TECHNIQUE:

BLOOM

Blooming — the heating of spices in fat — draws out and extends the spice flavor to spread throughout a dish. Blooming is most often done at the start of the cooking process (a key difference from Tempering) because, once infused in oil, the spice flavors more easily permeate a dish as it cooks.

To bloom spices in fat, first consider which fat you’ll use: coconut oil, ghee,olive oil, peanut oil, butter, lard, or a neutral oil like refined vegetable oil will all showcase the flavor and aroma of the spices a little differently. Is the flavor of the fat itself essential to the cuisine or dish that you’re cooking? Should it complement specific spices or other ingredients? Add a generous amount of the fat to a skillet or saucepan, then add the spices. Over very low heat and stirring occasionally, cook until the fat is fragrant and the spices have softened and turned slightly darker in color. Then add other ingredients or put the flavored fat aside to use later in your cooking process.

TRY IT OUT

BASIC

In a deep pan over very low heat, bloom about1⁄2 teaspoon smoked pimentón paprika in about 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil has turned red, add spinach and salt and saute until the spinach is just cooked.

ADVANCED

Gently heat olive oil in a deep pan with wild mountain cumin, smoked pimentón paprika, and silk chili until fragrant. Add a chopped onion, minced garlic, and a can of crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, then crack a few eggs into the sauce. Cover and simmer until the eggs are set. Garnish with fresh herbs and eat with crusty bread.

Why it works: Bloomed spices create a robust base for tomato sauce dishes like shakshuka or ratatouille that support other intensely flavorful ingredients.