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Spice bouquets

A spice bouquet is the pallet from which national or regional cooking flavors and aromas are drawn. It defines home cooking in most areas of the world. If you think of Mexican cooking, you are drawn to the flavors of chili and cumin, cilantro and hot peppers. If you think of Indian cooking, you can taste curries, mint and coriander. That combination of spices that comes immediately to mind is the spice bouquet of the country.

The problem is, when you think of American cooking, the flavors that come to mind are salt and butter.

The shear abundance of the American harvest is working against our best dietary interests.

Other countries have developed bold bouquets and complex spices to accommodate pantries and cooking styles that are naturally lower in fat and sodium. We can look to them for techniques that improve health without sacrificing flavor.

Take a look at the sea bass recipe below, you can see how the bold spices allow us to use very little fat and salt yet allow the flavor to come sparkling through.

Create a spice bouquet for yourself and you family and use it to replace the fat and sodium in your own diet. Your family, your mouth and your heart will thank you!

Seared Mexican Sea Bass
4 each 4 to 6 ounce Sea Bass fillets
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons virgin olive oil
1 dried ancho or serrano chili, crushed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Zest from one lemon
1 tablespoon achiote (a dried spice available in the international section of most grocery stores)
1 tablespoon unsweetened chocolate
1 cup of white wine

Wash and pat dry the sea bass fillets and season with salt and pepper. Heat a large shallow skillet over med-high heat and add the olive oil.

When the olive oil starts to smoke add the fillets and cook for 2-4 minutes per side until the fish is golden and cooked through.

Remove the fillets and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium and add the white wine to the pan and scape the bottom with a wooden spoon to incorporate the drippings and browned pieces.

Add the remaining spices to the pan and stir. Allow the liquid to reduce slightly, place the fillets to the pan and return to serving temperature.

Per serving: 4g carbs; 1g fiber; 9g fat; 220 calories.

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