Flavor is a combination of aroma and taste, and it forms one of the most important parts of a meal. To strike a perfect flavor tone, a meal’s spice and flavors must be delicately balanced. It takes skill and effort to find that perfect balance and whip up a meal that is spicy while still retaining its ideal flavor.
Here are a few steps to make your meal spicy without changing the flavor:
- Use mild spices.
- Understand the spices you’re using.
- Calculate and include spices deliberately.
- Use spices in moderation.
This article will explain in detail how to use these steps to make your meal spicy without changing the flavor. Keep reading to also find recommendations for the best spices to use!
1. Use Mild Spices
Spices come from various sources—each one is unique, with a different taste and intensity for you to play with. To add spices to your food without altering its original flavor, you must first understand each spice and how to use it properly.
Mild spices are those that only have negligible effects on the original flavor of your food. A good example is the versatile Pink Peppercorn that gives your dish just the right amount of spice and even gives it a subtle pink color.
Sweet bell peppers, cherry peppers, and jalapeño peppers are other mild spices with a very subtle flavor. You can use any of these to spice up your meal without getting an excessively strong effect.
If you’d prefer to bring out a deeper tone in your dishes, you can lightly toast the spices before using them or sprinkle them directly on your food.
2. Understand Your Spices
Before you choose or buy the spices you’ll be cooking with, you should understand them very well. You need to know how to use your spices correctly; adding them the wrong way could change the flavor of your food or, worse, ruin it entirely.
Below is a short list of common cooking spices and their descriptions to help you understand what each one can bring to your meal.
Allspice gets its name from giving the flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves all at once. It’s a true all-rounder that can be used as a substitute for any of these three spices. You can use allspice in the whole, ground, or even baked form, depending on your personal preferences.
This historically Asian spice is commonly regarded as one of the healthiest and most delicious in the world. When you bake with ginger, it helps to release the flavor from any fruits you may be using.
Be careful not to get too excited with your ginger, though. Excess ginger in food could drown out all your other spices and make your food burn. Generally, it is recommended that you don’t take more than one gram of solid ginger or one teaspoon of grated ginger per day.
Paprika is made from different dried and ground red bell and chili peppers. Depending on the peppers used to make it, paprika can range from mildly spicy to blindingly hot!
All paprikas are not created equal, so you have to be sure of what kind you’re getting. You could also make your own spice at home by grinding a mixture of peppers that you prefer. Paprika makes an excellent spice for savory food like sauce, meat, soup, or steamed vegetables.
Heat will reduce the spice, color, and flavor boost that paprika brings into your food. Because of that, it’s always better to add the spice after you’re done cooking the meal.
This spice has a distinct spicy taste and aroma that has given it the popular alias “Stinking Rose.” The smell is a major reason so many people have second thoughts about cooking with it, and it’s understandable!
What is not-so-common knowledge, though, is that garlic can be used in other forms than its raw state. You can use garlic fried, cooked, or oven-roasted. You just have to be careful not to overcook it or put it under high temperature; all of these conditions can make the garlic bitter. You also have to watch it carefully because garlic tends to burn very quickly.
If you want to use your garlic raw, chop it into smaller pieces. This helps to fully extract the juices and oils within, giving your meal more flavor and a better aroma.
Turmeric is famous for the health benefits that Curcumin, its major compound, gives to the body. It’s most commonly used in Indian and Caribbean dishes. Aside from boosting the flavor, turmeric also adds a burst of color to your food.
It’s essential to carefully measure the amount of turmeric you will use. Adding an excessive amount of the spice can intensify the orange color to a nauseating degree and even ruin the taste.
The quantity of food you’re cooking is a huge factor in determining how much turmeric you should use. As a rule of thumb, 2 grams of turmeric for each serving in your cooking is the maximum safe amount.
3. Calculate and Include Spices Deliberately
No matter how “safe” the spice is, you should measure how much of it you’ll need to add to your food. An excess of even the best spices can change the flavor of your meal and ruin it.
Whether for the compliments that follow when you serve it or just the personal satisfaction from giving your taste buds a treat, you’re definitely aiming for a perfect meal when you cook. That sort of pressure may be a lot to put on yourself, though. Allow yourself to enjoy the cooking. Follow your instinct within the limits of the calculations you have made.
4. Use Spices In Moderation
It can be pretty difficult to spend hours cooking up a dish only to have the flavor ruined. If you’re struggling with adding the right spices, don’t worry. It becomes easier to gauge the right amount of spice to use as you cook more often.
For example, if you have experience cooking a meal for one with half a tablespoon of turmeric, it becomes easier to gauge the effect two-and-a-half tablespoons will have on a meal prepared to serve five people.
Spices can make your food taste even more unique, but only if you use them with caution. Cooking is an art, so you shouldn’t forget to immerse yourself in it and enjoy the process. Go whip up delicious, spicy meals that leave you with a big smile on your face!