Asian-style dishes use a range of herbs, spices and seasonings, and if you cook quickly, you may forget to add an essential ingredient. You can get more predictable results by making your own seasoning blends for dishes such as fried rice. For best results, buy freshly packed dry and powdered spices at a high-traffic store that sells a lot of spices, such as a local ethnic grocery store. Using high-quality, fresh spices ensures a more flavorful fried rice blend.
Measure small, but equal amounts of your favorite powdered spices into a clean, dry bowl. Start with small amounts, so that you can add more of the spices that you want to feature as you adjust the blend's flavor. For example, add 1 teaspoon each of powdered garlic, cumin, onion, ginger and Chinese five spice -- which is a spice blend itself. Add less chilli powder than the other spices, unless you're looking for a spicy dish. Experiment with spices that suit your palate.
Sprinkle on a dash of salt, which helps you discern flavors, and mix up the fried rice blend with a clean, dry spoon. Dampen your finger on you tongue, tap it in the mix and taste it.
Roll the flavors around your tongue. Add more of what you want to taste to lessen the impact of spices you don't wish to pronounce. For example, cumin has a strong and slightly bitter taste, so you may wish to add a small spoonful more of garlic powder to lessen its impact on your fried rice.
Transfer the spice blend to a clean, dry jar with a lid. Ideally, recycle an empty spice container, since most come with convenient sprinkle tops. Use a funnel to transfer the fried rice blend if your jar has a narrow opening. Stick a piece of masking tape on the jar and label it for easy recognition.
- You may not find herbs and spices blended blended together in the same jar at the grocery store, but there's no rule that says you can't add dry herbs to your fried rice blend if you so choose. Add any dry herb that you enjoy tasting in your fried rice, such as basil or coriander.
- It's important to use completely dry utensils when mixing spice blends. Any moisture on the utensils causes the spices to clump or harden, and the dry herbs to wilt, which makes the blend unusable over time.
- Write down the amounts of spices you use as you create your spice blend. This way, you'll be able to remake the blend quickly and easily when you run out.
Maya Black has been covering business, food, travel, cultural topics and decorating since 1992. She has bachelor's degree in art and a master's degree in cultural studies from University of Texas, a culinary arts certificate and a real estate license. Her articles appear in magazines such as Virginia Living and Albemarle.