Top 5 most unique cooking ingredients you can't live without
When hosting a dinner o party family gathering it's important not just what recipes you pick for the night, but also how the dishes are prepared. A good host knows that the unique ingredients you use sets your cooking apart from others, and can make or break a dinner party. If you're looking to impress, here are the top unique ingredients to include in your cooking this season to blow their socks off!
1) Harissa - A mixture of hot chilies usually found in Mediterranean dishes which gives a slightly spicy aftertaste.
2) Chile Crisp (Chili Crisp) - A mixture of oil chili flakes, nuts, spices and fried shallots found in Asian cuisine. Chili crisp has an addictive texture, typically made up of different levels of crunch, sometime from peanuts and corn, brought together in spicy harmony by seasoned chili oil.
3) Achiote - A paste popular in Central American, Mexican, and Caribbean cuisines that is made from annatto seeds, cumin, pepper, coriander, oregano, cloves, and garlic. It adds an earthy, somewhat sweet and spicy, slightly smokey flavor and can be used as a sauce, marinade, or rub for meat, chicken, and fish.
4) Dukkah - A mixture of spices popular in Egypt consisting of toasted nuts, seeds and herbs. This unique ingredient has a nutty flavor which goes well with roasted meats such as chicken or lamb. Some recipes even call for the use of this spice when you're cooking pasta or rice.
5) Chilau - A Flavor base of bold ethnic flavors of the American South made from Onion, Peppers, celery, garlic, spices and cayenne pepper. It adds bold ethnic flavor to your soups and stews within minutes. It tastes like New Orleans meets Charleston with a Caribbean twist.
One of my favorite things about cooking is adding new flavors and spices to recipes. I love trying out bold combinations to make a familiar dish taste completely different for easy dinner recipes. My favorite type of ingredient to work with is the "behind the scenes" spices - those items that give a base flavor to dishes, but are often overlooked because they can be used in so many ways. Refer to the list above!
A less obvious yet equally important group of flavors are the bases that are used in making dishes. Bases are what stews, curries and soups are built from. They're a great way to build character in a dish because they can be combined with the more powerful flavors like those listed above. The practical approach is to start with neutral flavors that don't taste like much on their own, and easily take on the characteristics of the stronger ingredients mixed in. Think tomato paste, cream, stock, water, milk, etc. Start with these, taste as you go and prepare yourself for a flavor explosion.
When I go to any friends house I always notice that they have their own style of cooking, which includes the way they season their dish. Most people use basic flavors such as salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, garlic, etc. However when you are having guests over or feel like spicing things up you can develop your own style of cooking and create a meal that you know your friends will love. There are many different flavor bases, seasonings, and cooking techniques out there that when added to a dish can take it from average to awesome!
Need inspiration? Check our easy dinner recipes!