7 Herbs and Spices You Should Keep at Home
Cooking is more exciting with the use of herbs and spices for flavoring. I find the natural flavors more appealing rather than the umami taste brought by MSGs and artificial seasonings. There are a lot of herbs and spices (I mean, A LOT!) out there. Mostly, I haven't even tried. But the ones I always have in my kitchen are already great help with my cooking.
Here are the 7 herbs and spices I always have on stack.
Garlic and Onions.
Garlic is the magic bulb that I always use. Whether stir-fried, stew, baked or for marinades, I find it hard to cook without them. I usually crush and chop them a few minutes before cooking so they may release their flavors and aroma. In some dish however, like a slow-cooked fish stew, I just bruise the garlic a little and put them straight to the pot. This creates a cheesy flavor to the garlic.
Onions on the other hand, I use in cooking saute'd vegetables, pork and chicken. They're also good in making sauces for fried fish. Onions give out a sweet, spicy flavor to the dish. Red onions are good for saute's and stir-fries. White onions are good in making soups. Green onions, on the other hand, I use for noodle dish, whether with or without soups.
Be careful, though. The allium compound of the onions may trigger teardrops from your eyes. The trick is to put salt nearby (the salt absorbs the chemicals released by the onions), or chill the onions first before cutting them open, or put the onions aside after cutting them so it won't get in your eyes.
I use ginger mostly in cooking fish and pork innards. Ginger has a very strong flavor that it takes away the stench of the fish. It also works with chicken. Ginger is actually great for chicken soup.
Black or white pepper powder, pepper corns, green or red peppers - these are most of the peppers I use in seasoning my dish. Peppers add a good kick to a meal. Cooking peppers actually give out more flavor rather than just sprinkling them to an already cooked meal.
I use fresh basil in cooking steamed mussels. Basil leaves can also be used in so many pasta dishes. As long as you have cherry tomatoes and olive oil, you can make a pasta dish with basil together with spinach, broccoli or even kale.
If you want your dish to be colorful, put a dash of paprika powder. It also adds texture to the dish. It's not as spicy as you'd think paprika would be. I use it in pasta meals, slow-cooked pork ribs and in cooking adobo, a well-known Filipino dish.
Aroma and spice is what dried paprika gives out. I usually put dried paprika on my pasta recipes.
Dill tips are good in soups and salads.
Other Natural Flavors in the Kitchen
I always have cinnamon at home; however, I don't use it for cooking. We only use cinnamon for our hot drinks and in making cinnamon tea. And oh!, by the way, ginger can also be used in making tea. Ginger tea is great for indigestion, sore throats and colds.
Lime and lemons are also always in the fridge. They make a good salad base with olive oil, honey and just a dash of salt. Lemons and fish sauce is also the perfect condiment for a spicy fish stew dish.
I never ran out of tomatoes, too. If you saute' tomatoes together with garlic and onions, just add egg and you'll make a delicious omelet. Tomatoes are also very easy to cook. They go with almost all kinds of dish, just like the onions.