Updated: Jun 19
Welcome to the next installment of my Meet the Spice Blend series, where I'm sharing the inspiration for, back stories of, and uses for my ever-expanding collection of small batch, handcrafted spice blends. Next up, let's meet Cashew Chile Crunch!!
The Inspiration - Chile Crisp
If you follow food trends at all, you'll recall a time not so long ago when Chile Crisp, that famous condiment of oil infused with dried chiles and other crispy, crunchy bits of ingredients like garlic and shallot, was suddenly EVERYWHERE. And although I do have a jar of chile crisp in my fridge at home, I wanted a way to get the flavor of a good chile crisp without the oil. And there, my friends, is the inspiration for my Cashew Chile Crunch (formerly known as Far East Spice Blend), a blend of garlic, shallot, cashews, ginger, kosher salt, sichuan peppercorn, arbol chile, California chile, guajillo chile, New Mexico chile, Pasilla chile, wild mushrooms, cumin, black pepper, star anise, and cardamom.
The Flavor Profile - Cashew Chile Crunch
Cashew Chile Crunch offers a rich and complex flavor profile. The blend starts with a robust base of garlic and shallot, which provide a pungent and slightly sweet undertone. The cashews contribute a nutty creaminess, while the ginger adds a zingy and refreshing note. The combination of kosher salt and Sichuan peppercorn lends a savory and numbing sensation, while the arbol chile, California chile, guajillo chile, New Mexico chile, and Pasilla chile infuse varying levels of heat and smokiness. The inclusion of wild mushrooms brings an earthy and umami flavor. Cumin and black pepper add warmth and depth, and the star anise and cardamom provide a subtle hint of sweetness and aromatic complexity. Together, these ingredients create a harmonious blend that is both flavorful and enticing.
Versatility in the Kitchen - How to Use Cashew Chile Crunch
Cashew Chile Crunch can be used in various ways to enhance the taste of your dishes. Here are some suggestions:
Seasoning for meats: Rub some Cashew Chile Crunch onto chicken, beef, pork, or lamb before grilling, roasting, or sautéing. It will add a burst of flavor to the meat.
Stir-fries and sautés: Sprinkle Cashew Chile Crunch into vegetable stir-fries or sautés to elevate the taste. It pairs well with mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and other vegetables.
Marinades and dressings: Mix Cashew Chile Crunch with oil, vinegar, and other seasonings to create a delicious marinade for meats, or whisk it into dressings for salads or roasted vegetables.
Soups and stews: Add Cashew Chile Crunch to soups, stews, or chili to deepen the flavor profile. It works particularly well with bean-based or tomato-based dishes.
Roasted vegetables: Toss your favorite vegetables with olive oil and Cashew Chile Crunch, then roast them in the oven for a tasty side dish. It complements root vegetables, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and more.
Grain dishes: Sprinkle Cashew Chile Crunch into rice, quinoa, couscous, or other grain dishes to infuse them with a savory and aromatic twist.
Dips and spreads: Mix Cashew Chile Crunch into yogurt, sour cream, or cream cheese to create a flavorful dip or spread for chips, crackers, fresh vegetables, or sandwiches.
Dessert: Sprinkle some Cashew Chile Crunch on a bit of melted dark chocolate along with some roasted cashews. Freeze until solid and then break into pieces for a sweet and spicy treat that is great on its own or as a topping for vanilla ice cream.
A Bite of Good Recipes that use Cashew Chile Crunch
Looking for some more concrete guidance on how to use Cashew Chile Crunch? Check out these A Bite of Good recipes!
Weeknight Rice Noodle Salad Bowls with Grilled Chicken - Packed with fresh veggies and lean protein, this weeknight winner will leave you feeling satisfied without being overly stuffed.
Spicy Cashew Chile Chicken Burgers - Break free from the monotony and introduce a spicy twist to your burger routine with these Spicy Cashew Chile Chicken Burgers.
Asian Chicken Noodles with Kale - Because you can never have too many quick, easy, weeknight noodle recipes.
Ready to get your own Cashew Chile Crunch? Get it here.