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Mar 29, 2007 03:38 PM

Grains of Paradise? Help me please!

Hey everybody --
I was recently browsing at my local spice store and came across a package of "grains of paradise." I was so charmed by the name, and by what little I knew of the spice's medieval history, that I bought some to take home. Problem is, I now have no idea how to use it. I know I can use it like pepper for veggies, but does anyone have a more ambitious recipe that might show the spice off to good advantage? I'd love some suggestions. Thanks!

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  1. AKA bastard cardomom, sorta suggests use like cardomom. Is used in some Belgian beers, so in a sauce made with such would probably work ok.

    1. I made a steak au "poive" with them, it was great and really showed it off.

      1. I've used it as pepper in cacio e pepe recipes and have also ground it over tarts made with lime curd and chopped mango. It really is very versatile and is fantastic toasted. Its citrusy complexity should go well in fried chicken and fish batters too, though I haven't tried that.

        1. Paraphrasing Amanda Hesser:

          Pan-roasted pieces of cod: When they came out of the oven, crisp on the edges and opaque in the center, I squeezed on a few drops of lemon juice, sprinkled on a little olive oil and then let flecks of grains of paradise, crushed in a mortar and pestle, speckle the fish. Cod, which is buttery and sweet, was a perfect fit for the oily fragrance of the grains, and they did not seem unnecessarily aggressive, as ordinary pepper can.

          Chicken: rub skin with a mixture of grains of paradise, crushed coriander and lemon zest

          Fresh tuna: press grains into flesh, then sear in shallow iron pan. Let cool and combine lay it on salad greens with green beans and hard-cooked eggs, a loose interpretation of salade Niçoise.

          Fresh goat cheese – rolled in crushed grains, flecked with thyme and drizzled with good olive oil. Needs good loaf of bread.

          Sauteed chicken livers: showered with grains ground in a pepper mill as they finish cooking in the pan

          Anything that can use their flavor -- reminiscent of sweet spices like nutmeg, coriander and cinnamon. Even custard and some desserts.

          Experiment wildly.

          3 Replies
          1. re: maria lorraine

            I would agree to the experient wildly, but it sure ain't a sweet spice! It has a decidedly pepper taste and hit, with strong sweet spice undertones. But think peppercorn first!

            1. re: Quine

              I read that one of the classic uses is in custard -- as a slight savory kick in an otherwise sweet dessert. That tactic is rather common throughout the world, actually. I haven't tried
              it myself though, darn it, so I don't know if it works. More info on Google.

              1. re: maria lorraine

                I have been cooking with it, since last year when I found it in a spice me....Think Peppercorn first!