have some more posts about specific spices. Remember, don’t settle for that hot sauce. Keep trying different ratios of spices and preparations (toasting) so that you can cook your own meals at home that you love. Restaurants are a nice treat but no one knows what you want more than you do! As always, stay hungry and fit!

BONUS KITTY PIC

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The Spice Lab at UncommonGoods

11 Pyrex test tubes. 1 custom wood holder. 1 tasting spoon. 1 passport to the world of SALT. All of this tucked snugly in the perfect sized box as an amazing gift idea for the right person.

This gourmet collection of eleven of the finest salts that the United States has to offer provides a grand variety of flavor, color, and texture. If you are color-blind, then you’re a bit out of luck, but if you can, see all the colors of the rainbow and more. Then the small card that comes with the set tells you what the salts pair nicely with: vegetables, chicken, red meat, fish, sauces & soup. It also tells you if they work for finishing, cooking, and/or table. 

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It gets maximum points for appearance and design, so let’s talk about the product and why someone would want such a collection of salts.

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a PROFESSIONAL chef been sent home on Chopped or any other competitive cooking show for a lack of seasoning. More than any other offense, that lack of season comes from using little or no salt. Salt really is an amazing thing in the culinary and gourmet world. It can seem so simple but can augment the complexities of flavors that other ingredients offer. It’s not just about adding salt to water before cooking pasta, it’s also about using salt to FINISH dishes right before they hit the table. 

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Here is a break down of my favorite salts in the collection and why they can make your dishes taste THAT much better without any negative health effects. (SALT is healthy, and soon Hungry & Fit will tell you why!

Best Taste: Carolina Hickory. The amount of flavor that they managed to pack into each grain of salt in this tube is unbelievable. It’s as potent as some of the best BBQ that I have ever had.

Best Fragrance: Apple Wood Smoked. Simply, an explosion of smell when you open the test tube. These larger pieces of salt have quite the abundant fragrance and with the popularity surge of bacon in recent years, everyone would love this smell.

Best Texture: Seneca Salt Flakes. Hailing from New York, these pieces of salt have the most majestic form. They remind me of large snow flakes from Quebec. Absolutely gorgeous and with their plain white color, they are the perfect finishing salt for look.

Best Overall: Vintage Merlot Infused. A beautiful purple color. A subtle salty aroma. A delicate flavor that brings out the best in other ingredients. This California Sea Salt is versatile and show stopping. 

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All of this is not to say that the other salts are lacking, they just have a more specific duty. The variety offers something for everyone, but we will make good use of all the sea salts.

This present will be perfect for anyone involved in nutrition or the culinary arts. A mother or father that enjoys cooking for the family or a professional chef can appreciate this. As an inspiring chef when I was just a child, I would have loved to experiment with these different flavors. And this isn’t the only salt collection or culinary delight that can be found at UncommonGoods.

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This unique company has a lot to offer: putting artists first with amazing hand-crafted goods, being a B Corp to use their business to try to solve social and environmental issues, and a big heart. For every item you purchase, UncommonGoods donates $1 to the non-profit of your choice–now that’s something we can get behind! There are many more cool products just like this one at UncommonGoods. Click here for ideas for gifts for women and click here for gift ideas for that special, unique someone. I know I could spend days looking through their stuff…well, I may already have. Just visit the website and have fun exploring all of the amazing gifts, for others or yourself, since the holiday season is just around the corner! And as always, stay hungry and fit!