Is MSG bad for you?

ajinomoto_msg

So, is MSG really bad for you?

Yes? No? Maybe? Definitely. Debatable.

Depending on what you read, who you talk to, and what search terms you use, leads to a different answer. I thought it best to quickly compile a summary of findings from across the Interweb, to create some sort of consensus to hopefully set your mind at ease for the next time you chow down on a bowl of top-ramen.

But first, let’s answer one important question…

What is MSG?

Well, to answer this question we should first ask; what is glutamate? Glutamate (another way of referring to glutamic acid) is one of the most abundant and naturally occurring, non-essential amino acids. Without glutamic acid, we would die. It’s simply called ‘non-essential’ because our body produces enough of it for us to not die. Many foods are naturally high in glutamate (most everything includes at least ‘some’ glutamate) including cheese, kelp, and soy sauce (surprised?). Typically, fermented foods are higher in glutamate than others, leading to things like cheese and soy sauce (and beer!) to be high in glutamate. There are two different types of glutamic acid, free and bound. Generally, free glutamic acid is what triggers the umami reaction. Bound glutamic acid requires cooking to be ‘un-bound.’

MSG, or, Mono Sodium Glutamate, is a sodium salt of glutamic acid made by binding a single ‘free’ glutamic acid ion to a single sodium ion. Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese chemist, originally pioneered the process for extracting and isolating glutamic acid from kombu (kelp), and binding it to a sodium ion for stability and use in food in the early 1900s. Ikeda invented the word ‘Umami’ to describe the effect MSG had on food, leading to the discovery of the fifth flavor profile, ‘tastiness.’

Why does MSG make things taste better?

When MSG is consumed, the saliva in our mouth quickly dissolves the sodium ion, which releases the free glutamic acid to run upstairs and tell our brain, “Oh man, whatever you’re eating is really, really tasty and rich in protein!” Which leads to the ‘tastiness’ profile that umami refers to. In fact, human breast milk is naturally high in free glutamic acid, so even from birth we are programmed to love umami, and therefore ‘tasty’ foods.

So, is MSG bad for you? 

In my honest opinion? No, MSG is not bad for you. However, the real answer is probably more of a, ‘it depends.’ There have been numerous studies on this topic, and most of the research that caused the ‘harmful’ relationship to be identified with humans was due to injections of concentrated does of MSG into rats, which caused lesions on their brains.

From the research I’ve done, it seems that if MSG is bad for anyone, it’s due to abuse and over consumption (which is bad for you almost universally), or due to a ‘sensitivity.’ Glutamic acid is in a class of ‘excitotoxins.’  Excitotoxins, because they are  absorbed so fast, in high doses (and in some cases),  animal studies show that it can harm areas of the brain that are unprotected by the blood-brain barrier. Similar studies were performed on primates, and outside of one study (that I’m aware of) that claims to have recreated the lesions in primate brains, others have tried and haven’t been able to reproduce these same effects.

The debate continues, and is wrought with complexity as there are still discussions on whether this applies to primates at all, considering we are fed glutamic acid from birth. Additionally, the doses being applied to these poor creatures that did suffer  lesions are about 600x higher than what we’d consume regularly… interesting.

Regardless, certain people do report headaches after eating foods rich in glutamic acid, or high in msg. There have been double-blind studies done that have typically shown these to be misreported self-diagnoses, but it’s still very possible that some people are sensitive to this amino acid and therefore do potentially see some ill side effects. I am not one of these people, so I can neither confirm or deny these symptoms exist, but the fact remains that some adamantly point to glutamic acid / MSG as an unhealthy, potentially harmful food additive.

Summary

I honestly think MSG is harmless providing you consume it in normal quantities as you would anything — salt, sugar, alcohol, etc. I simply ask that you look at the research and make your own conclusion. There are many different studies out there,  and here is some additional reading on the topic, including an excellent article on Buzzfeed by an ex-Popular Science honcho, that breaks it down in a meaningful way from soup to nuts.

 

 

Review: Kiwi Knives – A sharp choice!

kiwi-knives-allKiwi Knife Review

Kiwi knives are almost a legend these days; cheap, effective, and fun to use. I’ll start this review with a story…

One day while shopping in San Francisco’s Chinatown I stopped at one of my favorite little shops, The Wok Shop. I was there to buy another one of my favorite knives, a Thai Kiwi Chef’s knife (second from bottom on picture to the left).

The owners here know how to hustle. I mean, really hustle. Which is interesting, because you shouldn’t really need to convince someone on the merits of a carbon-steel wok, a 1-2,000 year old cooking vessel that is essentially perfect in many regards, but they do, and they do an amazing job of it.

I came in, asked for help with a knife (as there is a big sign instructing you to do so), and of course they obliged. She walked over to me and I could sense the pitch about to start, so I stopped her and said, ‘I want the Kiwi chef’s knife.’ She laughed, and said, ‘Oh good! I was about to say, it’s not even worth trying convince you, because either you know it’s the best, or you don’t. For the money, it’s not even worth the conversation.’

This was humorous to me; She’s right. These knives are so inexpensive, it’s simply not worth debating, or trying to convince. Simply spend the $3-5 dollars (+/-) to try one, and see. The only maintenance I’ve ever had to do is use a honing steel, and I use the knives a LOT. I have no doubt at some point they may need professional sharpening or a stone, but, it’s been 2 years and these knives (with proper honing) are still razors.

Models of Kiwi Knives

Presently, Kiwi makes a number of models. I have highlighted my four favorite in the image above, but Importfood.com has just about everything listed here: Import Food Thai Knives

The one they don’t carry, surprisingly, is the more western style chef’s knife (below), which I happen to absolutely love… Here it is on Amazon: Kiwi Knife (8 inches)

Downsides to Kiwi Knives?

The blades are thin. They are adept at chopping, dicing, slicing; you name it. However, when it comes to heavy jobs, these blades are too thin to be effective. However, this is true of most any thin knife, just know before hand that Kiwi also makes a cleaver (not pictured), but it’s also not quite as thick as a traditional Chinese cleaver, or a Dexter (my favorite cleaver).

The wooden handles aren’t great, even though they are attractive. I happen to find them fairly comfortable in my hands, which aren’t very large, so someone with a larger hand might struggle a bit. There is however a solution, as they make the same knives with plastic handles. I find these to be more comfortable than the wooden ones, even if they don’t look as nice.

Summary

Kiwi knives, even with some flaws, are my absolute favorite knives. They are inexpensive, versatile, razor sharp, and hold an edge really well if you know what you’re doing.  There are more expensive knives out there, sure. I am also a firm believer in buying good equipment if it’s something you care about.

However, I am also a firm believer in that if a knife feels good in your hand, and does the job you need it to do, then it’s the tool for you. Using a more expensive knife doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be a better chef, or have a better palette. It simply means you have an expensive knife. Maybe one that you love, and that’s great. However, at this price and for what I honestly feel you get,  my advice to anyone who has gotten this far in this blog post is, ‘Why are you still reading? You should be buying one of these and seeing for yourself.’

The Top 10 Indian Cookbooks

Indian cooking is, without a doubt, one of humanity’s greatest treasures. The evolution of their gastronomy is a fascinating view into the history of the subcontinent, one worthy of greater study and exploration.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history, tradition, and methods of cooking delicious Indian food, the following is a list of the top 10 Indian cookbooks (my current favorites at least) that I wholeheartedly recommend you start with. Enjoy!

 

india-from-mom

10. From Mom with Love…
Pushpa Bhargava

More than just a cookbook, this was written as a helpful guide to cooking and health by an Indian mom for her children. Buy on Amazon

 

 

 india-madhur-a-taste9. A Taste of India
Madhur Jaffrey

A Jaffrey classic, filled with great, ‘undemanding’ recipes & photos and thoughts/recollections on Indian food as a whole, this is a must-have for anyone interested in Indian cooking. Buy on Amazon

 

india-madhur-quick-easy

8. Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking
Madhur Jaffrey

Having gone through 10 prints, this is another Jaffrey classic. She reinforces the ideas that not all Indian cooking requires hours and hours, you can do very well with 30 minutes or less. Buy on Amazon

 

india-dakshin

7. Dakshin – Vegetarian Cuisine from South India
Chandra Padmanabahn

This is proof that Indian cooking is more than Lamb Vindaloo; Vegetarian centric, this is geared towards as-authentic-as-possible south Indian vegetarian cooking… and you won’t even miss the meat. Beautiful photos and excellent recipes make this a no-brainer for a top 10 Indian cookbook list. Buy on Amazon

 

india-classic-indian-cooking

 6. Classic Indian Cooking
Julie Sahni 

Julie Sahni is certainly a long-time heavyweight in the Indian food world, having published many books and even running an Indian cooking school in New York. This is a classic. Buy on Amazon

 

 

india-street-food

5. Street Food of India
Sephi Bergerson

This will probably be a controversial entry on this list… First and foremost – This is the only cookbook (that I’m aware of) solely focused on Indian street food. Second, while this book is focused on street food, it’s largely photo-centric vs recipe-centric (192 pages / 50 recipes). All that aside, the photography is spectacular and recipes divine. This is a must-have addition to any collection. Buy on Amazon

 

india-madhur-indian-cooking

 4. Madhur Jaffrey – Indian Cooking
Madhur Jaffrey

Seeing a pattern here? It’s hard to make a list of great Indian cookbooks and not include Madhur Jaffrey multiple times. She’s published many great books, and I’ve found this one to be exceptional. Great recipes, great photos, and that same wonderful voice that Jaffrey uses in all her books. Warm, inviting, even friendly. Buy on Amazon

 

india-lord-krishna3. Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking Yamuna Devi

This book was the winner of the IACP award a few years ago. Devi’s contribution to the Indian cookbook world is not the most ‘beginner friendly’ book for people just starting out, but for passionate cooks wanting to explore, look no further. Buy on Amazon

 

2. An Invitation to Indian Cookingindia-madhur-invitation-indian-cooking
Madhur Jaffrey

Some may wonder why this isn’t number one on this list… Well, it was a close race. Regardless, this book sparked a revolution in America and firmly planted a love for Indian food in our soil. Stemming from recipes being hand-written and passed around at parties, Jaffrey (an Indian Julia Child if you will) took her knowledge of Indian cuisine and made it approachable for Americans. If there were an emissary of Indian cooking to the western world, well, I’d say without hestitation that it’s Madhur Jaffrey. Buy on Amazon

 

india-cookbook1. India: The Cookbook
Pushpesh Pant

While Madhur Jaffrey holds multiple positions on this list, and is certainly one of the most widely celebrated authors and Indian cooks out there right now, Pushpesh Pant’s exhaustively extensive India: The Cookbook is the largest collection of regional Indian recipes on record. It covers the whole country, is very well laid out and designed (I love Phaidon Press’ books), and very instructive. At 1,000 pages, this is the new Indian cook’s bible. While this isn’t necessarily for beginners, I think it’s got enough variety that beginners will certainly find a place to start exploring. So go do it! Buy on Amazon

‘Tis the season for bockbier!

What is bockbier?You see it every year, sometimes seasonally, on the shelves of your favorite beer / bier / birra purveyor, and you ask yourself… What is bock beer? Maibock? Doppelbock? Eisbock? What the bock?

Origin of bockbier

Bock beer is a lager of German origin, traditionally copper/brown (depending), strong, sweet, malty and lightly hopped, that is generally brewed in the fall/winter and consumed in the spring. It is believed that the first brewing of this lager varietal occurred in the German town of Einbeck, and later adapted by brewers in Munich. Apparently, the Munich brewers with their Belgian accents transformed ‘beck’ to ‘bock,’ giving us the beer we drink today.

At one time, Franciscan (Paulaner, yes, those guys) monks even brewed this beer as a ‘liquid bread,’ at times when solid food was forbidden (during Lenten). I can’t think of a better way to work around Lent than with some finely brewed bock… I’m sure God approved! (Note: Actually, he did… once they finished the beer, realizing how strong it was they actually asked for a special dispensation from the Pope to keep brewing it. The Pope obliged and they carried on, guilt free…) The beer they created, Paulaner Salvator (a doppelbock) has come to inspire (and be copied by) many forms of doppelbock the world over.

In general, bockbier is typically thought of as a beer that is brewed at times of hardship (cold winter months) as a sign of good things to come (spring, festivals, and general merriment), making it a great choice around Christmas time for general family togetherness (read: drunkenness).

Types of Bock

This German lager has taken many forms since inception:

  • Bock
    6.3-7.2% ABV – Copper/light brown color – Rich, malty, ‘toasty’
  • Doppelbock (double bock)
    7-12% ABV – Dark gold, dark brown – Strong (!), rich, chocolatey, noticeable alcoholic strength
    Note: This is beer of the Franciscan monks (see above). Apparently, monks like to get drunks!
  • Eisbock
    9-13% ABV – Deep copper, dark brown – Fruity (raisins, plums, prunes), noticeable alcoholic strength, with occasional hints of chocolatey goodness.
    Note: The strongest of the bocks! Actually frozen to separate and remove the water.
  • Maibock / Helles bock
    6.3-7.4% ABV – Lighter in color than traditional bock – More hoppy and bitter than traditional bock.
    Note: Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale is actually a Maibock despite the name. Also, one of my favorite beers, Einbecker Mai-Urbock, a smoked bierbock, is also in the Maibock style with its malts having been smoked over birchwood. Delicious!

The word ‘Bock’

Regardless of Belgian accent, what does ‘bock’ actually mean? In German, bock is translated to ‘goat.’ You may notice on a number of labels of bockbier that a goat is there in symbol. Additionally, it is thought that ‘bockbier’ is typically inferring ‘strong beer,’ as bocks are usually stronger than their lager counterparts.

Bockbier Summary

Bock is an amazing beer, rich in flavor and steeped in history. I’ve only scratched the surface in this short blog post, but I suggest you go get yourself a Salvator and read up on this fascinating world of bockbier.

Happy Drinking :)

There’s no such thing as fresh shrimp

theres no such thing as fresh shrimpThere’s no such thing as fresh shrimp!

Ok, that’s not true. Obviously when you catch a shrimp on a boat or off the shore, it’s fresh. Yea. If you’re really lucky, you can get these guys right off the boat or pier, and then bam – you’ve got yourself some fresh shrimp. Sometimes you can find fish markets that carry ‘fresh’ shrimp, which I find is somewhat hard to do. Or, maybe you live in Spain, and can get ridiculous fresh shrimp almost everywhere.

“But, wait,” you say… “I go to Whole Foods and see fresh shrimp on the ice!” Yep, you see  shrimp on ice, but they aren’t fresh, buddy…

Frozen shrimp for the win!

Alright, simply put: 99% of the shrimp you find in a grocery store’s ‘fresh fish’ departments are thawed and previously frozen. You might want to read that again: Thawed, previously frozen, shrimp (or skrimps, if you will). Additionally, you’re also probably paying more for shrimp that has been frozen, thawed, and  sitting out in a cooler for hours. Sometimes even for a whole day. Though these shrimp may look like a more enticing ingredient than a rock hard, frozen brick of a decapod…  in reality they are even less ‘fresh’ than frozen shrimp!

In sum, save your money, buy frozen shrimp, and have a better, ‘fresher’ ingredient on your hands at any given moment. But wait, how do you thaw frozen shrimp? Well…

How to thaw frozen shrimp

There are lots of different methods out there…

  • Thaw shrimp in the bag
    Put the frozen shrimp in a zip-lock, suck the air out (optional, but surface contact with the water), put in a bowl of cold/room-temp water, and let a very slow trickle of water run through to keep the water moving.
  • Thaw shrimp in the fridge
    If you have the time, take the frozen shrimp, place (or leave) in a/the bag, and let them sit overnight in the fridge. By far the slowest method but the most efficient (no wasting of water).
  • Thaw shrimp directly in water
    This is my favorite method and by far the fastest. Take the shrimp out of the bag, put in a colander or mesh strainer, keep them moving (not rapidly, slowly shifting around works, but movement is key) and under a steady stream of water. It takes about 6-8 minutes to get them fairly thawed out, so just stick with it.Alternatively, you can do a hybrid of this and the above ‘in the bag’ method, as they will both have similar results. The keys to remember are: Keep moving (to keep the thaw even), cold water, and pay attention.

In summary…

A few thoughts on general shrimp-ery to close with:

  1. Unless you really can get fresh shrimp, BUY FROZEN. It’s worth it on so many levels. (Have you ever gotten rotten shrimp? It’s not a pleasant experience, and can be avoided by going frozen.)
  2. Shrimp are delicious. Ok, relative, sure. But if you’ve read this far I’m assuming you actually like shrimp. They are way, way up there in my favorite foods department. Simple, elegant, flavorful and absorbent of whatever flavors you choose to work with, they are a great vehicle of sea-protein.
  3. I didn’t expand on this particular point too much, but I do think it’s worth mentioning a couple of points of advice when it comes to buying shrimp; Check the labels for country of origin and whether it’s been farmed or wild-caught.For the most part, farmed shrimp from Asia should be avoided… typically these shrimp fisheries are very damaging to their surrounding environments (especially mangrove forests, a crucial component of seaside ecosystems), and are generally not a great product as they haven’t been produced in regulated environments (not all regulation is bad). Farmed shrimp from North America are typically  regulated and produced in a sustainable method. Opt for these if possible, even if they are a bit more expensive. Don’t you want to have the best food possible?As far as wild shrimp goes… well… these shrimp are usually caught with trawlers, that can tear up the ocean floor and produce a lot of by-catch… However, pink spot prawns/shrimps from Oregon are wild caught and have excellent ratings as far as quality and sustainability.More great info on shrimp sustainability: Seafood Watch – Shrimp
  4. Bottom line, go get some shrimp and chow down – they are delicious!

Happy eating :)

Will

In Defense of Beef Tongue

beef tongue namu gajiProbably a rather dramatic title for a blog post… but in truth, I feel like beef tongue is one of the better cuts of beef out there that doesn’t get the respect it deserves… but it’s making a comeback (in this country). A few years ago it sat, idly, on many a Mexican taco fillings list, whilst most Americans seemed to opt for carnitas or bisteca, unaware the juicy hunks of beef tongue goodness that could have been…

Let’s break it down-

Beef tongue? Really?

Yes, really. I think beef tongue is one of the best cuts of beef you can get. Why do I say this? Well it’s got great consistency of texture, lots of flavor, no gristle, and relatively easy to prepare. Having a large amount of fat, it also happens to taste amazing (fat IS flavor, right?)!

Ok, ok, in truth – beef tongue is a muscle, but is also essentially fat… 75% of its calories are derived from fat and has a fair amount of saturated fat (which should be generally avoided to some degree). However, beef tongue (at least in the US) isn’t exactly an everyday food, right?

On the upside, it’s also very high in protein, iron, and vitamin b-12, making it not a totally unhealthy choice as it does have some benefits…

Beef Tongue Preparation

As I mentioned previously, it’s not really that hard to prepare beef tongue – A common method involves boiling the tongue, pulling it out and peeling off the skin (and tastebuds, not exactly the most appetizing part of beef tongue for the squeamish). I’ve heard a rule of thumb (tongue?) is about 50 min per pound of boiling/simmering time for tongue. Once the tongue is boiled, it is ready for whatever is next: Eating, grilling, frying, etc.

I’ve had a few different variations of beef tongue, stemming from different regions of the globe: Grilled and chopped in tacos, skewered yakitori-style, seven-day marinated and grilled (Korean style, see image above), paté, and even cold cuts as  is common in Latin America and Russia.

Beef Tongue Recipes

A few selections of recipes are below – Give them a try and let me know how they come out!

In Summary

Aside from it’s deliciousness, I think it’s almost important to recognize the value in using, as a friend recently put it, “the whole tatonka.”  Many of the animals we eat have portions that are seriously undervalued and discarded in this country, when we could instead be making amazing meals from these cheaper, more ‘taboo’ parts of the animal.

If we’re going to kill and eat these animals, why not make the most of their sacrifice and use every bit?

You never know… you might just become a beef tongue fanatic like me :)

Happy Eating-

Will

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala – The national dish of Britain, a hotly contested culinary creation, and a generally safe and delicious bet for someone looking to get into Indian (style) food.

Origin and Popularity

The UK? Punjab? There are various sources that say chicken tikka masala was created in a restaurant somewhere in the UK, while others say that it’s originally a Punjabi dish, that’s been transformed after decades of tweaking and changing it to fit a wide variety of palettes. It’s immensely popular in the UK, where it’s been *officially* named the national dish of Britain, due in part to the amount that’s sold annually, but also in part due to Britain’s celebration of cultural absorbance and integration. For more information on the British and their effect on curry and Indian food in general, Lizzie Cunningham has a fascinating book on the subject: Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors

Ingredients

Chicken tikka masala is essentially hunks of chicken (tikka) in a tomato based gravy, typically topped with coriander (cilantro) and served with naan (indian flatbread) and basmati rice. Somewhat sweet and spicy, it’s a very comforting dish which isn’t surprising given the rapid rise to fame. It’s basically soul-food.

Chicken Tikka Masala Recipes

Looking for a chicken tikka masala recipe? Good luck! There are many, all very different. I’ve hunted for the perfect recipe and seem to find no shortage of variations. I’ve tried recipes that swear Heinz ketchup is the secret ingredient, and others that say Campbells tomato soup concentrate is the core of a solid, British chicken tikka masala. Regardless, you’re looking at chicken, tomatoes, sugar, some sort of vinegar/citric (lemon) element, cream, and spices. That’s the core of any chicken tikka masala (worth eating). In addition, marination and grilling (if possible) of the chicken, thus why chicken tikka is in the name, is also an essential part of making this dish delicious and extra flavorful.

I am presently working on my own recipe for chicken tikka masala, one that reflects what I think makes a ‘good’ chicken tikka masala at home (and will post it at a later date), but for now I’ve posted a few that I think are solid bets for a great chicken tikka masala:

Sanjeev Kapoor:

Vahchef:

Expat:

 

I hope you enjoy making this dish at home – While I can understand why someone would only go out for this dish, I would push you to try and experiment with making chicken tikka masala at home… it’s rewarding and delicious! Please tell me in the comments how it went for you :)

Happy Eating-

Will

Asafoetida – What it is, where it comes from, how to use it and store it.

lg_hingOriginally this spice was a big question mark whenever I would peruse Indian cookbooks. Sometimes referred to as hing, it’s quietly and casually mentioned in various recipes and instructional videos but with no supporting information other than a hard to pronounce name: ‘asafoetida’ (asa-fah-ti-dah). (or a quickly missable Hindi name: ‘hing.’)

Introduction to Asafoetida

The first time I saw this strange spice mentioned it was in Madhur Jaffrey’s cookbook, ‘Indian Cooking,’ and part of her red lentil soup. This soup has since become one of my favorite go-to Indian appetizers and cold-day dishes… It’s fantastically good. When I first made this sublime soup I didn’t have any asafoetida, so I really didn’t know what I was missing… a bit later, I remade this dish and realized just how powerful (and wonderful) this spice is.

The flavor of Asafoetida once heated or sauteed, is akin to a very smooth onion, leek, or garlic flavor… Not incredibly strong but very flavor enhancing, which is surprising given the strength of the odor it exudes in its ‘raw’ form. Part of the reason for it’s prevalence in Indian food is due to the fact that people observing a yoga-centric lifestyle abstain from eating onions, leeks, and garlic, which asafoetida simulates rather nicely.

What is Asafoetida and where does it come from?

Now the question you probably have is; what is it? Well, the short answer is that it’s powdered resin from a plant that resembles a giant fennel, and is within the same family. Native to Iran and also heavily cultivated in India it appeared in Europe thanks to Alexander the Great who found it similar to a famed, delicious, and extinct North African plant known as the silphium. Silphium was considered legend in ancient kitchens and in the gastronomy of ancient Rome, though asafoetida was found to be not quite as delicious, and fare bit stinkier, than it’s heralded predecessor silphium. It did make a solid substitute and was popular with physicians who thought it beneficial to digestion, and continues to be an important ingredient to this day.

Asafoetida also goes by many names, including but not limited to: Food of the gods, Giant fennel, Devil’s dung / sweat, and Hing - Not the most flattering of nicknames, but the smell of asafoetida isn’t why you want to use it–It’s all about the taste.

How to use Asafoetida

The powdered resin can be eaten cooked or raw (e.g., in a salad), but is most often sauteed or tempered in oil, also often added to a flour mixture awaiting a deep fry. In the case of the lentil soup mentioned above it’s tempered in oil with cumin seeds as a final flavoring for the soup added at the very end. It gives off a wonderful smell when heated and even a better taste when used correctly. I’ve used this in korma recipes and found the end result to simply have a higher amount of umami, or tastiness, than without. It typically serves to be an excellent background spice to other more bold flavors (cumin, clove, coriander, cardomom).

How to store Asafoetida

Carefully! That’s all I can really say… If left unchecked the smell WILL take over the space it’s within. Once you know what it smells like, go into an Indian market and see if you can pick it out… I bet you can.

I’ve known of people who bury it outside because of how intense the smell can be. It’s actually impressive how pungent this oder can be and in my case, I keep it wrapped in three plastic bags and locked inside an airtight tupperware. Even with this level of precaution, the container I store the tupperware in now smells of asafoetida, but seems to keep it relatively contained.

I may be one of the weird ones, but personally I love the smell of asafoetida as it reminds me a concentrated aroma of onions cooking in butter or olive oil, and is always a reminder that delicious food is on the way. I suppose like coriander some people may have a physical aversion to it, but I think once you’ve tried it you’ll never want to go without it again and will find yourself craving it.

Where to buy Asafoetida?

Indian markets, some middle eastern markets, and Amazon.com. I’m sure there are other numerous spice markets online that would have it, but you can’t really go wrong with your local Indian market or Amazon.com. The brand I have is L. G, which seems to be one of the most common.

Summary

I hope you’ve now realized what a wonderfully strange, exotic spice asafoetida is. Go out, get some, make one of the recipes below and then tell me in the comments how it went. I’d love to hear about it!

- Will

 

Recipes:

Gastronomy of Will is back in action!

It’s been a while, but GastronomyofWill.com is back in action – A few job, life, and location changes later–here I am. Gastronomy of Will is now to serve as a supplementary read to my primary focus – GastronomyTV.com. GastronomyTV is still under wraps, but more detail is to come.

Check back often as I will be posting updates, recipes, books, you name it – Gastronomy of Will hopes to be your go to source for all things food.

Happy eating :)

Will