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Favorite Chef spices?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I wish they would the forum folks would let us ask some questions in the Pro Chef sections as I notice some of them never go to this part but here goes.

 

In the cooking shows I notice that the cooks almost always use nothing more than salt and pepper so I become curious what else chefs use or what is a chefs favorite spice/spices? A seasona all favorite?

 

In the bbq world we use so may different "rubs", its a never ending oddessy to find that just right blend, but there does not seem to be one for "all" meats. I like certain flavors of chicken and a different one for pork and or steaks, brisket ect.

 

I personally do not get the chili powder in pork rib rubs which seems a must for most bbq cooks, my best prize winning ribs never had "chile" powder.

 

While on the subject I'm curious what brands or companies you guys may be buying from? When I owned a restaurant for a while we used the Farmer Brothers seasonings and bases, they were very good imo but then again there was nobody else out there selling something else, at least not in my neck of the woods.

 

thanks

 

post #2 of 18

I've never been a fan of all the cumin/chile powder in barbecue rubs either. I prefer other flavors.

 

post #3 of 18

I actually use red curry powder with red meats alot. I pretty much have a favorite spice or spice blend for every meat that I cook. Just depends on what it is.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #4 of 18

salt and pepper are the go to spices for just about all saveory food.  But, I still like to add other things, depending on what it is that I am cooking.

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by tastytart View Post

salt and pepper are the go to spices for just about all saveory food.  But, I still like to add other things, depending on what it is that I am cooking.


IMHO, S&P is "seasoning", spices, herbs, and other flavorings are just that, flavorings, used to achieve the "taste" or "flavor profile" that I'm hoping to achieve.

 

Seasoning always, spice choices vary depending on what is cooking and what flavor(s) one hopes to achieve.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #6 of 18

Are you asking what spices we put in our barbecue rubs?

 

To name some, while not breaking them down into separate rubs:

 

Achiote

Allspice

Basil

Cinnamon
Coriander
Cumin
Dry mustard
Fennel seed
Fenugreek
Granluated (not powdered) garlic
Granulated onion
Ground chilies of various sorts

Ground or chopped nuts of various sorts

Lemon zest

Lime zest

Mace
Mustard seed

Nutmeg

Orange zest

Oregano
Paprika
Pepper
Rosemary
Sage
Salt

Sesame seed
Sugar (of various sorts -- especially piloncillo)

Tarragon
Thyme
Turmeric

 

I usually make my own "curry" powders from scratch -- but am not above using store-bought either.  Chili powder, ditto.

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post #7 of 18

I like variations, but, some herbs match better with a particular type of meat.

When preparing for BBQ, I always let the meat in a plastic bag, add some sunflower oil, garlic (whole cloves, not peeled), spices, no salt!. Close the bag and rub. Let rest for at least 30 minutes.

I almost never use chili; it simply kills the flavor of the meat when not dosed right. I always salt just the second before cooking it, or, just after.

 

My favorites besides pepper and salt on all;

- pork; sage or rosemary. Spicemiix; garam masala or ras-al-hanut. Also, latest try; ground coffee: absolutely fabulous! Sausage; herbes de provence.

- beef; thyme, thyme or even thyme, garlic + coarse seasalt after cooking it

- lamb; rosemary or thyme, garlic

- prawns; lemonzeste and/or kaffirleaves and/or szechuan pepper (dryroast and grind it first!), garlic, sometimes a little Japanese light soy 

- chicken; tarragon or rosemary, garlic. Spicemix; tandoori masala

- duck; chinese 5-spices or preferably ground all-spice AKA Jamaica pepper (I hardly ever cook it on a BBQ)

- fish; salmon: tarragon. Many other -mostly white fish with or without mussels- in a papillotte of aluminium foil with fresh herbs like parcely, citronella, lemonzeste...

post #8 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post




IMHO, S&P is "seasoning", spices, herbs, and other flavorings are just that, flavorings, used to achieve the "taste" or "flavor profile" that I'm hoping to achieve.

 

Seasoning always, spice choices vary depending on what is cooking and what flavor(s) one hopes to achieve.

your right, salt is not a spice, but pepper is. I just didn't (and still don't) think that it matters as it pertains to the topic at hand. 

post #9 of 18

Pete's differentiation aside, I have a problem with the OP's basic contention. We must be watching different TV chefs, cuz I've never seen one who used only salt and pepper on an on-going basis. For some dishes, sure. But not as a regular thing.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 18

S&P hits almost everything that they touch, no doubt.  However, I see a never-ending list of herbs and spices used -- some seem to just be to say they used it. 

 

One I see a lot is smoked paprika, which always ends in one of those "looking down the nose" stares followed by "regular paprika can be used if you can't find smoked paprika".
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Pete's differentiation aside, I have a problem with the OP's basic contention. We must be watching different TV chefs, cuz I've never seen one who used only salt and pepper on an on-going basis. For some dishes, sure. But not as a regular thing.

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 

BDL not meant as a bbq thread, was just curious what spices a pro chef has as favorites.

KY it seems every show I watch they always use s&p on everything, not counting herbs and sauces and stuff.

Just curious about favorite spices, always looking for an edge or something different that may give me an egde at the next cook-off.

 

post #12 of 18

Salt and pepper are basic seasonings, Quetex, and even home cooks use them on almost everything. Or should be.

 

That aside, asking which is a favorite spice is kind of vague. There are an incredible number of variables. Which spices to use depends on the dish you are making, whether it's in the style of a particular cuisine, what flavor profile you're trying to create, etc. In short, the reason there are so many spices is because they all have a use, alone or in combination.

 

I just did a rough count, and I have about 60 spices. To be sure, some of them are repeats in different forms (f'rinstance, I have both whole cloves and powdered). And some of them are blends, such as za'taar, creole spice, ras el hanout, and garam marsala. You seem to have something against herbs, so I didn't count them. Nor did I count the various dried chilies I have, each of which has it's own flavor and heat level.

 

So, I guess you could say my favorite is whichever one(s) I most recently used. Tonight that would include coriander seed, cumin seed, cloves, turmeric, and ancho chili powder. Plus, of course, salt and pepper.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

Well said KY and yes we all use the s&p just looking for other ideas i guess.  I too have way too many spices, some I wouldnt have a clue what to do with lol. Regularly throw out some seasonalls or "wonder " rubs  supposedly. I just need more time to experiment I suppose.

 

Gracias amigos

post #14 of 18

I guess I see what you're getting at.  But, to someone -- professional or not -- who has a large repertoire and cooks at a certain level, there's really no such thing as "favorites."   Sometimes you use marjoram, sometimes basil, and sometimes oregano.  There are any number of different styles of "curry," using different sets of spices. 

 

You use what's appropriate and works best to get you where you want to go.

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 11/9/10 at 9:37pm
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What were we talking about?
 
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post #15 of 18

No real favorites.

 

Vancouver as a reputation for uh... "green thumbs" and hydroponics. 

 

Me?  I got a bay leaf tree in the front yard, rosemary and thyme plants, marjoram, mint, and dill.  These get used on a daily basis, both at home and at work.

 

Just about any meat dish I cook will have some form of onions and garlic in it, and I'm very partial to leeks and shallots.

 

Everything I've mentioned above I consider as primary flavourings 

 

Every spice and herb works well with some dishes and terrrible at others.  Bay leaf actually works well with vanilla in desserts, and I've known many a Greek cook to put cinnamon in meat and tomato sauces. 

 

I've worked in kitchens where the house pate spice was only blended/mixed by the Chef personally on a full moon on months begining with "R", and locked up in his desk drawer, requiring written permission to get 5 grams needed for the house terrine, and I've worked with butchers who proudly gave me their spice blends and dosages for the zillion types of sausages and forcemeats they'd make.

 

Then there's the various techniques of dry roasting spices, "blooming" spices and /or herbs in hot oil, sweating with mirepoix, coating spices with fats like cocoa butter so they melt and baste the meat at a certain time, a.k.a "time realease" spicing, infused brines and marinades, etc, etc, etc.  I always buy whole spices when possible and grind them in a cheap-o Braun coffee grinder, I'm constantly amazed at people who don't know what nutmeg, cloves, or mace look like when whole.

 

So, basically, whatever works for the particular dish, no favorites..........

 

Basically, whatever works, works, and

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #16 of 18

I too have way too many spices, some I wouldnt have a clue what to do with

 

That's where we differ, I reckon. I use all of mine on a regular basis.

 

The only time I throw any of them out is if they're lost their umph. And that would primarily mean pre-ground spices that are more than a year old. Few of mine are preground, and rarely do they last a year before being replaced, so that's not a problem for me.

 

I'm getting the impression that your real question isn't so much about our faves, as it is about your unfamiliarity with the flavor of various spices, and how they react with foods and with each other. 

 

If that's the case, I'd recommend checking out a few books that deal with the subject; especially those that arrange their recipes by the spices used. There are, unfortunately, not too many of them that do that. Among the best is Where Flavor Was Born, Andreas Viestad's wonderful exploration of the cuisines of the Indian Ocean. What makes it especially pertinent is that you glimpse how different countries and cuisines use the same spices to effect clearly recognizable national and regional cooking styles.

 

By experimenting with those recipes you'll quickly discover the contributions made by specific spices and other flavorings.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

Maybe you are correct sir, thanks for the book recommendation.

 

 

 

Quote:
 I've worked in kitchens where the house pate spice was only blended/mixed by the Chef personally on a full moon on months begining with "R", and locked up in his desk drawer, requiring written permission to get 5 grams needed for the house terrine

 

That is so funny but I belive it too.

 

 

QT

post #18 of 18
I have went from dried spices to co2 extracted spice. I get much better flavor. Has anyone else worked with spice extract ?
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