Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Flavor of the Week: Cumin

Cumin, an ancient spice, is the seed of a plant in the parsley family.  This aromatic is especially popular in Eastern, Asian, Mediterranean, and Southwest cooking.  It is an important ingredient in curry and chili powders.  
Cumin: roasted, normal ground, seeds
Next to salt and pepper, I probably go through cumin faster than any other spice.  I love the flavor.  It works well with corn, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, seafood, beef, chicken, chili.  

Another fan of cumin is the legendary Joel Robuchon, french chef extraordinaire.  In the March 2011 issue of Food & Wine, Robuchon claims cumin to be his favorite ingredient saying, "One should eat cumin every day!" 
 This is how I ate cumin today.

Cumin, coriander, mustard and peppercorns
These whole seeds were toasted until aromatic and then crushed.  Mixed with a bit of brown sugar, the mixture was rubbed into the salmon and allowed to rest for 1 hour prior to grilling.

I embellished the corn salsa with the additions of black beans and red pepper to make this a side dish.  I vary this idea with green beans, various peppers and other seasonal ingredients throughout the year.  It is one of our favorite veggie dishes.  Click here for the recipes.

I found an article in the Wall Street Journal where Joel Robuchon talks about his discovery of cumin.
Moroccan cooking, Mr. Robuchon says, "should be part of the best cooking in the world...Morocco made me discover spices (like cumin and coriander) that I never appreciated before."  The chef says he never ate cumin because it smelled like wood or "smashed insects." But five or six years ago, he ate zaalouk, a dish of eggplant, tomato, lemon confit, coriander and cumin, and realized the combination made the flavors "explode in the mouth." He was against using spices in cooking "for a very long time" but, he says, "in one second I discovered what cooking with spices was all about."
Are you a fan of cumin?
How do you use the spice?  

1 comment:

  1. i very much enjoy cumin. it really adds a nice punch to chili, tacos and veggies!


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