Smart Substitutes for Critical Ingredients
the frontiers of taste have expanded enormously over the past few years, a change that is reflected in our well-stocked markets. Yet occasionally we still may come across a recipe that calls for a hard-to-find flavoring, herb or spice. Since we believe that no cook should ever have to abandon an alluring recipe for lack of one of these ingredients, we've devised a sampling of substitutes. Here's a rule of thumb: if the ingredient is integral to the taste of the dish, hold out for the real thing; otherwise, use one of the substitutes.
* ALLSPICE 1 teaspoon = 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon + 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves + 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (for baking) or = 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (for cooking).
* ANISEED or STAR ANISE 1/4 teaspoon = 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed or = 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chervil.
* BRANDY (including Cognac, eaux-de-vie, fruit brandies) 1 tablespoon = 1 tablespoon whiskey.
* CILANTRO (also called fresh coriander or Chinese parsley) 1 tablespoon chopped fresh = 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley + 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or = 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley + 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint.
* CREME FRAICHE 1/2 cup = 1/2 cup sour cream or = 1/4 cup sour cream + 1/4 cup heavy cream. (Or to make 1 1/2 cups: stir 1 cup heavy cream with 1/2 cup buttermilk, sour cream or plain yogurt in a glass container. Let sit in a warm place for six hours; then stir and refrigerate.
* FISH SAUCE 1 tablespoon = 1 tablespoon soy sauce blended with 4 mashed anchovies.
* GALANGAL (also called laos) 1 teaspoon = 1/4 teaspoon cardamom + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.
* GINGER 1 tablespoon grated fresh = 1 teaspoon powdered ginger + 1/4 teaspoon white pepper + 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice or = 1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger with the sugar washed off.
* JUNIPER BERRIES 6 to 10 crushed = 1/4 cup gin, boiled for 1 to 2 minutes or = 2 bay leaves + 1 teaspoon caraway seeds + 1 chopped mint leaf.
* LEMONGRASS or VERBENA 1 teaspoon minced fresh = 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest.
* LOVAGE 1 tablespoon chopped fresh = 1 tablespoon chopped fresh celery leaves + a pinch of curry powder or ground pepper.
* MADEIRA or MARSALA 1 tablespoon = 1 tablespoon sherry or port.
* MIRIN (Japanese sweet rice wine), 1 tablespoon = 1 tablespoon sweet sherry or sweet vermouth.
* MOLASSES 1 cup (for baking) = 1/4 cup brown or white sugar + 1/4 cup more liquid used in recipe or = 1 cup dark corn syrup.
* PANCETTA 2 ounces (for cooked dishes only) = 2 ounces lean bacon.
* PINE NUTS 1 cup = 1 cup blanched slivered almonds or chopped walnuts.
* PROSCIUTTO 2 ounces = 2 ounces country ham.
* SAKE (rice wine) 1 tablespoon = 1 tablespoon dry sherry or vermouth.
* TAHINI 1 tablespoon = 1 tablespoon ground sesame seeds or =
1 tablespoon unsalted sunflower seeds or blanched almonds ground with 1 teaspoon vegetable oil.
* TAMARIND and TAMARIND PASTE 1 tablespoon = 1 teaspoon chopped dates + 2 teaspoons chopped dried apricots + 1 teaspoon lemon juice or = 1 tablespoon chopped pitted prunes + 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
* VINEGAR (Champagne, malt or rice) 1 tablespoon = 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
* VINEGAR (sherry) 1 tablespoon = 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar.
* WASABI 1 teaspoon powdered = 1 teaspoon hot dry mustard. One teaspoon prepared = 1 teaspoon hot dry mustard + 1/2 teaspoon vinegar + 1/4 teaspoon oil +1/8 teaspoon salt. m
* BECKY SUE EPSTEIN and HILARY DOLE KLEIN are food writers and authors of Substituting Ingredients: An A to Z Kitchen Reference (Globe Pequot).
--becky sue epstein
hilary dole klein