DO YOU KNOW ANNATTO?
Cheeky earth-red seeds ripen
Bird-beaked in form, colour dangerous.
Why discover you now?
With so much prickly pain outside this primal pod.
Are you ready to share your secrets?
This Summer I became obsessed with Annatto seeds as I recalled a certain soup. Late Summer corn. Recipe by my best friend Myra Kornfeld in her first cookbook, “The Voluptuous Vegan”
It was sooooo VOLUPTUOUS.
Roasted corn with a sexy sofrito infused with the hue of this prehistoric-looking spice.
I made it again and again, the colours, flavours, and scent memories of friends gathered.
After I moved from New York and then Seattle, those feasts with best friends over the border became like rubies, precious and rare. Until one trip to the spice market where I rediscovered this jewel. Oh the happiness. Infusing oils, sauces, soups and ecstatic spice blends. I cannot even tell you how these beauties will make you feel.
When I step into my kitchen knowing they are there, I feel like a traveller, never lonely, free to go off on some adventure or another deep into my world of colours, aromas, and wild imaginings.
While playing with my new spice friends in a whole new way I created this tangy spice masala and I’m using it like crazy on my Late Summer corn on the cob with plenty ghee. Definitely a blend for adding to veggies like cauliflower and potatoes, as well as to various types of white fish. Its citrusy, slightly sweet and a little bit of spicy.
ANNATTO LEMON ZEST RUB
2 TBSP Annatto seeds
Zest of 2 medium lemons
3 TBSP Coriander seeds
1 TBSP Whole Black pepper
1 tsp salt
Toast the coriander and black pepper and grind to a rough consistency. Grind the annatto seeds until roughly powdered. Zest lemon skins. Add salt and meld all together.
Use as an aromatic rub directly on corn, tofu, poultry, fish, root veggies.I hope you enjoy making this rub, so easy and fresh and a really really great way to enjoy the Summers corn bounty!
NOTE: Annatto lends a deep crimson colour to dishes either as an infused oil, rub or marinade traditionally for meat and fish but is definitely a gorgeous rub. The seed’s rich pigment infuses oils and vinegars with its golden-red hue imparting not only colour but a subtle citrus flavour to foods. Kitchens around the world use annatto to add its yellow-red colour to foods. The peppery, citrusy and earthy flavour of annatto, best ground raw or infused whole into oils, enhances and pairs well with most spices especially coriander, lemon/orange zest, black pepper, cumin, ginger, and cocoa.
As an Ayurvedic spice benefit, annatto assists liver and kidney function and strengthens bone tissue.
MYTH, MAGIC, & SACRED MEDICINE
I love that this stunningly vibrant seed was originally used as a ceremonial pigment and that nearly all Mayan scriptures were written in its red-staining ink. The Mayans and Aztecs considered this juice sacred and revered it as a symbol for blood in their rituals. These early civilizations went on to use annatto in foods ranging from spicy stews to powerful ritual chocolate drinks. Due to its rich hue, annatto was also valued as a pigment for war paint and is still used for colour in cosmetics (mostly lipstick), food and fabric dye.
Known as an aphrodisiac for women, annatto is imbued with the fire element and provokes desire. Mmmmm I must say just cooking with this amazing spice makes me feel totally luscious. So satisfying. With all this and its many health benefits, I implore you my darlings to go find some and try it.
Love and Fragrant Blessings,
Glynnis, Your Spice Mistress xox