I'm a pretty amateur cook. I usually just use all purpose seasoning but I want to get into building my own flavour profiles.
Red pill me on the following spices. What should they be used for? When should they be avoided?
spice blend for chili or powdered chilis? if it's powdered chili, use it in anything.
tomatoes, meat, vegetables
you can use spices any way you want, but these are suggestions
Cumin - Used in Indian, Middle Eastern and North African cuisines. Found its way into some Spanish dishes because Moors, and ended up in Mexican food.
Chili Powder - Two things can be labeled chili powder: dried ground up chili peppers and a blend for making chili (which is usually chili peppers, cumin, oregano, salt and somtimes mustard). I would never buy the blend because you can easily make your own, but dried chilies are very useful if you like spicy food.
Thyme - This is an herb. Herbs are better fresh, but thyme is fine dried. Used in French, Italian, Cajun and some Caribbean cooking. One of the herbs found in "poultry seasoning".
Sage - Another herb - unless you're making sausage use fresh if you can. Used in traditional American cooking and very popular in Tuscany. Also part of "poultry seasoning".
Oregano - Another herb that's fine dried. Used in Italian cooking. (One of the main flavors in a slice joint pizza sauce). Greeks love the fuck out of it.
Basil - Only use fresh. Dried is useless. For many Italians it's the taste of summer. A member of the mint family, but with its own distinctive taste. Not usually cooked with, but added at the end of cooking.
Heavyweight of the spice world. Goes well with damn near anything. Mexican, Tex-Mex, dot head Indian foods, beef, chicken, pork, fish, and eggs all go well with cumin
Middleweight spice. A combination of pepper, cumin, and some other shit, really. Good for most meats, and prominent in Mexican, Tex-Mex, southwestern meals. Works well with cumin.
Some lightweight shit that I don't much care for.
Same as thyme. Not one of my preferred spices.
A good spice that can be used for a variety of meals. Great with maters', and good on chicken and in meat sauces.
one of those catch-all spices, it's strong enough to overpower most other stuff when consumed raw and tastes good enough to be compared to hot sauce.
chili pepper powder is same as cumin (though obviously has a different taste), while chili powder is a mix of spices that's used to balance out a specific combination of tomatoes, lentil and meat (hence, chili)
A leaf spice, it falls under the "MSG for white people" category alongside basil, bay leafs, parsley and so forth. Weak in most soup based dishes, it's not quite as essential as bay leafs.
Haven't used it before, but should be similar to thyme
An oil booster, this is "MSG for sauces". Avoid serving raw, make sure to fry it at least once.
See thyme. Slightly sweet.
Note that rosemary and terragon, despite being green and share visual similarities to basil/so forth, are strong as fuck and should not be grouped under the "MSG for white people" label.
This desu, building a spice profile just takes time and experimenting, you're going to make a lot of shit that comes out like ass when you first start.
All these other people just spouting dishes or types of cuisine are wasting your time, it's much better to use them interchangeably and build a good pallet for making combinations.
If that takes too much time for you then just reference recipes before you cook something.
Oh, I should add:
Serving cumin raw -> use whole cumin
Using cumin in a dish -> use cumin powder
Cumin doesn't taste like much of anything if you dump whole cumin into the pan, while serving cumin powder raw is often too strong (and you also have to worry about how long the cumin's been oxidizing and so forth since it's infinitely more noticeable with raw cumin)
It's good to learn how spices are used in regional cuisine or specific dishes because sometimes you want to create a distinct flavor profile or create an identifiable taste. The problem with fusion is sometimes you end up with con-fusion.
Other than that it is important to learn how to created a balanced flavor profile by balancing salt, fat, acidity, heat, sweetness, savory, and complexity. I don't think you are going to develop it by yourself on quarters of egg because in my experience people don't have a very good baseline for what good food taste like. Before you experiment with spices you need to follow established recipes and taste good food so you have a more accurate baseline to work off of.
Tasting a simple recipe that's actually delicious is basically despair inducing.
All that effort you'd put into making what you'd felt like was your best looks silly in retrospect.
Case in point, a goddamn hamburger.
>It's good to learn how spices are used in regional cuisine or specific dishes because sometimes you want to create a distinct flavor profile or create an identifiable taste.
This. Certain cuisines are anchored by specific flavor combinations and ideas about what flavors compliment each other. For example French cuisine leans away from spices and acidity (with the exception of salads) because the food is often meant to pair with dry wine, which provides the acid contrast. Eating French food without wine is a sure way to make it seem heavy and even kind of stodgy. Mexican, Indian and SEA food is not often paired with wine, so the balance of spice and acid is usually in the food itself.
Well that's how you learn. One of the ongoing lessons our chef does is he gives us recipes that are underseasoned to get us in the ballpark then has us season it to our satisfaction. Then he will taste it and tell us what he thinks and how to adjust it. The range he accepts is wide enough that we don't get locked into creating exactly the same sauce but narrow enough to pull us to a similar standard. He will have several of us work of the sauce then combine them so there is consistency in our product over the service period.
This desu, even though I wouldn say to follow recipes that closely its very important that you have the notion of how its supposes ro taste, and that envolves knowing very well what difference that spice makes and knowing the right eq between acidity, sweetness and saltiness. If you have no clue how its suposed to taste or how to achieve it then a look at recipes is important, but dont choose just one to follow see various and see what they have in common, what is essential in each. As >>7279856 said smell and taste play a big role in this, season as you go and try to learn why each taste is relevant and why it works in each dish so you learn how do do it by instinct and rely progressively less on premade recipes
pick a cuisine. italian, middle eastern, french, whatever and try some recipes
then try add more of this or more of that, or add this instead of that
continue until you find out what you like. challenge yourself to use something new every single time you cook or something used in a new way. challenge yourself to use things you didn't like in ways that you do. everything tastes good when done right
develop your own style, not for the sake of novelty or to have a style in and of itself but just based on what you would find more enjoyable
you will be a master in no time