You say you like spicy food. But when was the last time you cooked with, say, sumac? Or Urfa pepper? The fact is, there’s a whole universe of flavor that even hardcore home cooks seldom deploy. Lior Lev Sercarz, owner of the New York City spice shop La Boîte and spice consigliere to superstar chefs including Eric Ripert, aims to change that. His new cookbook, Mastering Spice, is packed with recipes for old classics elevated with unexpected spice tones. Take these braised short ribs.
Sercarz seasons the short ribs with sweet cocoa; tangy, lemony sumac; and the aforementioned Urfa—a smoky-hot Turkish chili with undertones of dried fruit.
Give them a try. And don’t stop there. “Once you find a spice you like, add it to the meals you make regularly,” Sercarz says. “Spices make everything better.”
Here are some of our favorite recipes that utilize unique spices:
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Nutritional information (per serving)
- citrus-braised short ribs with star anise and cocoa
Makes Serves 8–12 servings
- 4 1⁄2 pounds bone-in short ribs, cut into 2- by 4-inch pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Canola oil
- 1 1⁄4 tsp caraway seeds
- 3 whole star anise
- 1 tbsp plus 1⁄4 tsp sumac
- 2 tsp Urfa pepper
- 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 oranges, cut into 1 1⁄2-inch wedges
- 2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 3 medium carrots, cut on the bias in 1-inch chunks
- 6 medium garlic cloves
- 2 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
How to make it