Ingredient 911: The Differences Between Spices, Herbs, Flours & Miso

What is nutritional yeast? Can I substitute brown miso in your recipes? What's the difference between ground and rubbed sage?

These are some of the most frequently asked questions about ingredients in HH recipes -- and I'm answering them all AND more in this post!

I hope you find this information helpful and it makes your plant-based cooking experience a little easier :)

Black Salt

Black Indian salt (also called Kala Namak and not to be confused with black lava salt, which is just sea salt that is blended with activated charcoal) is not really black, but more a dark reddish-purple color. When it is ground into powder, it is more of a pinkish color. It is a natural rock salt that is mined in South Asia, and used in many Indian or Pakistani dishes, such as chutneys or chaats. It has a very specific aroma and distinctive taste, almost like eggs. I use it when making Eggless Salad, (p. 74, EHH).

You can often find black salt in the ethnic section of grocery stores, or at health food stores. If you can't find it in your area, you can also buy it online.

Flours

I'm always getting questions about flour, luckily I've already covered all those questions in these posts:

Flour - White, Wheat or Gluten-Free, Part 1

Flour - White, Wheat or Gluten-Free, Part 2

Everything You Ever Need to Know About Low-Fat (Oil-Free) Vegan Baking (Gluten-Free Tips Included!)

There's also a recipe for Brody's Gluten-Free Flour Blend in EHH, HHA & HHLL.

Garlic Powder & Onion Powder

When shopping for garlic powder and onion powder, look for the kind that is a bit granulated, like a fine salt or sand — not powdery like a flour or confectioners' sugar.

Miso

Miso is basically a fermented condiment. It's made from soybeans, barley or rice, or a combination thereof. Miso can also be made from chickpeas for a soy-free option. It has a salty taste, but a unique one. Miso is refrigerated, and can usually be found by produce and other refrigerated condiments (like dressings). You can find it in health food stores and Asian grocery stores.

The white and (sometimes) red misos are an ok substitute for yellow miso. Most recipes that call for yellow or white miso only need a hint of flavor. Red miso likely will alter the color of the dish if you substitute it in place of a yellow or white miso. Brown misos won't work in HH recipes. Their flavor is too strong and different. If a recipe calls for brown miso, you can't really substitute it with a lighter color miso for the same reason.More information:

What is Miso?

What are the Different Colors of Miso?

Teaching Tuesday: Miso (The Different Colors & Substitutions)

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast (aka nooche) is a deactivated yeast and is dairy & gluten free. It is a complete protein, and has a good source of vitamins. Most brands are also fortified with B-12. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor and is commonly used in vegan recipes to replace a cheese taste.

The only food I’m brand specific about is nutritional yeast (some brands are gross). I’ll only use Braggs or Red Star, even if it means having to order it online (like at bulkfoods.com). If you aren't buying it online, you can find it at health food stores (it's usually in the same aisle as spices).

More information:

What is Nutritional Yeast?

Teaching Tuesday: Nutritional Yeast (Facts & Uses)

Poultry Seasoning

Poultry seasoning is a blend of basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, and oregano, but other herbs may be included. You should buy granulated poultry seasoning and not powdered or chicken spice rubs. If you can't find this at your local grocery store or don't want to buy online, there's a DIY poultry seasoning recipe in most of my cookbooks -- easy blend of common herbs.

Rubbed Sage

Like poultry seasoning, you want to use rubbed sage in HH dishes (especially the Thanksgiving Loaf in Holidays & Gatherings). Its ground and powdery cousin can quickly ruin a dish and turn it into an unappetizing pea green color. If you can't find this in your local grocery store, you can always order it online here.