The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FOOD & DRINK -

These are some of the spices I use most of­ten. They’re all avail­able from most su­per­mar­kets or Asian stores.

Cin­na­mon (above) Equally at home in savoury or sweet dishes, cin­na­mon is used in Chi­nese, In­dian, Moroc­can and Span­ish cui­sine. Use whole to in­fuse slow-cooked dishes, or ground to give a sub­tler flavour.

Fen­nel seeds (be­low) These have an un­mis­tak­able anise-like flavour and a hit of fresh wood­i­ness, as well as a de­li­cious flo­ral qual­ity. They’re used in ev­ery­thing from French to Ital­ian cook­ing, as well as Chi­nese five-spice pow­der. De­li­cious with fish and veg­eta­bles, they also go won­der­fully with pork.

Star anise (above) Al­though closely as­so­ci­ated with Chi­nese cook­ery, this beau­ti­ful­look­ing spice is also found in the cuisines of south­ern and south­east Asia. Each of its eight points con­tains a shiny seed and it has a ver­sa­tile

aniseed flavour as well as a pleas­ant hint of liquorice. It is de­li­cious when rubbed over duck be­fore roast­ing, but I think it im­parts the most fan­tas­tic flavour when used whole.

Turmeric (right) This is a key spice in the Ayurvedic sys­tem of medicine as well as in the kitchen. It is a rhi­zome, sim­i­lar to gin­ger, but is bright or­ange in­side – it turns bright yel­low when dried, and has an earthy, slightly mus­tardy smell when ground that adds a depth of flavour as well as colour to dishes. Fresh turmeric root has the same earth­i­ness along with a de­light­ful flo­ral note.

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