5 Chef-Recommended Herbs and Spices You Should Be Cooking With

Written by: Lifestyle Network/Monday, Oct 02, 2017 06:28 AM

That's not just random leaf in your Chipotle bowl!

We asked top Pinoy chef Jam Melchor about spices, particularly his favorite spices that are native to the Philippines (but are available in other countries too). Here are some of his top picks, and you may or may not have heard about all of them! Next time you come across these spices and herbs, be sure to give them a try.

1. Laurel / Bay Leaf


Some Chipotle lovers may have been surprised to find actual leaves in their food, but the bay leaf is actually commonly used in Filipino cuisine to add flavor to savory dishes such as adobo and menudo, among others. Bay leaves deliver a unique flavor and fragrance to soups, curries, meats, seafood, and vegetable dishes.


2. Batwan


Related to the mangosteen fruit, batwan is a sour, green fruit commonly used in the Philippine Visayan region as a souring agent for a lot of dishes. Batwan works well in place of tamarind, tomato, guava, or sampaloc in sour dishes such as sinigang (hot sour soup) and paksiw (fish stewed in vinegar or sour fruit). You can also preserve this into a jam or puree to add to oatmeal, bread, or smoothies.


Abundant in Northern Mindanao, tabon tabon is a tropical fruit that is usually used in kinilaw (think of it as Filipino sushi). Apparently, the fruit's astringent, sweet-sour taste complements fish really well. It also has antibacterial properties that ensures you won't get indigestion from eating very fresh fish, if you're a little sensitive to that.


4. Kalingag



The bark of the kalingag tree has a thick, aromatic bark that has a strong sarsaparilla flavor. The tree is native to the Philippines and is related to culinary cinnamon--it is used in Chinese-style meat dishes and as flavoring for liquor and syrups. Apparently, you can also just chew on the bark or use it for tea! Ritual PH carries a wide selection of herbs and spices you might want to look at.


5. Kasubha (Safflower)



Kasubha is a great alternative to synthetic food colors, and is added to Pinoy food such as atsara and chicken arroz caldo to give that nice yellowish tint. As an oil, kasubha or safflower also has a lot of health benefits such as aiding in weight loss, giving clearer skin, and helping prevent diabetes and heart conditions.


What are your favorite spices? Let us know in the comments below!


About Lifestyle Network
Lifestyle Network is every woman’s guide to living a life inspired by her dreams and her passions. Its entertainment choices span the multi-dimensional interests of the modern woman.
Bartending 101: Mix It Up at Home
Want to be your own bartender? Try these quick and easy cocktail/mocktail recipes

Maharlika's Filipino Pride Chicken and Ube Waffles
Nicole and Chef Miguel show us how to make chicken and waffles even more awesome!

Feast on this: Piolo x Japan
Join Piolo Pascual as he scours Osaka for the best Ramen and Okonomiyaki!

Chef Yana Gilbuena's Halo-Halo Kitchen Sink Fried Rice
Chef Yana Gilbuena whips up an easy, delicious fried rice dish.


Recommended Articles
Beauty in Brokenness
Comfortable In Her Own Skin
Plump PH's Danah Gutierrez On Sexiness
Fitness Tips for Busy Moms

Get the Lifestyle Network Newsletter

© 2015. ABS-CBN Corporation. All Rights Reserved.