Getting Spicy in 2009

Just like skirt lengths, hot colors and strappy thing-a-ma-jigs come and go on the runway, so goes the way of trendy flavors when it comes to predicting spice trends. Some years it’s all about fish sauce and ginger and other years it’s smoked Spanish paprika and acorn fed ham. Earlier this year, The Nibble, reported on what spice giant McCormick is predicting will be the hot flavors for 2009.

Cayenne Pepper – especially when matched with tart cherry. McCormick recommends incorporating these two flavors with the sweetness of corn in either corn bread or spoon bread.

Chinese Five Spice Powder – used to season cured pork. Bacon and pancetta are great choices to match with five spice powder. Since most home cooks are not curing their own bacon, try sprinkling a little of this herb blend (which includes cinnamon, clove, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns) on fresh side/pork belly or pork chops that will be grilled.

Dill – oddly combined with expensive, and hard to find, avocado oil. Both of these flavors are great match to the light seafood flavor of shrimps or scallops.

Garam Masala – used to season Mexican pepitas (pumpkin seeds). McCormick recommends using the pepitas in breading seasoned with garam masala or mixing the two flavors in a pasta salad.

Mint – the popularity of mint outside of sweet dishes comes and goes and here they predict it matching with the chewy, nuttiness of quinoa. Try using the mint in a dressing for a cold quinoa salad.

Tri-Color Peppercorn Mix – matched with the clean taste of sake – use the peppercorns in a rub and use the saké in a broth or a marinade.

Rosemary – particularly with fruity jams and then with cheese – think a rosemary infused cheesecake with a think preserve or jam topping.

Smoked Paprika – smoky, dried peppers have their heat offset by agave nectar. McCormick recommends using the paprika and nectar together for a spicy sweet sauce on shrimp, or adding a little paprika to an agave-sweetened margarita.

Tarragon – with beetroots (hmm . . . ) McCormick recommends using the tarragon in a vinaigrette to dress the beets.

Toasted Sesame – mixed with the taste of true root beer (personally I’m not a root beer fan, so I’ll take their word for it). McCormick recommends using root beer in a cake recipe and adding toasted sesame seeds to the batter.

McCormick tracks these trends through chefs, cookbook authors and food technologists.

- GE, 3/11/09 Leave a Comment
Gina Edwards is a cooking instructor and editor of

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