I often get asked "Why does your food not taste VEGAN?", "You food has so much flavor"... I am not quite sure how to answer that as unflavored meat will be pretty disgusting as well. So no matter what your recipes may entail try SPICING IT UP to wake the palate and give food many dimensions. I believe everything should be seasoned (even your water for steaming and boiling) and have different tones, textures, and colors.
I season ALL food the same way I did before I was Vegan. Food should have life and give someone a great memory rather a new one or a pleasant past memory when you eat. Hence why food is such a focus in many traditions and cultures. I have so many spices and blends I couldn't dare fit even 1/4 of them into one picture. I decided to take my very most used or special ones to me to introduce some spices and how I use them.
Cumin is one of my most used spices. I literally have a huge tub of it and often refill the jar you see in the picture. Cumin is one of those spice that is distinct and very aromatic. You can achieves that spot on taste you are needing for so many recipes. It is used in many cultures such as Latin, Middle Eastern, Indian, Greek and Asian.
My favorite spice! Back in 2003 when I was in Culinary School my head Chef brought now in as we were discovering spices from around the world. I took one sniff and fell so in love with this spice. I replace just about any spice recipe that calls for paprika with smoked paprika. Adding it to recipes gives it such a smokey colorful in dept taste that you will for sure impress anyone. Use it in potato salad to make a potato salad not so traditional. Make a quick aioli with it and add some chipotle peppers. Taco Tuesday just got a little more sass. It's endless on where you can take your dishes to another level.
When being vegan, it's not hard to get that bacon flavor in many dishes. There's so many options! Adding some hickory smoked sauce to meals in a edition to smoked salt can make even your biggest carnivore think there's definitely bacon in this. I use smoke salt in anything I want a bacon-isa flavor such as; some smokey collard greens, dips, sautéed veggies, breakfast scrambles and burritos, and many southern dishes. Don't be afraid to add some smoked salt in some of your creations, it may be life changing.
Turmeric has many many health benefits such as being an anti-inflammatory when u sed with black pepper. Using black pepper increases it's absorption. Aside from all the amazing health benefits turmeric makes a great natural food color! For an example add it to tofu or chickpea scramblers to achieve an egg-like color. Turmeric is good in lentil, beans, rice dishes (add a tad to your Spanish Rice or taco seasoning), I literally add it in any dish that allows me not overly mask the taste with its slightly bitter aftertaste. Make a night cap with an ever so yummy golden milk that uses turmeric, coconut oil, black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, vanilla, coconut or almond milk the sweetened with maple syrup, agave or honey.
Five Spice also known Chinese Five Spice is made up of five spices hence the name; ground cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise and Szechuan pepper. The flavors are to encompasses five flavors; salty, sweet, bitter and pungent, some sources say the fifth note is umami. I love using five spice in many marinades, stir frys and asian dishes to give your palette much more sensation. Marinade some tofu steaks by adding five spice, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger. Sprinkle a teaspoon into your next stir fry veggies or noodles and thank me later.
Give yourself a culinary edge with using smoked cinnamon. This spice can be used in savory recipes or desserts. In desserts I add it to my bread pudding and apple crisp, for a wow factor. It's subtle but anyone would notice there's something different about your apple crisp. My favorite and most used is adding it to my chili recipe (located on my recipes page).
Aside from chipotle, I use a lot of Ancho as it is a mild chili with sweet yet smokey undertones. Ancho chilies are derived by drying out poblano pepper (used for chili rellanos) which are green but when dried turns a brick red color. I use the whole dried pepper and powder. The whole dried peppers make a great enchilada sauce. The powder can be used in chili and when making just about any Mexican dish. Ancho chili makes an awesome rub with brown sugar, cumin, salt and coffee grinds for something very magical. It's a great mild chili that goes a long way.
There are some amazing companies that take spices to culinary sensation, such as Lion Lev Sercarz with his company called La Boîte. Take some time and browse his website and find your cart spilling over with over $100 in spices. I use many of those blends on my usual recipes to create a whole new taste depending o n which spice blend I use.