Cooking with Seeds
Toasting poppy, sesame, coriander and mustard seeds brings out their intense flavor.
Some small ingredients really exhibit big taste. Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, coriander seeds and mustard seeds all have intense flavor, but most of us have no idea of what to do with these overlooked flavor firecrackers.
Here are a few tips to get some intense flavor from some small ingredients. First of all, all seeds taste a hundred times more pronounced when they are first toasted in a dry saute pan for 1 to 2 minutes, moving them around constantly until a strong fragrance is noticed.
Poppy seeds: After toasting, mix into cooked pasta, rice, orzo, couscous or other grains. They are also incredible in cookies, pound cake and even cheesecake. Try mixing fresh berries with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, sugar and poppy seeds. This makes an incredible topping for vanilla ice cream. Try mixing toasted poppy seeds into some olive oil and raspberry vinegar for a dressing for arugula, spinach or field greens, then toss the salad with blue cheese and walnuts.
Coriander seeds: Cilantro is grown from little coriander seeds, so imagine how much concentrated flavor is held within coriander. Make pickled vegetables with coriander seeds by combining equal parts of cider vinegar, about a cup with water and half as much sugar. Add a few spoonfuls of coriander seeds, a pinch of red chili flakes and bring to a boil. Pour this mixture hot over any sliced vegetables, like cucumbers, zucchini slices, radishes, carrots or a combination. Allow them to marinate overnight in the refrigerator and next day you have coriander pickles.
Mustard seeds: Typically used in Indian cuisine, mustard seeds are wonderful sauteed with broccoli and cauliflower with either olive oil or butter.
Sesame seeds: The cornerstone of Asian cuisine, sesame seeds are used in so many recipes. Try black sesame seeds for a varied look and flavor. You can also buy sesame seeds which are flavored with wasabi, chili and cayenne. Use sesame seeds as a breading, stir-fried with vegetables. Or make ponzu, a great dipping sauce, by combining a tablespoon of lime juice, with a quarter cup of soy sauce, pinch of sugar and drizzle of sesame oil. Spice it up with a bit of hot sauce or chili paste. This makes a great dip for crudites, grilled vegetables, and chunks of tofu and tempeh.
—By Chef Steve Petusevsky