Spices and Flavor Profiles

Elisabeth Rozin, in her excellent book, “Ethnic Cuisine: The Flavor Principle Cookbook”, notes that different cultures tend to “combine a small number of flavoring ingredients so frequently and so consistently that they become definitive of that particular cuisine.” So I’ve included a few here from her excellent resource. This is by no means a definitive list, but merely a good primer and starting off point.

  • Central Asia: cinnamon, fruits and nuts
  • China (general): soy sauce, rice wine and ginger
    • Mandarin/Peking (Northern China): miso, garlic and sesame
    • Szechuan (Western China): sweet, sour and hot flavors like sugar, vinegar and szechuan peppers
    • Cantonese (Southern China): black beans and garlic
  • Eastern Europe (Semitic): onion and chicken fat
  • Eastern/Northern Europe: dill, caraway, allspice and paprika-often with sour cream
  • France (general): olive oil, garlic, basil, wine, herb butter, wine or stock with cheese
    • Provence: thyme, rosemary, marjoram, sage and tomato
    • Normandy: apple, cider and Calvados
  • Greece: olive oil, tomato, lemon, cinnamon, oregano
  • India (general): curries, turmeric
    • Northern: cumin, ginger and garlic
    • Southern: mustard seed, coconut, tamarind and chiles
  • Italy (general): olive oil, garlic and basil
    • Northern: wine vinegar
    • Southern: parsley, anchovy and tomato
  • Japan: Shoyu (soy sauce), sake and sugar
  • Mexico: tomato, lime and chiles
  • North Africa: cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, onion, tomato and fruit
  • Spain: olive oil, garlic, nuts, onions, peppers and tomato
  • Thailand: fish sauce, curries and chiles
  • West Africa: peanut, chilies and tomato

Subscribe To

Chef Dr. Mike's


Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This