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Posts Tagged ‘spice mixing’

 

Photo courtesy of:  http://www.paradiseinfiji.com/blogimages/Activities/Culture_Warrior005.jpg

 

Everyone was so pleased with my posts of Fiji, that I thought I would post another Fijian recipe that is as easy as they come and as delicious as can be.  If you like ceviche you will love this slightly spicy white fish dish.  Let’s hit it, folks!

Kokoda

Ingredients:

4 White Fish fillets (I use Halibut, but for more authenticity use Mahi-Mahi)

Juice of 3 large limes or 4 small limes

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 medium tomatoes, seeds removed and diced in small cubes

1 very small green chili (Serrano works fine) minced very, very fine.  Remember, always remove seeds, stems and veins  (use less for less heat)

1 medium onion, minced

1 orange bell pepper, seeds, veins and stems removed and minced

1 cup coconut cream  (NOT coconut milk, but coconut CREAM)

Preparation:

Cut the fish fillets into bite size pieces and put them in a GLASS bowl with the lime juice and salt.  Do NOT put the lime juice in a metal bowl or it WILL react with the metal and ruin the flavor of your dish.  Mix the fish, lime and salt well and then cover and refrigerate overnight for no less than 12 hours. 

Remove from fridge and add coconut cream and minced onion. Stir well.  Serve immediately and sprinkle tomato and diced orange bell pepper over top.  I love serving this dish on a fresh bed of huge lettuce leaves.  I have even had folks roll the Kokoda in a lettuce leaf and eat it like a taco.  If you are really adventuresome, invite some dancers over to give a show to your family and guests.  Or, better yet, have a beach party where less clothing is more fun!  Yum is all I can say. 

 

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Good afternoon fellow spice and herb lovers.  Let us unite today, under grey or blue skies, and make our home a little brighter, lighter and homier with the wonderful aromas created by Chicken Curry, Fijian Indian Style.  Oh yes, let us gather our friends and loved ones and set out tables with bright cloths and drinks of greens, reds and yellows.  Amen.  Let us celebrate life, love and family and friends as we feast and unite over the fresh, delightful cuisine of Fiji!  Take my cyberspace hand and we shall walk through the simple path of cooking this delightful dish.  Don’t forget that the spice mix you will need for this recipe was posted a few days ago.  Just head backwards in my posts, make the blend and you are ready, my friends, to partake of  Chicken Curry.

Photo Courtesy of:  http://www.matavuvale.com/profiles/profile/show?id=joji_Fiji_Living

Chicken Curry Fijian Style

Ingredients:

1 Whole Chicken cut into bite size pieces

5 small cloves of garlic, finely minced

1 small onion, finely minced

Chicken Stock as needed

1 large tomato, chopped

2-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp curry paste

2 tbsp Fijian Curry Spice Blend (see earlier post)

Salt

Preparation:

Add two to three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a medium-sized, deep skillet and heat over medium heat.  Add onions, garlic, 2 tablespoons Fijian Spice Blend and stir for about two minutes.  DO NOT BURN, as spices and oil will become very bitter.   Add 2 tablespoons curry paste ((I recommend a mild curry paste for beginners) and stir well for another minute or so.  Add chicken and salt to taste.  Stir and let cook for 30 minutes over medium heat, stirring to keep chicken from sticking.  If chicken begins to stick I always add a bit of chicken broth to this recipe to keep things simmering along and not burning.  Add chopped tomatoes at end of cooking, stir,  and serve immediately.  My favorite way to finish this dish is with a side of turmeric and saffron steamed rice.  Ummmmmmmmmmmm.  DELICIOUS.  

So simple, but yet so Fijian Indian style.  You will love this recipe and your heart will forever yearn to visit Fiji and wonder at the currents of culture that flow through the Islands and make them what they are today!

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Photo Courtesy of:   www.paradiseinfiji.com/blog/tag/fiji/

Good morning spice mix enthusiasts!  Yes, a Fijian spice blend that you can store and use in your favorite recipe.  What you say?  You don’t know of any Fijian recipes?  Well, not to worry once you have this spice mix made I’ll be posting a wonderful and simple Fiji Chicken Curry dish.  In fact, this spice mix recipe is so aromatic and delicious you’ll want to use it as a body rub. 

Most of the ingredients will be available at any larger grocery store.  If you can’t find a spice, the internet spice market is HUGE and you should have no problem finding the ingredients.  If something can be left out I will indicate so in the mix recipe.  Ummmmmmm.  Let’s get going!  Oh, if you want more than one batch just double or triple the ingredients so you can make more than one dish before having to mix another batch.

Fijian Indian Curry Powder Spice Mix Recipe

1/2 tsp ginger powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp cummin seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds

1 small cinnamon stick

5 cloves

4 whole cardamom

6 dried curry leaves

1/4 tsp coriander

2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp chili

 1 tsp amchoor powder  – Remember Amchoor powder is powdered mango that hasn’t ripened yet.  It has a tart flavor a lot like lime.

3 black peppercorns

1 bay leaf

Take all ingredients and place in large skillet on medium heat.  Dry roast the ingredients until they become aromatic.  DO NOT BURN or OVER ROAST!  Place all ingredients in coffee bean grinder or spice grinder and pulse grinder until spices are a fine powder.  Put blend in a glass jar and cap tightly.  As with all spice blends, but in a dry, cool  place away from sunlight. 

Hey, that was easy, huh?  Now all you have to do is get a great recipe, use your Fijian Curry Spice Blend, and invite great friends and family.   I know, you’re thinking how am I going to find that recipe?  Don’t worry, as I mentioned above, I’ll soon be posting a Fijian Curry Chicken Recipe.  Hang in there and you, your food and your new spice blend will soon be united and become fast friends!

Happy spice mixing!

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Ah, yes.  This is a quote from The Truman Show (1998).  No doubt you are wondering what the heck this has to do with my blog.  Well, not much–or a lot–depending on how your brain works.  Mine works on a wide plain of abstractions and strange zig zags of connections, so it makes perfect sense to use this quote as a segway into my new post on Fijian Cuisine.  Yes, we’re still near the ocean for this post.  Not the roiling, surging, dark and frightening ocean some of us live near, but the soft, blue-green, warm, foaming, see till the end of the earth Ocean of the Fijian Islands. 

 

If this picture from the Fijian Tourist Bureau doesn’t grab you, then nothing will.  Ah, Fiji.  Just a grouping of about 300 islands laying in a beautiful nest of liquid pleasure.  Do we ever hear of Fiji.  Not really.  But it has had two military coups, believe it or not.  And, there are some relatively famous folks from Fiji.  Who you ask, your head turning sideways as you look at your computer screen in doubt.    Vija Singh for one.  Who?  Vija Singh, the world-class golfer.  Any other guesses?  No, well there is Jimmy Snuka a.k.a. “Superfly” the former WWF wrestler.  And, lest you think there are only two famous folks from Fiji, what about Anand Satyanand?  Umm humm.  The Governor General of New Zealand is from Fiji.  Sigh.  Just think of the minutia you have learned from reading this simple spice and herb blog!

The cuisine and spices of Fiji, which is really our topic today, is a melting pot of various cultures that have infiltrated the Islands.  Fijian cooking has been influenced by Polynesians, Indians, Chinese, Dutch and other Europeans, Africans, and even Melanesians.  Fijian cuisine is a lovely mixture of many different cultures all adapted to fit local tastes and Island living.  As such, it takes a deft hand to create the subtle tastes  of modern Fijian cuisine. 

The Fijian Islands provide ample perfect weather and growing conditions for many spices and herbs.  Some are indigenous to Fiji and others were brought to Fiji and cultivated.  But, the list is so varied and beautiful that what else but subtle perfection can be expected of Fijian dishes.  So, let’s begin by listing the most common spices used in Fijian cooking.

1.  Vanilla

2.  Pepper

3.  Nutmeg

4.  Cinnamon

5.  Tumeric

6.  Ginger

7.  Cardamom

8.  Coriander

9.  Cumin

10.  Chilies

11.  Fenugreek

12.  Sea Salt

From this list, it is easy to see the outside influences on Fijian cuisine.  Imagine the magical dance of these spices combined with seafood, pork, chicken, goat (yes, they eat goat in Fiji), breadfruit, yam, cassava, taro root, limes, lemons, guava, mango, bananas, pineapple and the ever present and abundantly used coconut milk and flakes.  Can’t you just feel the burst of flavor on your tongue?  Feel the salivation start?   Hang onto your hats kids, and with the next post we will explore some common Fijian dishes that will leave you and your guests yearning for sun, waves, color and relaxation. 

For now, goodnight fine friends and I leave you with this…………………………………

Photo courtesy of:  http://www.paulsmedia.co.nz/images/gallery/fiji_sunset_02.jpg

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Ah, my friends, the final group in the categorization of spices.   And, drum roll please, that category would be amalgamating.  I know, big words are difficult, but this is one you really should know.  Anything that is amalgamating is something that brings other things together.  No, Dougray Scott’s lips are not amalgamating unless they are drawing my lips towards his, then……maybe they are amalgamating.  At least mating, anyway! ; ) 

From this simple definition we can see that amalgamating spices play a critical role in spice mixing.  In essence, amalgamating spices are gentle spices and their flavors bring together  other more strong spices.  It’s much like a romantic dance between lovers–the strong partner may lead, but the weaker, more gentle partner can actually make the dance sing.  A short list of amalgamating spices include:

1.  Sesame Seeds.  Sesame seeds can be black, which means they still have their hulls on.  Or, they can be light colored, which simply means the shells have been removed.   Most often we see dark sesame seeds used in Japanese cooking and light seeds used in all kinds of baking.  I love the light note sesame lends to my Moroccan Madness Moroccan spice blend.  Yummm.

2.  Paprika.  Again, paprika can come in a number of subtly different  flavors, depending on the plant it is harvested from.  The paprika plant is a member of the chili family and as a spice it usually comes in powdered form.  Paprika can range from sweet to hot and the color can vary from a brown red to a brighter crimson.  The fresher the paprika the brighter the color and better the flavor.

3.  Coriander.  Coriander seed is often used in Asian cooking and is quite mild, holds a beautiful bouquet, and is gentle on the palate.  Coriander is one of my favorite spices and I use it often in my blends. 

4.  Poppy Seed.  We are all familiar with poppy seeds being used for baking purposes.  We are used to seeing the beautiful blue colored varieties in many pastries and breads.  We are less used to seeing the lighter colored poppy seeds which can be ground and used as a thickener.  The blue seeds have a slightly nutty flavor when cooked and they lend a gentle undercurrent to baked goodies.

5.  Fennel Seed.  Fennel seeds (like the fennel bulb) tastes a bit like anise, except that it is noticeably sweet to the palate.  I grew up watching my Italian grandmother and mother cook with fennel seeds and bulbs.  I have learned to love the flavor of the vegetable or the seed.  Fennel is a staple of mediterranean cooking. 

6.  Tumeric.    Tumeric comes from a tropical plant root and has a wonderful earthy flavor that mixes well with many other spices and herbs.  Tumeric is a large component in my Moroccan Madness, Moroccan spice blend as well as some of my Middle Eastern blends.  Curry would not be the same, well blended, aromatic delicacy without the use of Tumeric to unite the other ingredients.

See?  Amalgamating wasn’t so bad, was it?  I didn’t think so.  Without even realizing it you are beginning to understand the basics of spice mixing.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to those of you interested in spices that you obtain samples of as many spices as you can.  Take a pinch, close your eyes and apply to your tongue.  Roll the flavor around your tongue, breath out through your nose and get acquainted.  You’ll find you soon fall in love with spice mixing!  I do know that My Spice Sage (on-line) has sample packets that you can purchase for trial.  They are reasonably priced and their selection is good.

Goodnight!  Don’t forget the etsy page to see fine artisans from around the world.  Let’s all buy handmade and make the world a better place!

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Hello spice and herb lovers!  Let’s get to it, shall we?

As was mentioned in my last post spices come in 5 flavor groupings:  sweet, hot, tangy, pungent and amalgamating.  Tonight we’ll take a look at pungent spices.  Pungent spices usually pack a punch and not much is needed to add flavoring to a dish or spice blend.  I once read that spice mixes that dare to contain pungent spices make the difference between mass production spices and gourmet spices.  Try them and I think you will like the bang pungent spices add to any dish.

So, you are asking, what spices are considered pungent spices.  Well, let’s just settle that and take a look at a few.

Ginger:  Ginger is a well-known spice that packs a burst of flavor.  Believe it or not the punch of ginger root can vary by how old the root is when harvested.  Older roots have a heavier flavor than young roots.    You find ginger in used in Asian dishes and some Indian dishes.  We’ve all tasted deserts that have ginger in them, drinks with ginger ale, and savory dishes with ginger.

Star Anise:  Star Anise is not only my shop logo, but it is considered a pungent spice.  Star Anise tastes like licorice and is obtained from the Chinese Magnolia tree.  Anise is used most often in Chinese cooking, but my Italian family uses anise for many deserts and even savory dishes!

Juniper:  For those of you who haven’t tried Juniper berries, I have one work for you–pucker, pucker, pucker.  Juniper berries are quite astringent and most of you know it from the ads on television stating that it is the major ingredient in gin.  Without a doubt, this piney flavored black/blue berry is a pungent spice and only a very small amount is need as a flavoring.  As the stories of old go, juniper berries were a favorite of trappers for flavoring their wild meats. 

Cumin:  Cumin is a pungent spice, but I often don’t consider it as such.  I love its earthy flavor in curries of all sorts.  Cumin was used early Egyptians and originally it came from Africa.  Many of you know that Cumin is used in Mexican cooking, but Cumin is not native to Mexico.  It was brought to Mexico by the Spaniards.

Saffron:  Saffron is a beautiful, light, but pungent spice.  If you don’t think it is pungent, just use a bit too much.  Saffron is the most expensive spice available as it consists of the tiny stigmas of the crocus flower.  These stigmas are hand-picked and each flower has a very limited number of stigmas.  Pickingy saffron is a labor intensive activity and thus, its expensive nature.  I personally don’t use powdered saffron, as it can lose a lot of its punch.  I like using the whole stigmas and soak them in some warmed water prior to use.  We see saffron used in many cuisines from Indian Cooking, to Spanish Cooking, to Middle Eastern cooking.  Yum!

Other pungent spices can include:  Lemon Myrtle, Cardamom, Celery Seed, Cloves, Caraway Seeds, Nigella Seeds, and Fenugreek.

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