Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Grains of Paradise

I sometimes get mildly obsessed with unobtainable ingredients. This time, it was grains of paradise. I kept reading about them, their peppery herbiness, all the wonderful things you could do with them. I searched exhaustively, but hadn't been able to locate them, and was about to resort to buying them online.

















But then I got a sample baggie from Marx Foods. What joy! What excitement! What the heck do I do with them?

By the way, you can read more about grains of paradise at Foodista.

Grains Of Paradise on FoodistaGrains Of Paradise

The first thing I did was inhale. Yum. Reminded me a little of cedar. Next, I popped one in my mouth. Not too peppery at first, it comes on gradually. Plus there's some kind of lemony thing going on. And something else indescribable (at least to me).

On to actual cooking. I had a handful of fresh fava beans (thank you Northgate Market!) blanched and peeled. And I had some caramelized onions. And of course there's bacon in the freezer. Mix it all up (sauté in residual bacon fat, of course), a little salt, and crushed grains of paradise.

















The verdict? Loved it. The lemony zing was lost, I think because of the overpowering flavors of the bacon and onion. But the tingly pepperyness was there, slightly different from white or black pepper. Delicious. I can't wait to see what else my brain comes up with for the little seeds.

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10 comments:

Bob said...

I've never heard of those before, are they like szechuan peppercorns? Sounds good, either way.

Vicki said...

Hey Bob - Not numbing like Sichuan peppercorns, but very similar in taste. See here for Amanda Hesser's description. Love them.

Nicole said...

I love fresh favas! Guess I'd better head to Northgate Market!

Vicki said...

Hi Nicole - Do! They have fresh garbanzos too!

Desco said...

Great in beer. (Not... sprinkled on your newly opened Miller Genuine Draft, I mean as a flavoring in a good dark home-brew.)

Here's an ingredient from an Ancient Roman Cuisine class I took that you will actually go crazy trying to find-- Silphium.

Betts said...

Thanks for introducing me to another new thing. I think of you sometimes when I'm grocery shopping, "I wonder what Vicki would make with that?"

Vicki said...

Hey Desco - Damn you! Stop tempting me with extinct ingredients!

Hi Betts - I'm flattered :)

Jude said...

Grabbed a handful of grains of paradise at the local spice shop even if I didn't know what to do with it. Nice sub for pepper, and that's just about the only thing I ended up doing with it.

Vicki said...

Hi Jude - I can't think of anything other than a pepper sub either. But it's got that lemony twist to kind of mix it up a bit. I'm having fun experimenting.

Dazy said...

Yes we did enjoy your stuffed tomatoes very much. About this time, how could you think of a recipe so quickly! And turned out with ease, so nice of you, really.