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Spice Beyond Heat

Dec 19, 2016

I myself love spicy hot foods. The key for me, though, is that I like the level of heat to be appropriate to the desired result. With that being said, I HATE heat for heat sake, which for me only takes away from the dining enjoyment and experience. There is a trend on the rise, however, that combines these two key components into a single delicious deliverable. Hot foods are certainly not all that new, but the new wave of chili pepper–based dishes will balance pure spice with citrusy, roasted and piquant flavors. Aromatic spices like turmeric, cardamom, paprika, cumin, ginger and nutmeg will go hand in hand with chilies to deliver layers of flavor with more complexity than just heat itself. Spice blends from Ethiopia, Japan and Morocco will enliven center-of-the-plate proteins, soups and more.

A simple and efficient way to deliver these satiating solutions is through the use of wet and dry spice blends. From Jamaican Jerk to Malaysian Sambal, herb and spiced mixes, both wet and dry are staples in many cuisines around the world. No doubt, incorporating these blends into your own kitchen can lend authenticity to international dishes, but more importantly creating signature blends can provide creative inspiration for your everyday cooking. And perhaps help you create signature destination items that’s net result will go straight to your bottom line.

Another cultural cuisine that is gaining speed on the popularity train is that of Morocco. One of my favorites spice blends from that region is Ras El Hanout a Moroccan spice that can be composed of anywhere from 20 to 40 spices. These spices are a complicated mixture that take many purposes into account: spices for medicine, spices for flavor, and even “the occasional aphrodisiac” finds its way into this fragrant blend (may be why I like it!).

With regard to using these spices on everyday casual dining menus, just a spoonful added to demi-glace, mayonnaise, crème fresh, etc. will broaden the scope of your offerings with ease all the while limiting your SKU’s. Additionally, why not consider “exploring” the endless opportunities to offer unique chicken wings or globally inspired ribs. Offerings like these will most certainly separate you from the rest of the pack, and done right, will most consistently get you the consumer destination veto vote more times than not.

At Custom Culinary® we always strive to deliver solutions that not only heighten your menu quality, but also allow “Chefs to be Chefs”. Our full line of bases and sauces are great “stand-alone” products but are also able to stand up to plus one or two additions to make them unique to you. A spoonful of Sambal to our Gold Label Beurre Blanc as an example would be a great spooned over Chile Crusted Halibut on a bed of wok seared Bok Choy.

If you have the need to further streamline prep work, we offer a number of branded ready-to-use sauces that will deliver all of the bold layered flavors desired. Take our Gold Label Latin-Style Citrus Chili as an example. This unique sauce combines achiote, chili’s and citrus into a complex sauce that goes great with almost anything from shrimp to tofu.

On the customized end of our business, we are always experimenting with spice and herb blends that represent the flavor profiles of various regions of the US or cultures and countries around the globe. These wet blends are great as meat rubs or additions to soups, sauces and spreads. Our ability to harness the creative talents of ours guild of global chefs ensure authenticity and on trend regional flare.

Until next time, I bid you “good cooking” and I will see you in the kitchen soon!


Michael Smith

Michael Smith
Michael Smith, CEC, AAC
Corporate Executive Chef, Segment Sales
Custom Culinary, Inc.

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