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10 Far Eastern Spice Blends

Updated on October 20, 2014

Spice Blends from Japan

Although few are spices, the Japanese use many aromatic ingredients in their cooking. The most common are wasabi and sansho, which are exclusive to Japanese cuisine. Also used in moderation are chilies, mustard, ginger and sesame. The following blend is a popular Japanese spice mixture. It is used both in the kitchen and as a table condiment, to flavor soups, noodles and grilled meats.

SHICHIMI TOGARASHI
7 Spice Mix

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
  • 3 teaspoon sansho
  • 1 teaspoon small pieces of dried laver (seaweed called mori in Japan)
  • 3 teaspoons flakes of dried tangerine peel
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder (togarashi)
  • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

Preparation:

  1. Grind the white sesame seeds and sansho coarsely.
  2. Add the laver and dried tangerine peel and grind again briefly.
  3. Stir in the remaining spices and blend well.

This blend will keep for three to four months in an airtight container.

GOMASIO

Goma is the Japanese name for sesame. This mixture is used as a condiment to sprinkle on rice, raw vegetables and salads. It is also good on boiled potatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 5 teaspoons black sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt

Preparation:

  1. Lightly roast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a minute or two, stirring frequently.
  2. Allow to cool,then grind them together with salt.

This blend will keep for three to four months in an airtight jar.

Spice Blends from China

Chinese supermarkets stock large bags labeled mixed spices. These large bags contain cassia, star anise, cardamom, dried ginger, fagara, licorice root and cassia buds. This mixture is used in a technique common throughout China called flavor-potting. The meat is steeped in a rich spiced sauce; the sauce permeates the meat and the meat enriches the sauce

But, the best known spice blend is five-spice powder, which is used throughout southern China and Vietnam to season roast meat and poultry, and to flavor marinades. Although it usually consists of the five basic ingredients, it can also have up to two of the the following spices: cardamon, dried ginger and licorice root. The powder varies in color, from tan to gingery-brown to amber.

FIVE-SPICE POWDER

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon star anise
  • 1 tablespoon fagara
  • 1/2 tablespoon cassia or cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon cloves

Preparation:

  1. Grind all the ingredients together and use sparingly.

This blend will keep for three to four months in an airtight container.

SPICED SALT

Used as a dip for raw or deep fried vegetables, roast meat and poultry, this salt is served in small bowls.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons fagara

Preparation:

  1. Dry roast the salt and fagara in a heavy frying pan over a medium heat until the fagara darkens.
  2. Allow to cool,then grind them together.

This blend will keep for up to four months in an airtight jar.

Home Made or Store Bought?

Do you prefer to make your own spice blends? Or buy them already made?

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Trassi is a firm paste made from fermented shrimp; it is extremely pungent.
Trassi is a firm paste made from fermented shrimp; it is extremely pungent.

Spice Blends from Indonesia

Indonesian cooking is richly spiced with ginger, turmeric, galangal, lemon grass, aromatic leaves and herbs, but most importantly with chilies. In addition to the spices used in the preparation of a dish, Indonesians make a range of relishes, based on chilies, called sambals. These are served in small dishes on the table. Some are fiercely hot because the chili seeds have been left in; all are highly aromatic. The Indonesians use a chili called lombok, similar to tabasco when making sambals but other small red chilies can be substituted.

Note: Take great care when handling chilies as they can burn.

SAMBAL OELEK

Ingredients:

  • 250 grams fresh red chilies (8 oz)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar

Preparation:

  1. Heat a heavy frying pan and put in the chilies after two to three minutes.
  2. Dry roast over a medium heat for a few minutes.
  3. Cool, then chop finely and pound to a paste with the salt and sugar.

The chili seeds may be taken out, or left in if you want a really fiery relish. The sambal will keep for about a week in a jar in the refrigerator.

SAMBAL BADJAK

Ingredients:

  • 10 fresh red chillies
  • 2 onions
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • Small piece of trassi
  • 5 candlenuts
  • 1-2 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground galangal
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 250 grams thick coconut milk (8 oz)

Preparation:

  1. Pound or process the chilies, onions, garlic, trassi and candlenuts to a smooth paste with the tamarind and galangal.
  2. Heat the oil and fry the paste for a few minutes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and cook gently for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture thickens.
  4. Cool, and store in a jar in the the refrigerator.

SAMBAL TRASSI

Ingredients:

  • Small piece of trassi
  • 4 - 5 fresh red chilies
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

Preparation:

  1. Wrap the trassi in foil and grill until it darkens, or bake in preheated oven at 350º Fahrenheit for a few minutes.
  2. Remove the seeds from the chilies and chop finely.
  3. Pound or process the trassi and chilies with the other ingredients until yu have a smooth paste.

Variations:

SAMBAL ASEM - Add an extra teaspoon sugar and 1-2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate.

SAMBAL KEMIRI - Add 10 candlenuts that have been dry roasted and ground.

These blends will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

Tamarind Concentrate
Tamarind Concentrate

Spice Blends from Thailand

Thailand has the same affection for chilies as Indonesia, and uses them with garlic, coriander, lemon grass and tamarind. Sauces called Nam prik, made with chilies (prik), shallots, garlic and trassi are the local equivalent of sambals. These are made quickly with no hard and fast rules. The sauces vary from region to region and cook to cook. Nam prik is eaten with vegetables, rice and fish.

ROASTED NAM PRIK

Ingredients:

  • 5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 5 shallots, unpeeled
  • 5 fresh red chilies
  • Small piece of trassi
  • 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
  • 2 tablespoons peanuts

Preparation:

  1. Put the unpeeled garlic and shallots over a barbecue or in a heavy cast iron frying pan and grill or dry fry until skins are dark brown and insides are soft.
  2. Dry fry the chilies and the trassi wrapped in foil, until the trassi darkens and the chilies soften.
  3. Peel the garlic and shallots, chop the chilies, removing the seeds, and pound or process everything to a paste.

Keeps for about a week in a jar in the refrigerator.

NAM PRIK
For Raw Vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 4 dried red chilies
  • 6 dried shrimp
  • Small piece of trassi
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soft brown sugar
  • juice of one lime

Preparation:

  1. Remove the seeds from the chilies and chop.
  2. Pound or process them with the dried shrimp.
  3. Heat the trassi and then crumble it and pound with the garlic.
  4. Combine all ingredients except the lime juice and process.
  5. Add the lime juice, a little at a time, so that the sauce remains fairly thick.

Store in the refrigerator.

Dried Red Chilies
Dried Red Chilies

Thai Curry Pastes

Curries are an important element in the Thai menu. They are flavored with ferociously hot pasts made of spices and either red, green or yellow chilies, according to the ingredients used. As in India, the spice mix is prepared when needed and is not usually stored, but these pastes will keep for a bout a month or so in the refrigerator.

RED CURRY PASTE

Ingredients:

  • 3 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 10 dried red chilies
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander root
  • 1 tablespoon ground galangal
  • 2 teaspoon grated lime peel
  • Small piece of trassi
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

  1. Chop the shallots, garlic and lemon grass.
  2. Heat a heavy frying pan and add the coriander and cumin seeds after two to three minutes.
  3. Dry roast until they darken, shaking the pan to prevent burning.
  4. Allow to cool, then grind to a powder with the peppercorns.
  5. Remove the seeds from the chilies and chop.
  6. Pound or process all the ingredients into a smooth paste.

GREEN CURRY PASTE

Ingredients:

  • 3 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 10 fresh green chilies
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander root
  • 1 tablespoon ground galangal
  • 2 teaspoon grated lime peel
  • Small piece of trassi
  • salt to taste

Preparation:

  1. Chop the shallots, garlic and lemon grass.
  2. Heat a heavy frying pan and add the coriander and cumin seeds after two to three minutes.
  3. Dry roast until they darken, shaking the pan to prevent burning.
  4. Allow to cool, then grind to a powder with the peppercorns.
  5. Remove the seeds from the chilies and chop.
  6. Pound or process all the ingredients into a smooth paste.

BONUS!

© 2013 Eco-Lhee

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