Really craving Chinese but trying to keep your butt out of that place down the street that dowses it all in MSG? Knowing the key flavors used throughout different cuisines can help you become a whizz and whippin’ something up that has international flair, on top of all those gorgeous nutrients.
Might I say, I love herbs! My cabinet is full of them! Using herbs is a great way to add flavor but many of them also give you a nutritional boost as well.
Most nationalities have certain foods or herbs and spices that you will see repeated throughout their recipes. Understanding these can help you when you want to go in the kitchen and satisfy a craving for, say, Italian food. So, if you know you like a certain type of cuisine, learn to master the flavor profiles and you can totally transform just about any dish.
Just experiment with different blends. Sometimes you’ll find certain things you can add less or more of that can take a dish from being good to spectacular.
Below are some common foods and seasonings used in the listed types of cuisines. This list is far from exhaustive but should give you a fair start on the basics.
Key Ingredients: Corn, tomatoes, avocados, onions & peppers or chiles
Key Seasonings: Chili powder, cumin, coriander/cilantro, & oregano
Key Ingredients: Cabbage, Bok Choy/Pak Choy, Green Onions /Scallions, Mushrooms, & Water Chestnuts
Key Seasonings: Salt, Ginger, Garlic, Soy Sauce, Rice Wine, Rice Vinegar, Lemon grass, & Scallions
Key Ingredients: Spinach, Tomatoes, Olives, Onions, & Mushrooms
Key Seasonings: Garlic, Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme & Marjoram
Key Ingredients: Eggplant, Chick Peas, Onions, Cauliflower, Spinach, Cucumber, Potatoes, Cabbage. Okra, Dates, Honey, Olives, Olive Oil, Mint & Parsley
Key Seasonings: Cumin, caraway seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, aniseseed, allspice, turmeric, sumac, baharat (Arabic for “mixed spices”)
Key Ingredients: Everything & the Kitchen Sink
Key Seasonings: Practically anything in your cupboard
Other oft enjoyed flavor profiles of note would be cheese which is typically a combination of subtle & tart from the fermentation. This can often be imitated with the use of lemon, vinegar, or probiotics.
Also, breads often attain their flavor from a period of fermentation. Therefore, lemon and vinegar may also be found in some bread alternative recipes to produce that similarity in the end product.