Cooking tips

10 hottest cooking ingredients for 2013

Stock up on these ingredients and try them in our recommended Chatelaine recipes!

Red pepper sauce with sriracha

Red pepper sauce with sriracha

It’s always a fun practice to anticipate and track the food trends and ingredients that we’ll be eating and discovering in our kitchens and restaurants each season. This year, I’m seeing the emergence of big, bold and intense flavours. So stock up on and experiment with these new flavours as you’ll be seeing more of them on menus and recipes over the next year.

1. Gochujang

Everything fermented is hot right now, and gochujang is definitely one of the top ‘it’ ingredients. Gochujang is a fermented Korean chile paste (made naturally from red chiles) that’s packed with flavour and has a slightly sweet, quite salty and spicy finish. Gochujang is used to make various types of kimchi and is also a familiar flavour in a bowl of bibimbap. It is also a staple in many soup, stew and Asian noodle recipes. Find it at specialty grocery stores or in Asian markets. It will keep in your fridge for months.

2. Cumin
Sure, you may have some lurking in the back of your cupboard but when was the last time you used it? Get ready to cook with it this year! Invest in some new ground cumin (or alternatively buy it whole and grind it). Cumin is very popular in a wide range of recipes and adds an earthy, distinct flavour to your dishes.

Try it: Use cumin in our Moroccan vegetable stew.

3. Hot and smoky paprika
Paprika has always been a staple in our spice cupboard, but it’s time to think beyond the typical mild, subtle paprika we’re accustomed to. Paprika is the combination of dried bell or chile peppers, therefore there are as many varieties as there are peppers. Next time you are in a specialty store, take a look for either a smoked or hot paprika. Hot paprika is made from chili peppers and will add heat along with that paprika flavour we love. Smoked paprika has even more depth – it too is generally made from chile peppers (therefore spicy) that are dried through a smoking process, leaving a smoky, spicy finish.

Try it: Smoked paprika in our roadside fish tacos.

4. Fresh horseradish
Available in the root vegetable section of most grocery stores, fresh horseradish delivers that wonderful flavour without the acidic impact of the vinegar in prepared horseradish. Be warned: fresh horseradish can be extremely hot (the hotter, the better I  say!), so try a small amount when adding it to your dishes. Try adding finely grated fresh horseradish to your mashed potatoes or serve it with fish.

5. Juniper berries
Typically, the juniper berries available to us are dried, and can be used whole, cracked or sometimes ground. They are the ingredient that gives gin it’s ‘pine-like’ flavour. With game meats and rustic dishes on trend, juniper is a natural accompaniment of these products. They can be hard to find – and you may need to look for them in a specialty store. They are excellent with bison, venison, rabbit and can also be used in desserts.

6. Harissa
Like many curry pastes, harissa is a combination of multiple spices (sometimes ten, sometimes thirty!) that together create this distinct chile pastes. Harissa is a North African chili paste, and is traditionally made with Piri Piri peppers  – and piri piri peppers are very hot, so heads up! There are many other variations of harrissa that range in flavour and heat depending on the chili combination. made with other chilis. It can be found in supermarkets and most specialty stores.

Try it: Make our homemade version of spicy harissa.

7. Kaffir lime leaves
These gems are the leaves of a kaffir lime tree and are the secret weapon in many Southeast Asian dishes – in particular green curry. Kaffir lime leaves are incredibly aromatic and bring a subtle but distinct flavour to dishes. Don’t try replicating the flavour with lime zest – it misses the mark. The flavour is lime-like, but with floral undertones and has its own wonderful qualities. Available at some grocers and most Asian markets, keep them in your crisper for up to a week and then store them away in your freezer.

Try it: Use the leaves in our delicious classic tom yum soup with chicken and shrimp.

8. Ginger
Keep a knob in your fridge – always. Ginger brightens up many dishes, bringing a freshness to many sauces. Keep it stored in your fridge for up to a week, or freeze it and grate it while frozen on a fine grater.

9. Sriracha
Okay, not exactly a new ingredient trend-wise, but one that will definitely hold its own this coming year. This orange-red chile sauce is made up of chilies, vinegar, salt, sugar, tomatoes and garlic. Start with a dab, and add more as desired. Great to add to sauces and soups.

Try it: Sriracha adds heat to our red pepper sauce.

10. Agave syrup
Lately, many dishes and desserts are calling for alternative sweeteners to sugar. Agave syrup comes from the agave plant and because it is very sweet, use it sparingly.

Try it: Use the syrup in our super-awesome chocolate muffins.

Fabulous spice tip: When purchasing dried spices for new recipes, buy them in their whole form instead of ground. This will avoid overcrowding in your pantry and you’ll have them available in both forms (ground and whole). Use your coffee grinder to blend the spices. To clean your coffee grinder, run a few batches of white rice through to remove the scent (warning, you may taste the spices for your first few batches of coffee). Alternatively keep a second grinder on hand for spices.