Bottom line… when you go to a restaurant, you expect BIG flavors that you can’t get at home. Besides using fresh, local ingredients where possible, one additional thing we do at Blue Angel is to make sure our flavors aren’t “dull” by grinding our spices daily! Once you step into our restaurant and smell the enticing aromas wafting out of our kitchen, you’ll get an inkling of why we do this.
Why Grinding Spices Is Important
For those of you who are foodies or just curious, why do freshly ground spices bring your food’s flavor to a whole other level? Well, the “zing” of the spice comes from the oils within it. So, when spices are already ground, you suddenly have more surface area which just like laying out that special sweater to gently dry, the spices will also dry out quickly fading away their flavors.
Which Spices Should You Grind
So, do you need to grind ALL spices? No, of course not. You’d be grinding until the cows come home, so you have to pick and choose which ones are the most important. A great example of one that we make sure to grind every day is coriander. Once freshly pulverized, the floral aroma alongside its orange-citrus notes are intoxicating. In addition to coriander, we also mill black and white peppercorns, cumin seeds, anise (if used), and fennel just to name a few.
Tips If You Want To Do It At Home
If you do want to start using fresh seasonings at home, we recommend NOT using your coffee grinder. The oils left from the coffee will drastically change the flavor of each ingredient leaving you wondering why we do it. If you have a mortar and pestle (which is an age-old kitchen tool deserving of its own article), it makes the job quick, thorough and contains the mess. For even lower-tech mashing, pile some spice on your chopping surface and lay the broadside of a knife blade on top. Push down on the flat steel with the palm of your hand, crushing the spice kernels beneath it repeatedly until you get a coarse powder.
When you do start mashing up things like nutmeg or mustard seed, be aware you’ll end up with more volume than you bargained for. To help get you started, here’s a quick conversion for some of the more popular ones:
Black Pepper: One teaspoon of peppercorns will yield about one and a half teaspoons of ground pepper.
Cinnamon: One stick that is about one and a half inches long will yield about one teaspoon of ground cinnamon.
Cloves: Roughly twelve cloves will yield about a teaspoon of ground cloves.
Coriander, Cumin & Fennel: One teaspoon of seeds will yield roughly one and a quarter teaspoons of ground spice.
Nutmeg: Half of the average sized nutmeg will yield about a teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
Mustard Seeds: One teaspoon of mustard seeds will yield about one and a half teaspoons of ground mustard.
Even if you don’t feel like doing it at home, we hope you come in to Blue Angel and taste the difference. And don’t forget, we now have a NEW exciting menu! So be sure to swing by for that as well.