Grains of Paradise [split from Montreal]
lots of depth...starts peppery, goes to lavender, then to heat. You can use in lieu of pepper, but I would say as a finisher rather than a cooking ingredient, and in smaller quantities. I have used it in (on) all manner of savory items (soups, casseroles, chicken, fish) and also in a very dense brownie-- I use sea salt and grains of paradise in that recipe.
Fairway market in NYC sells them in a grinder for a very reasonable price ( I think it was under $5), so I always have some on hand.
My intro to them was Amanda Hesser's interesting and informative NYT article, "What Peppercorns Only Dream of Being," published on May 3, 2000. www.nytimes.com/2000/05/03/dining/wha...
Some of the uses mentioned therein:
- Spice blends: "mixed with coriander, cinnamon, dried chilies and cloves as a condiment for grilled lamb, chicken, fish, pumpkin and okra, or added to soups, stews and pickling mixtures. They also turns up in raz al hanout, the spice mixture of Morocco."
- Used to flavour beers (e.g. Ommegang, Blanche de Bruges, Sam Adams Summer Ale) and gin (e.g. Van Gogh, Bombay Sapphire).
- "Oyebolanle Grant, the chef [at Staten Island's Mama Zee restaurant] ... uses the grains in a dish called suya, mixed with peanut butter, dried red pepper, salt and a bouillon cube, then spread on beef, sliced as thin as bacon. The beef is strung on skewers, then grilled and served with more of the rub. She also adds grains of paradise to a custard with ginger, a traditional Nigerian breakfast dish, which takes four days to make."
- "Jean-Georges Vongerichten ... crusts halibut with the crushed grains, adds them to mignonette sauce for oysters and stirs them into tomato juice with balsamic vinegar and lime juice to make a startlingly peppy bloody Mary."
- John Ash uses them to flavour tomato water, herbal syrups and crème anglaise. He also makes a rosemary syrup with the grains, chopped ginger, white wine and balsamic vinegar that's great drizzled on mango and other tropical fruits.
Recipes for the bloody Mary, halibut and rosemary syrup accompany the article.