Refreshing spice know-how and herbology
Sometimes you just can't get enough of spices: Learn all about how to elevate your dishes in our new knowledge base!
Not just during the warm season we long for crisp freshness and cooling dishes. The refreshing touch often only comes with the right choice of herbs and spices. Here, it's all about the correct use of the most important contenders.
Often a few leaves or a small pinch of the right ingredient is all it takes to give your dish a refreshing twist. All year round. Used correctly, you can enhance any dish that needs to have a certain amount of freshness.
These tips are dedicated to the following spices:
- Coriander leaves
- Lemon grass
Just how invigorating can it get?
There are many ways to enhance your food with refreshing accents. Depending on the recipe, adding acid, ideally in the form of lemon juice or vinegar, fresh vegetables or cooling dips are good options. However, the right herbs and spices have the most convincing effect, creating a bright fruitiness on the plate.
General tips for use
Fresh or dried? Both varieties have their own advantages. Even though we are mainly focusing on dried herbs and spices here, we recommend: If you’re growing herbs in your garden or on your balcony, go for it! It won’t get any fresher than that. Dried herbs, on the other hand, can be stored for a long time and stand out for their concentrated power.
Wait a bit before you add them! With our cooling, fruity spices, it pays to wait a bit before adding them to the dish. Fresh herbs should only be added to the dish at the end, dry ones can be left to cook a little longer. A long cooking process will take the strength out of these spices.
Combine spices! Even though many fresh herbs perform best on their own, it is always a refreshing experiment to combine different herbs and spices into a harmonious blend.
- Basil is a versatile herb that can be used fresh or dried in soups, pasta and salads. It goes particularly well with tomatoes, as it actually enhances their own flavour.
- With fresh basil, you should cut the leaves off the plant and tear them with your hands so that the essential oils can develop best.
- Remember: Add fresh basil leaves towards the end of cooking, otherwise the aromas will be lost. This does not apply to dried basil, which develops its strength more slowly during cooking.
Like coriander, dill is a spice with a very characteristic flavour. It goes wonderfully with seafood and fish dishes, complex sauces and marinades.
If you sprinkle fresh, chopped dill over your dishes, you give them a slightly tangy note reminiscent of Scandinavian cuisine. Again, add dill, whether dried or fresh, only at the end of your dish.
KOTÁNYI TIP: For making aromatic dill vinegar at home, put dill tips in a bottle and pour wine vinegar over them. After about two weeks, the drained vinegar enhances salads of all kinds.
Aniseed lingers long on the palate and provides a spicy, fruity fragrance. Indispensable in bakeries – whether for bread or for biscuits and cakes – aniseed also cuts a fine figure in soups, vegetable and meat dishes.
Be careful with aniseed: its flavour dominates a dish very quickly, so start out with a small amount.
KOTÁNYI TIP: For the very best aniseed effect, roast the fruits without oil before using them and then grind them!
- You can use the seeds (whole or ground) and also the leaves (fresh or dried) of the versatile coriander. Because of its refreshing character, we will focus on the leaves in this section – you can find more about the seeds here.
- Many Asian dishes, especially Vietnamese ones, rely heavily on coriander leaves; it makes up the characteristic flavour of Pho, Bhán mì and co. They cover all tastes, from nutty to lemony.
- Fresh coriander leaves are added just before serving, otherwise they perish and lose their flavour. You should also add dried coriander leaves towards the end of the cooking time.
Fennel adds a subtle hint of aniseed to your dishes. The fresh bulb is a popular vegetable, leaves can be used as a herb like dill and the seeds are a popular bread seasoning and add a fresh, tangy flavour to all savoury dishes.
The fennel aroma goes perfectly with aniseed, caraway, coriander and garlic.
To intensify their flavour, you should roast the fennel seeds whole for a short time without oil.
KOTÁNYI TIP: For healthy fennel tea, crush a tablespoon of fennel seeds with a mortar and steep them in hot water in a tea strainer for roughly seven minutes.
Lemongrass is a popular ingredient in fresh Asian cuisine. Dried lemongrass is also suitable for adding an exotic twist to soups, salads, marinades or fried foods.
Even small amounts are enough to make a difference: Your dishes benefit from lemongrass’s slight pungency and lemony acidity.
KOTÁNYI TIP: Boil up dried lemongrass with coconut milk and use it to create fine, refreshing soups or sauces.”
Cardamom is deeply rooted in Indian cuisine. Here it is prized for its lemony, spicy, mildly pungent flavour. It enhances curries, lentil and rice dishes, vegetables and meat dishes, but also desserts.
The most intense flavour comes from whole cardamom pods, which should be lightly crushed and then added during your cooking process.
If you want to boost your creation with cardamom, you should peel the capsules first (do not eat the shells) or crush them with a mortar.
KOTÁNYI TIP: Simply add crushed cardamom capsules to your morning coffee and look forward to a taste explosion!
Mint is probably the most classic refreshment – it is fundamental in drinks and desserts, in fresh as well as in dried state. It has an intense menthol fragrance and adds an oriental note to savoury dishes.
Spearmint is found in many sweets and radiates a cooling freshness. In England and in Middle Eastern countries, it is part of many dishes, and it also works well in our domestic cuisine.
Unlike most refreshing spices, you can cook dried mint for a long time so that its flavour can flourish.
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