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We all know the most commonly used spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and mostly use them in baked goods. But what about all the other spices and exotic combinations? Like Chinese Five-Spice—a sultry blend of fennel seed, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and Sichuan peppercorns. Great to sprinkle on homemade roasted peanuts!
Or to consider a totally different spice profile, the cardamom seed. A native of India, this extremely flavorful spice has spread throughout the world—the white pod form is used in Scandinavian baked goods, green pods are preferred in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, the unique black pod is used in African cooking, with its alluring and smoky flavor. I love it in squash soups!
Here’s a recipe with a multitude of seeds—including black mustard, coriander and cumin seeds—crushed and mixed with vibrant yellow turmeric, sassy cloves, and cinnamon, then stirred into Dijon mustard, oil, fresh ginger and kosher salt. I like to rub this zoomy-flavored paste on pork tenderloin 30 minutes before cooking. The rub imparts all the nice spice into the meat, which roasts up into a juicy, fragrant, d’lish dish. This is so wonderful served with simple, steamed basmati rice!
If you’re new to cooking with spices, I suggest going to the bulk section of a PCC grocery store or one of the spice shops around town, like Market Spice or World Spice, where they have loads of loose spices; there you can buy just what you need, be it a pinch or a squiggle. Then, try my recipe—or create some of your own—to see what “spice of life” you can bring to your cooking!
Fragrant Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
Makes about 4 to 6 servings
2 pork tenderloins, 1- to 1 1/2-pounds each
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Place a rack in a shallow roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. With paper towels, pat the pork dry then pull off any loose fat. In a mortar and pestle, crush the chili flakes, mustard, coriander and cumin seeds, and cloves until coarsely ground. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, put spices in a plastic sandwich bag and set on a cutting board. Smash with a meat mallet, hammer, or heavy pot.
In a large bowl, combine the crushed spices with remaining rub ingredients. Add the pork to the bowl and smear the rub onto all sides of the pork, being sure to use all of the rub. Place tenderloins, nicely spaced apart, on the rack. Let sit for 30 minutes so that the rub will flavor the pork well.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375°F. Cook pork for about 40 to 45 minutes or to an internal temperature of 160°F at thickest part of meat. Remove from oven and let rest 5 minutes before slicing into 3/4-inch-thick pieces for service.©Copyright 2009 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®