Cary, NC – With Summer upon us, it means a lot of grilling and a lot of friends coming over to eat. So take advantage of this time of year by experimenting with some seasonings and spices you may have not tried before.
Seasoning for the Season
If you are preparing food for the grill or however you want to prepare it in the Summer, you should already know the basics of how to season it. Get your meat to room temperature, cover it in your chosen seasonings and then begin cooking. Of course, this exact order will change some depending on what you are cooking and what seasoning you are using: for example, with steak, you should let your seasonings sit with it for about 40 minutes before cooking, especially with salt. And typically, you will want to apply any pepper after cooking because it can char.
But now that you have time to experiment, you should mix up your seasoning routine. For one, if you are only used to using salt, bring in other spices such as garlic and coriander for a sharper taste or paprika and red pepper flakes for a mild amount of heat. Of course, this will be a learning process as you figure out the right ratios for you but that is the fun of cooking. And even if you don’t get the quantities right on your first tries, it will still taste good enough to eat. Also, try apply a light amount of oil to your meat after seasoning it to seal in the flavor; you can mix and match this with many different kinds of oil as well.
Different Seasonings to Try
Maybe you already have a set seasoning regiment you are happy with. But for the Summer, try and spread out by including some new spices to your meals.
Adobo is a Spanish and Portuguese method of marinading meat, giving it a lot of flavor and a bit of heat. While adobo varies from country to country in Latin America, it often includes oregano, paprika and some form of citrus zest. While you can research ways to do an adobo marinade, we would suggest looking for Puerto Rican dry adobo rub. It works well as a salt replacement and can turn an ordinary piece of meat into a delicious and interesting dish.
Another way to make flavors pop is by adding in turmeric. It is popular in a lot of Southeast Asian cuisine and can give a taste reminiscent of curry. The best thing about powdered turmeric is it can go well with anything, from rice to vegetables to soup and more. If you want to use it to season your meat, it’s better to pair it with other sharp spices such as mustard seed, garlic, cumin and the like.
Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
You probably pass it by in the spice aisle all the time but not all home cooks know about using Lawry’s Seasoning Salt. Its sales actually surpass table salt in the United States and it can add much more flavor to a dish than regular old sodium chloride. There is more sodium in Lawry’s than with typical salt but if that is not a concern for you, this could be a good replacement to make an old dish taste new again.
Wait, wait, don’t freak out on us just yet. Yes, ground coffee can and has been used as seasoning for meat. If you enjoy the taste of coffee, you can get the same rich, deep taste in your meats. And it isn’t only for robust meats such as steak; you can encrust pork or even hamburger patties with it, as long as you mix it in with some salt and something spicy such as paprika. If you like this new combination, maybe even include a little cocoa powder – it goes great with the coffee.
Spicing Up Vegan and Vegetarian Meals
Seasoning can be used in any dish, even ones without any meat. For example, beans and lentils can easily be marinated in spices to add a kick when you eventually cook and eat it. Or if you are cooking your food in boiling water, just add the spices in there, or make your own broth and season that mixture. But if you are spicing up the water for cooking, it’s better to use whole spices instead (whole seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, etc.)
If you are using a dish with vegetables fats such as nuts and seeds, those will pair well with spices because it will offset any bitterness. And if you want to give it a try, avocados work well as a source of fat for vegetarian meals as well.
And Summer is a great time to find herbs, which pair well with vegan and vegetarian meals. Add these in at the end, as cooking will make them turn on you.
So go experiment with your meals and have some fun at the grill over the Summer!