Spice 101: Five Homemade Spice Blends You Need to Try

spice rubs

It can be easy to fall into a routine when cooking. Once you find a favorite dish or a favorite flavor combination, it can be tempting to just stick with it. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…right? Well, that’s where we disagree. Experimenting with new ways of flavoring your fish can open up so many tasty doors, and the good news is, it’s not hard at all to do. The secret? Turn to spice blends to add some zing to your dinners!

Homemade blends not only add flavor and variety to your meals, but they also provide a healthier alternative to pre-made blends, as you can control what goes into your food. With mild white fish like Tilapia, marinating fillets overnight in one of these blends can really spice up dinner time.

Dill and Lemon Seasoning

Dill and Lemon Seasoning

Dill has a fresh, grassy taste that excels at bringing out the delicate flavor of white fish, so rubbing this blend on a fresh Tilapia fillet before adding breadcrumbs really adds some zip. Serve Scandinavian-style with parsley potatoes, steamed asparagus and lemon wedges, which provide a light and refreshing contrast to the bold taste of dill.

Combine:

  • 3 tbsp lemon pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp dill
  • 1 tsp chives
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Herbes de Provence Blend

Herbes de Provence Blend

This blend combines the romantic tastes and aromas of southern France into one fragrant blend, and complements delicate, flaky fish like Tilapia due to its aromatic floral notes. To use this mix, rub a fillet with olive oil before coating with Herbes de Provence. Then, when you pan-fry the fish, it creates a golden, caramelized crust that tastes of lavender fields in southern France. Serve with a side salad, roasted potatoes and fresh cracked black pepper.

Combine:

  • 3 tbsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp summer savory
  • 1 tbsp tarragon
  • 1 tbsp rosemary
  • 1 tbsp marjoram
  • 2 tbsp parsley
  • 1 tbsp mint
  • 1 tsp chervil
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp lavender

Garam Masala Rub

Garam Masala Rub

Garam masala is a blend used commonly in Indian cuisine. The warm, complex flavors bloom beautifully on a canvas such as Tilapia, which has a subtle taste that won’t compete with the blend. After rubbing your fillet with the mix, try adding oil and leaving in the fridge to marinate for 1–2 hours to intensify flavors. Serve with rice, toasted naan bread and curried vegetables.

Combine:

  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 ground bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne

Chinese Five Spice Rub

Chinese Five Spice Rub

This classic mix is said to include the five major flavor profiles: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory. Tilapia, with its great versatility, is an easy platform from which to showcase these elements. Rub this mix on a fresh fillet and marinate in soy sauce, garlic and brown sugar. To serve, sauté bok choy with rice wine and sesame oil, and present on a bed of rice. Chopped scallions and chili sauce are also great additions!

Combine:

  • 2 tbsp ground anise
  • 1 tbsp Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • 2 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves

Paprika Rub

Paprika Rub

This warm red spice has a smoky flavor and a bit of a kick! Often associated with Hungarian dishes, paprika actually originated in the New World (Mexico and North America), making it a great base for a Mexican spice blend. Use this blend on a fresh fillet by mixing this blend with lime juice to make a paste. Let the fish marinate for ten minutes before cooking, and then serve with tortillas and taco fixings, which can include sautéed onions, Pico de Gallo, avocado, cheese and hot sauce.

Combine:

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper

Life is too short for boring food! Although you may think that you only have a few options, creating your own homemade spice blends are a great trick to adding new recipes to your repertoire. Give these a go, or get creative and try mixing up your own!

Looking for other ways to flavor your fish? Try these herbs and spices

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