Spices Every New Orleanian Should Have

We asked some local professionals to share some ideas from their fields. Here they are. Our way of adding spice to the conversations, speaking of which…

In the kitchen at Galatoire’s Restaurant, we focus on quality product and fine cooking techniques. Using the principles of legendary chef Auguste Escoffier as a mentor, less is more at this 106-year-old dining institution.

We pride ourselves on using the best seafood the Gulf has to offer, including fresh fish, shrimp, jumbo lump blue crab, Louisiana crawfish and seasonal soft-shell crab. Although fresh Gulf seafood is the star of Galatoire’s traditional menu, I utilize these spices to enhance the flavors, color and heat.

• Creole seasoning is a Southern ritual; every cook swears by his or her signature twist. At Galatoire’s, we use Creole seasoning to spice up sauces, gumbos and blackened fish. Our special mixture has been in the hands of Galatoire’s cook Fernando Gutierrez since 1979.

• When used wisely, cayenne, along with crushed red pepper, contributes to the heat of any food dish. When slowly cooked out with sauces or soups, the heat should be enjoyed in the back of your throat on the finish.

• Paprika and chili powder provide color with a little flavor, adding roundness to Galatoire’s beloved gumbos.

• Salt and pepper are essential ingredients for seasoning. Black and white peppercorns serve two different purposes: Roasted black peppercorns have a strong sweet essence while white peppercorns contribute a lighter, distinctive hay quality. White pepper and onions are a given, while black pepper holds up well with strong flavors and meats.

• Anise and fennel are key flavors in our oysters Rockefeller. There are many ingredients that make up our Rockefeller topping, but the taste of the sweet licorice that derives from fennel and anise seeds is the flavor that keeps customers coming back for more.

• I admire the ability of
cinnamon and cloves to cross over from savory to sweet through different applications. Their distinct scents and sweet heat pairs perfectly in our café brûlot, complementing the burnt orange peel and brandy, channeling the holidays in every sip.

• Cumin and coriander are personal favorites, and it plays a surprise role in Galatoire’s signature Turtle Soup. We always associate these spices with Mexican foods, but they are commonly used around the world from India to Morocco, and across the Atlantic to South America. I enjoy using these spices because they wake everything up.

• Parsley and lemons are on every plate with butter meunière that adds a nutty liquid finish. Together this is a fantastic gastronomic combination.

• Curry tops my list of spices. At home, I use curry to season everything from zucchini to tomatoes.

Quick tip: Always heat up your dried spices in a pan. Doing so helps release the esters and increases the flavors. Be careful not to burn them.

I encourage you to try out some of the Galatoire’s menu items I mentioned above for yourself. Select recipes and Galatoire’s cookbook are available online at Galatoires.com


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