If your food is starting to feel bland, boring, or repetitive, it might be time to spice things up in the kitchen. You can make new, unique dishes that pack a punch or improve the flavor profile of one of your favorite meals by experimenting with spices and other flavor-adding ingredients. There are a lot of different spices and ingredients that you can use to add flavor to a dish, but with so many options available, it’s not always easy to choose. Here are some ways to spice up your cooking, along with a handy guide on which spices and ingredients work best with some of the basic food groups.
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Try Out New Spices
Simple spices, like salt, pepper, and garlic powder, are a staple in most households. They taste great, but they’re also easy to get tired of, especially if you’re using them to season every single meal. If you’re feeling brave, it might not be a bad idea to experiment with spices that you don’t use very often or have never heard of before. You can start by using versatile and mild spices, like cumin, coriander, and mustard seed in your cooking. These three spices work well with a wide variety of meat, fish, and vegetables, and their flavor isn’t too overwhelming. Another great way to experiment is by using an unfamiliar spice to season a familiar dish.
Don’t Shy Away from Alcohol
Another way to spice up your cooking is to incorporate alcohol. A lot of people shy away from cooking with alcohol, but it’s a delicious and simple way to add flavor to any meal. If you use alcohol to cook and bake, you won’t have to worry about getting drunk. Most of the alcohol will burn off during the cooking process, leaving your food with only a small amount of alcohol content. You can cook with beer in a variety of different ways, from marinating your meats to creating buttery, chewy beer bread. Similarly, you can use wine to add a subtle flavor to your next dish. Wine works well in stews, braises, and tomato sauces, but you can also use in brownies, cake, and other desserts.
Know Your Pairings
There are spices and types of alcohol that work better with certain food groups. When you’re cooking a meal, it’s almost a given that you’ll be using beef, chicken, poultry, fish, pork, dairy, fruits, or vegetables as a base. Understanding what pairs well with your base food is the key to effectively seasoning your dish.
Rosemary, black pepper, thyme, cloves, garlic, lemon juice, and red wine pair well with beef.
Ginger, orange peel, sage, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, and beer pair well with chicken/poultry.
Dill, lemon juice, mustard seeds, lovage, celery seeds, lemon juice, and whiskey pair well with fish.
Chives, onions, dill, cinnamon, thyme, ginger, and white wines pair well with vegetables.
Dill, chives, parsley, paprika, nutmeg, dry mustard, and black pepper pair well with dairy.
Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, vanilla bean, clove, cumin, and vodka pair well with fruit.