After I published my Tonka Bean Roast Chicken recipe, my friend Klee, said he wanted to try it and had to find Tonka beans in Melbourne. I asked the queen of Melbourne shopping, my friend Caro, and she told us that not far from where she lives there is an extraordinary spice shop.
I looked it up and realised I had tried to place an order online once and for technical reasons I didn’t finish it. I love this website and the incredible choice that they offer! It is simple straight forward and it makes you want to order a thousand little glass jars…
This time again I had problems on the checkout page, I couldn’t figure out how to pay!! There is no real button to click, it’s a link somewhere at the bottom. I remembered why I gave up last time. Well… if you find yourself in the same position, look down, there is a link somewhere that you need to click and you can pay.
Anyway, this time it worked and extremely quickly, I received a well packaged parcel. It was all very exciting.
So this is my “market finds” review of spices from Gewürzhaus Melbourne.
Each jar was wrapped in a beautiful silk paper and carefully placed in a foamy sock.
The labels were very pretty, white with a gorgeous golden calligraphy. Each spice jar, except the peppercorn ones were small (between 20 and 56g of product) and dark. Light does harm spices. I might have to paint all my “Bonne Maman” jam jars where I store my spice collection…
These candle nuts come from Indonesia. They look like irregular macadamia. Gewürzhaus says that “they contain so much oil that you can stick the midrib of a palm leaf through their centre and light them up, just like a candle. They warn you: candle nuts are toxic when raw. These nuts are always dry roasted before used in Malaysian curries and satays for thickening. The best way to use them is to cut them into slivers, then roast and toss through a light Asian salad. They add a pleasing nutty texture and taste.”
I have never tried these marvels but intend to cook them in one of my Indian recipes.
WARNING: DO NOT CONSUME UNCOOKED.
These white peppercorns come from India. Coming from the same pepper vine as black and green peppercorns, white pepper is picked when the fruit is nearing maturity, then soaked in a clear, running water for up to two weeks. The outer ‘pericap’ is removed, leaving the white core. While white pepper has more heat than black, it has less resin in its aroma and taste. Gewürzhaus advises you to use it for sauces, charcuterie, soups and casseroles.
This is one of my favourite spices. I use it especially in Asian food. I make BBQ prawn with sesame oil, coriander (cilandro), chilli, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime and tons of white pepper. Thai beef salad cannot be complete without it. It is very strong, very spicy and delicious.
These tonka beans are packaged in a tiny paper bag. They are extraordinarily fragrant, opening the bag is a special moment.
Tonka beans are native to South America, this selection comes from Brazil. This spice is banned in the USA. Gewürzhaus tells us that this precious bean is a foodie’s dream ingredient. Hard to find, lethal in large doses & enticingly delicious, it’s almondy sweetness is reminiscent of marzipan, yet also vanilla-like. They advise us to grate just a quarter of a bean into desserts such as pannacotta, blushing peaches, custard or ice-cream. WARNING: DO NOT CONSUME IN LARGE OR UNCOOKED DOSES.
Check out my tonka bean roast chicken recipe. I will use these beans to make tonka crème brûlée, ice-cream, crème pâtissière and custard. I might even try some tonka “langues de chat”, simple French traditional biscuits called cat’s tongue, usually flavoured with vanilla.
St Nicholas Spekulaas are a spice mix which we call in France speculoos. Gewürzhaus explains: “traditionally baked in the Netherlands and neighbouring countries for St Nicholas’ Day, the 6th December, the delicious shortcrust biscuits made with Spekulaas spice are loved for their warming taste and aroma. Make the dough the night before to give the spices a chance to permeate thoroughly.” This mix comes from the Netherlands.
I bought this to make ice-cream and crème pâtissière to fill some Christmas choux (profiteroles / cream puffs).
Schinus terebinthifolius or pink peppercorn is a very fragrant spice often found in pepper medleys and salt mixes. These berries were grown in India. This is what Gewürzhaus tells us: “think back to that pepper tree in your school yard: this little berry is from a very close relative, yet is not the true pepper we generally consume alongside its companion, salt. Pink ‘Schinus’ pepper carries less heat, yet more camphorus and sweet characteristics than normal pepper. It is used widely in Mediterranean fish dishes, and matches well with game meats – much like juniper berries.”
I use them in sauces, risottos and stews. I also grind them in my mash or salad. I have a juniper berry chicken stew recipe which I might turn into a pink peppercorn recipe. I found the juniper quite bitter.
Mace blade or Myristica fragrans, in this case grown in Malaysia, come from the only tropical fruit that bears two spices. Gewürzhaus explains: “mace is the inner layer surrounding the well-known nutmeg. Although it smells like nutmeg, the taste of mace is more complementary to fish and vegetable dishes than sweet, baked goods. Add to slow cooked meat dishes such as stews and casseroles as well as soup stocks.”
The smell is very powerful. I have a few recipes containing mace which I have never tried because I couldn’t find any. They are Indian recipes. I will definitely try one of them very soon.
I first had Hibiscus flowers in Egypt, in a cold drink called karkade. Then I became addicted to its fruity and sour taste in hot herbal teas which were all the rage in France last summer. Gewürzhaus notes: “traditionally used in herbal teas, Hibiscus helps clear up symptoms of colds and fever, helps digestion and promotes proper kidney function. In cookery, Hibiscus imparts a wonderful sweetness to cakes and baked goods. Its somewhat tangy aftertaste is reminiscent of rosehip. We add it to our GIühwein and Apple Cake spices. Try it in pannacotta, puddings or ice cream”. These flowers were picked in Egypt.
Having tried it as a drink, hot and cold, my next step is to us it in a pretty dessert.
Indian brown cardamom or Cardamomum amomum is a big pod which smells like BBQ sauce! The Gewürzhaus team tells us: “not to be confused with green cardamom, brown cardamom pods are dark brown & oval shaped, about 2.5cm long. They give a delicious smokey taste to marinades and tandoori curries. Also commonly known as black cardamom, they have a distinctly astringent aroma, though not bitter, with a coolness similar to mint.” These pods come from India.
I have a few impressive recipes (at least on paper) which have this pod in my book “India” and a few other spicy cookbooks.
Beetroot powder or Beta vulgaris is a dream food dye for colour addicts like me! Gewürzhaus explains: “when you open a jar of Beetroot powder, the first thing that hits you is its rich purple colour; hence, this spice is used predominantly as a natural colorant in Indian cuisine. It colours tandoori as well as seafood dishes. It also gives an earthy background sweetness to risotto, pasta and sauces.” This powder comes from Germany.
I cannot wait to try it in a dessert, a risotto or a soup. Imagine purple cauliflower soup :)
Gewürzhaus is one of the rare Australian providers for this exceptional spice. This is what they tell us about it: “native to Turkey, Aleppo Peppers are highly desirable for their fresh, fruity flavour and mild heat that builds slowly on the palate. Used commonly in Turkish and Middle Eastern recipes as featured in Yotam Ottolenghi’s tomes. A great substitute for crushed red pepper or paprika”.
I want to replace my paprika use by Aleppo pepper for a while and see how it goes. I will start with simple sunny sides up.
A big thank you to Klee who made me look for spices and to Caro for giving me this great suggestion.
PLEASE NOTE that two of these spices are toxic if ingested raw (uncooked) and/or in large quantity: candle nuts and tonka beans.
This post in not sponsored.
You can find Gewürzhaus online, in Melbourne (markets and stores) and Sydney (The Strand Arcade) check out their addresses and opening hours HERE.