Good Food Blog
A match made in heavenPosted at 12:02PM, 19 April 2011 by Kieron Allen - Food writer
As a somewhat adventurous cook, my store cupboard is fit to burst with ageing jars of spices, many of them unopened, even more of them creeping toward their 'sell by' dates. It's hard to resist the urge to just throw something together, chucking in a little bit of everything so as not to see it go to waste. I must however restrain myself. For just as a full-bodied red might complement a steak, the same can be said of herbs and spices and the ingredients they enhance.
Meat recipes are by far the best way to experiment with seasoning.
Meat recipes are by far the best way to experiment with seasoning. As an ingredient, it will support a huge variety of flavours, some of which may come as a bit of a surprise. Beef is a hugely versatile ingredient and works very well with basil, bay leaf, mustard and black pepper to name but a few.
As a more delicate ingredient, fish requires a lighter touch. Many of the spices that work well with meat also enhance the flavour of fish, but in most instances should be used in smaller quantities. Dill, fennel seeds, and star anise provide an aniseed flavour that most fish can really support. Pungent herbs like thyme, marjoram, parsley, and chives also work very well.
Vegetables can be turned into something completely new and exciting with the addition of complementary ingredients. Any variety of squash can be transformed by incorporating chilli, cumin and black pepper into a recipe.
Potatoes are very adaptable and work fabulously well with many ingredients, particularly herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme.
The most important thing to do is experiment. Although the idea of roast pork with star anise gravy may seem rather radical, you'll be surprised by how much some of these far-fetched matrimonies change the way you deal with the everyday ingredients in your kitchen.
What are your favourite combinations?