Season as you go
In our Epi recipes, you'll find seasoning mentioned throughout the process: boiling water is salted; sautéed vegetables are seasoned while cooking; meat is sprinkled with salt and pepper before cooking; and dishes are finished with a final seasoning to taste.
Each of these steps helps infuse flavor throughout the cooking process, so that the final dish is as delicious as possible. It's not enough to simply sprinkle a little salt on your food at the end of cooking—imagine if you roasted Thanksgiving's turkey and only sprinkled on salt at the end. The first bite might taste okay, but only the exterior is seasoned. Every other bite would be dry and bland.
Vegetables, pasta, meats, they are all the same—in each step of cooking, you need to coax flavor out by adding a little salt, which helps draw out water and concentrate the food's natural flavors, as well as spices, which infuses flavor throughout its structure. By seasoning throughout the cooking process, every bite is infused with flavor, not just the exterior.
And it's key to remember that last "season to taste" instruction. Yes, we've written a recipe (and tested it several times, by the way), making sure to include the amount of salt, pepper, and spices that yield a flavorful end dish.
But those amounts can vary depending on your ingredients—especially vegetables—which can vary dramatically in terms of flavor. So before you serve, always (always, always) make sure to taste and season. Even if you've followed a recipe to a T, in the end, you are the cook, and you're responsible for making it taste delicious.
Want to infuse even more flavor into your recipes? Finish them off with a final sprinkling of an herbed salt, adding flavor and color to boot.
History of Sauces
The word “sauce” is a French word that means a relish to make our food more appetizing. Sauces are liquid or semi-liquid foods devised to make other foods look, smell, and taste better, and hence be more easily digested and more beneficial.
Because of the lack of refrigeration in the early days of cooking, meat, poultry, fish, and seafood didn’t last long. Sauces and gravies were used to mask the flavor of tainted foods.
The main course, or primae mensai varied both in the number and elaboration of dishes. Roast and boiled meat, poultry, game or other meat delicacies would be served. No dish was complete without its highly flavoured and seasoned sauce. Contrary to present day preference, the main object seemed to be to disguise the natural taste of food – possibly to conceal doubtful freshness, possibly to demonstrate the variety of costly spices available to the host. Sometimes so many ingredients were used in a sauce it was impossible to single out any one flavour. One Roman cook bitterly complained that some of his fellow cooks ‘When they season their dinners they don’t use condiments for seasoning, but screech owls, which eat out the intestines of the guests alive’. Apicius wrote at the end of one of his recipes for a particularly flavoursome sauce, ‘No one at table will know what he is eating’. These sauces were usually thickened with wheat flour or crumbled pastry. Honey was often incorporated into a ‘sweet-sour’ dish or sauce.
Highly flavoured sauces often containing as many as a dozen ingredients were extensively used to mask the natural flavours of Roman food. The most commonly used seasoning was liquamen, the nearest equivalent today being a very strong fish stock, with anchovies as its main ingredient. This was so popular that it was factory-produced in many towns in the Roman empire.
Homemade Black Bean Sauce
This is one of the most versatile Chinese sauces that goes well with almost any ingredients, and is also suitable for stir frying, baking, grilling, and steaming.
I recommend that everyone who loves Chinese food have a jar of pre-made black bean sauce in their fridge. Here are the reasons:
The sauce is extremely versatile. You can view it as soy sauce alternative, only more flavorful.
The sauce is healthier than many other Chinese sauces because it contains less sugar.
The sauce has a bit of thickening powder by itself, so you don’t always need to use extra cornstarch to thicken the sauce. One more prep step eliminated!
Not only can you make stir-fried dishes with it, you can also use it to bake or steam food, marinate meat, or serve it as dipping sauce or noodle salad dressing.
Introducing Homemade Black Bean Sauce
Yes, you can buy bottled black bean sauce from the grocery store, but the homemade version contains more fresh aromatics, does not use additional starch to thicken the sauce, and contains no additives. I always suggest that you make your own for a more delicious and healthier option.
Basic ingredient – fermented black beans
The most important ingredient is fermented black bean. It has a deep umami flavor that is similar to soy sauce, but different in flavor and even richer. This is the base of the sauce.
Thanks to almighty Amazon, you can even purchase the fermented black beans online without a trip to grocery store. However, if there is an Asian market nearby, I highly recommend you to get your ingredients there because it will be way cheaper. These black beans can stay in your fridge forever, so you can store them if you don’t have time to use them immediately.Once you get the fermented black beans, the rest of the ingredients are quite easy to find and it’s more likely that you will already have them at home.
Seasoning blends are mixture of ground or whole spices, herbs, seeds, or other flavorings. Seasonings such as apple pie spice are blends of several spices and are ready to use. Seasoning includes herbs and spices, which are themselves frequently referred to as “seasonings”. Seasoning includes a large or small amount of salt being added to a preparation. Other seasonings like black pepper and basil transfer some of their flavor to the food. A well designed dish may combine seasonings that complement each other. In addition to the choice of herbs and seasoning, the timing of when flavors are added will affect the food that is being cooked. In various cultures, meat may be existing as a seasoning techniques
Preparation of seasoning powders
The ingredients for making sweet potato seasoning powder such as sweet potato, onion, garlic and ginger were peeled and cut into small pieces. They were spread in the tray and placed under sunlight for about two days. And then 40 gm of dried sweet potato, 15 gm of dried onion, 8 gm of dried garlic, 1 gm of dried ginger, and 1 gm of dried black pepper were separately roasted in pan at 70 oC for 2 minutes. After that, the roasted ingredients were ground in the blender until all are well mixed and powder. During grinding, 30 gm of sugar and 5 gm of salt were added. The powder was screened with 100 mesh screen. Finally, as obtained sweet potato powder seasoning was added into airtight glass bottle.
Herbs and spices are essential to the art of soup making. In some soups, they're the central theme — but generally, they serve to enhance and complement the other ingredients. Frontier offers a full selection of soup seasoning, including:
Basil: Good with tomato-base soups and many vegetables.
Bay Leaf: Used in stews and with beans and vegetables. Remove the leaves before serving.
Cayenne: Adds spicy hotness and may be used in place of black pepper.
Celery Seed: A strong, distinctive flavor, to be used sparingly. Whole seeds should be cooked for at least an hour, while ground seed may be added towards the end of cooking.
Chervil: A pungent addition to many thin soups, sometimes substituted for parsley.
Chili Powder: Most often found in chili but also delicious in other soups.
Chipotle powder: Adds heat and a touch of smoky flavor to Mexican style soups, bean soups or corn chowder.
Cumin: Good in vegetable soups, chili, and other bean soups, as well as Mexican and Indian soups.
Curry: A delicious addition to soups containing grains, vegetables, lentils, or split peas.
Dill: Fragrant and delicious in potato or onion soups. Dill weed is best added near the end of cooking, while dill seed needs to cook for a long period and is best used ground.
Fennel: Used sparingly, fennel's strong taste adds a delightful and distinctive touch to squash soup and beef stew.
Garlic: Garlic adds instant flavor to almost any soup. It is available in a variety of forms—fresh, powdered, granulated, and flaked. Granulated is easy to measure and dissolves nicely if allowed to cook a few minutes before serving. Powdered garlic is less strong than granulated.
Marjoram: Flavorful in minestrone, onion, chicken, and potato soups.
Onion: Many soups start with the sautéing of onions, and for good reason! Onion is available in the same forms as garlic.
Parsley: Parsley may be added to almost any soup. It adds lovely color and a refreshing taste. While fresh parsley is sometimes tough in soups, dried parsley is consistently tasty, easy to measure, colorful, and delicate.
Rosemary: The clean, strong flavor of rosemary perks up vegetable or chicken soups. (Use it with a light touch.)
Sea Salt: Salt soups sparingly. Use it to coax out other flavors rather than dominate your dish. Sea salt contains trace minerals and is free of additives sometimes found in table salt.
Thyme: Release the distinctive flavor and aroma of thyme by crushing it between your fingers as you sprinkle it in vegetable and rice soups.
You can also use dulse flakes (right out of the bag or toasted) in soups—especially Asian-style ones—to enhance flavor, boost nutrition and provide salt.
Soups are a great place to experiment with spices. There are no hard and fast rules about what seasonings to use in what soups, but if you're feeling the need for some direction, here's a good place to start—the following list gives you some suggestions for using the spices described above and some others commonly used in soups:
Bean soups: cumin, garlic, onions, parsley, sage, savory, thyme
Beef, chicken and turkey soups: allspice, basil, bay leaf, cinnamon, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, mace, marjoram, nutmeg, onions, paprika, parsley, rosemary, saffron, sage, savory, thyme
Fruit soups: anise, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mace, mint, nutmeg, rosemary
Seafood soups: basil, chives, curry powder, dill, garlic, ginger, marjoram, oregano, parsley, sage, savory, tarragon, thyme
Tomato soups: basil, bay leaf, chives, garlic, oregano, parsley, rosemary, savory, tarragon, thyme
Vegetable soups: basil, caraway, cayenne, chives, dill, garlic, marjoram, nutmeg, oregano, savory, tarragon, thyme
And don't forget soup-enhancing seasonings at the table — vegetarian soy Bac'Uns make great additions at the table to sprinkle on a bowl of potato, bean or creamy soups. And try toasted sesame seeds on Asian or vegetable soups.
Frontier also offers several spice blends, each with its own unique flavor. Blends most suitable for soups include All-Seasons Salt, Celery Salt, Garlic Salt, Herbal Seasoning (no salt), Italian Seasoning, Mexican Seasoning and Onion Salt.
Of course, all-purpose and ethnic blends like hot pot seasoning are always good bets, too.
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