Calling all cooks...a question on spices.

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ted Lee, Aug 5, 2002.

  1. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    any gourmet cooks out there?
    i always wonder when is the appropriate time to add spices to your food when cooking.
    1. early in the cooking stage (so that the spices can "infuse" the ingrediants)?
    2. later in the cooking stage (so that the spices stay fresh and/or so that the flavors aren't cooked out)?
    3. or does it depend on other factors?
    also, am i the only one who thinks that every cook in the world adds salt and pepper to just about everything? they sure do on the food network! [​IMG]
    just wondering. oh yeah - if you have any tips and tricks you'd like to share...go for it!
    ted
     
  2. Kevin Potts

    Kevin Potts Second Unit

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    Tips or tricks?
    Put garlic on everything.[​IMG]
     
  3. Kevin T

    Kevin T Screenwriter

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    i'll second the garlic recommendation. as far as the salt and pepper...they probably use them the most because they're cheap, readily available, and most people like them.

    kevin t
     
  4. Max Leung

    Max Leung Producer

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    Oddly I find salt-and-pepper chicken wings the best tasting of the wings served in most restaurants.

    Still, I would like to know the best way to flavour sauces with the available spices.
     
  5. Mark Romero

    Mark Romero Second Unit

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    I always add spices in the beginning.
     
  6. Stacey

    Stacey Stunt Coordinator

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    I almost always add spices at the beginning of cooking. Some recipes actually call for you to add spices to an oil in a pan and cook them for a moment or two before adding the main ingredient to be spiced (making Omlets this way come to mind).
    Garlic & Onion powder are the 2 main spices in my arsenel next to good old salt & pepper. [​IMG]
     
  7. John Thomas

    John Thomas Cinematographer

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    Somewhere along the way, I picked up the idea that one should add salt/pepper to a dish after he/she cooks it. I think the advice came with the information that adding it before will dilute the effect of the seasoning.
     
  8. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    thanks for the info folks! i asked some other people and this is sort of a summary:
    1. dried herbs: add near the beginning. they'll season the ingrediants as it cooks
    2. fresh herbs: add near the end. because they're fresh they'll cook out quicker
    3. oils: add the dried herbs to the oils early so that it'll flavor the oil[/list=1]

      regarding salt - they say if you use a lot of other preprocessed foods (cheese, etc) then don't add too much salt because those types of ingrediants already have a lot of salt.

      one guy who was a trained chef said in unprocessed food (raw meat, chicken, etc) you can add a liberal amount of kosher salt (which doesn't contain as much salt) to help flavor it. that's why you see all those cooks on food network season everything.
     
  9. Max Knight

    Max Knight Supporting Actor

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    For seasoning during cooking, don't use table salt, use kosher salt. It tasts better, and is easier to control (it's MUCH less salty than table salt).

    You should season with salt early on in the cooking process to enhance flavor, and let the salt disolve into the food. You can always add a bit more at the end if you need to. The key is to taste as you cook! That will let you know if you need a little more, or are just right.

    As for spices, it really depends on the recipe. Some recipes, like Indian style curry, rely on frying the spices for flavoring. Others will benefit from a late application. A good rule of thumb is that if you are cooking a stewed type of dish, or something that simmers, add spices early.

    Fresh herbs should be added toward the end if you want to keep their fresh flavor.
     
  10. Scott Leopold

    Scott Leopold Supporting Actor

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    The spice/herb you're using can determine when you add it, just as much as the dish you're preparing. If you're using an herb with a light flavor (basil, cilantro), it's best to add it at the end, whether you're using fresh or dried--although you should add the dried herb a little earlier than you would the fresh. Other herbs, such as bay leaf, have to be added early in order to infuse the dish with their taste.

    Spicy ingredients will lose some of their kick as you heat them, so when you add them depends on how hot you want the final dish to be. When I cook my chilli, I start with my peppers. I prefer to let the flavors blend slowly, giving it a richer flavor in the end. However, I use a ton of peppers, so it still ends up extremely spicy.

    I generally use little if any salt in my cooking. There's usually enough salt in the ingredients that the additional isn't necessary, IMO.

    Some spices taste much better when toasted first. If I have the time, and the whole spices, I'll toast them in a dry pan, then grind them into my dish.

    I love pepper, and will often add it throughout the cooking process. My special pepper blend uses 15 different peppers and other spices that have been used as pepper substitutes throughout history, including white, green, rose & szechuan pepper, long pepper, cubeb pepper, grains of paradise (which once sold for several times the cost of black pepper, back when black pepper was worth more than gold), black cardamom, allspice and several others. I blend it by hand, and it has an amazing, unique flavor.
     
  11. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    thanks again guys...

    btw scott - that pepper blend sounds amazing!
     
  12. Marshall Alsup

    Marshall Alsup Second Unit

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    I can't stress the importance of kosher salt enough. I've been using it for about 6 months now and I've found that it is a LOT better than normal salt. From my experience I've foud that kosher salt makes your food taste "stronger". In other words, it's taste is not salty, it simply tastes more like whatever your cooking. I dont know why that is, but it is.
    I salt the entire time something cooks. I usually add some at the beginning then more as time goes on (if it needs it of course). I just taste as I go and add salt if needed.
    For the most part I'll add all dry seasonings at the beginning and then taste about 3/4 of the way through if it needs more of something.
    I always add fresh herbs (especially basil) at the very end, and usually off the heat, unless a recipe says otherwise. The heat really dulls the flavor of the herbs, whereas if you add them at the end off the heat they'll be much stronger.
    Also, get a pepper grinder. I've had one for a couple years now and I can say that the pepper flavor is much better than the pre ground stuff.
    Also, I see you watch the Food Network. So do I. Check out the show Good Eats if you haven't already. The guy that does that show is a riot and he knows his shit! The show isn't so much a normal cooking show as a science show that happens to be about edible things [​IMG] I've learned more from that show than any other. The guy who hosts it also has a book out now and its great.
    Have fun,
    -Marshall
     
  13. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    marshall -

    i couldn't agree more! good eats is easily my favorite show on tfn. i also really like food 911 with that tyler guy.

    also, ever catch "a cook's tour" with that one guy? he goes to exotic places and eats the local cuisine - not the stuff you find in the fancy restaurants...but something you'd find in a dive or at someone's house. a great show if you want to see what truly authentic local cuisine is all about...
     
  14. Max Knight

    Max Knight Supporting Actor

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    I love Good Eats! If Alton Brown had a cult, my wife and I would be charter members. I love his scientific approach to cooking (though I find he loves a certain "tang" in his food that I don't like very much, so I modify his recipies accordingly). As a technique show, Good Eats can't be beat.
     
  15. Marshall Alsup

    Marshall Alsup Second Unit

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  16. paul_v

    paul_v Second Unit

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    Ok, I'm hungry now
     
  17. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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  18. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i used to really dig jamie oliver when he had "the naked chef" show. then he had that pukka tukka and i just didn't get into that one at all. his latest one (in that cool kitchen) is pretty good, but it just doesn't grab me like the naked chef did. it seems weird to have people just sit there and watch you...at the least i'd like them to help prep - that's half the fun.
    oh yeah...does anyone else think that gal from "40 dollars a day" is kinda cute? i can't quite put my finger on it, but i'm diggin' her! [​IMG]
     

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