Épices Andalouses at the Deli

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

A classic spice blend of Andalucía to add to soups, salads, and sauces

If you’re looking for a way to take almost any dish to a new and more interesting level this winter, check out this superb spice blend from our Spicetrekker friends in Montreal. Paprika and all sorts of other wonderful additions make this traditional southern Spanish blend into something really special. When we first brought it in many years ago, Épices de Cru’s co-founder Philippe de Vienne told me,

The inspiration for this blend comes from the meat skewers that are so common in Spain. Meat, usually pork or chicken, is cubed and marinated with spices, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt, and olive oil for as long as time and patience allow—12 to 24 hours being ideal. In Spain, every tapas bar and grandmother has a “secret recipe.” Our version is inspired from this tradition. It is assembled from Malabar black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin, fennel seeds, oregano, bay leaf, Spanish garlic, our exclusive smoked pimenton 210, and half a gram of top-grade Afghani saffron goes into every can.

This last ingredient is no small thing—the saffron adds a lot to the aroma and the flavor. Additionally, working with the Afghani growers to find a livelihood in agriculture contributes positively to the quality of life in that country. I like it, too, because it brings together cumin and paprika, two of my favorite spices. Add in the aroma and complex flavor of the saffron, and I’m totally sold.

Like all the Épices de Cru blends, this one is made by mixing whole spices—when you open the tin, you’re assured of being impressed by the aromas and the look of what’s included. Grinding whole spices like this will take no more time (less, actually) than it does to grind coffee beans. All you’ll need is a simple mortar and pestle and about 60 seconds of elbow work to grind them to order. In the process, you’ll release the aromatics in the spices and maximize the flavors about tenfold. I love the Épices Andalouses on swordfish or scallops, and it’s great for marinating olives, too. I’ve added it to rice dishes—sauté some Spanish Bomba rice in olive oil until golden, add some of the ground Épices Andalouses, a bit of sea salt, and then broth or water and simmer until the rice is almost tender (al dente). Very good in bean soups, or on eggs fried in extra virgin olive oil!