SPICE STORIES: Sumac • citrusy, berry-like, bright acidity
SINGLE ORIGIN SPICES
You may never have eaten sumac, but it's sneaking up on you. A relative newcomer to American cuisine, the citrusy, berry-like, bracingly tart flower is an old hand with Middle Eastern flavors, and more chefs and cooks and restaurants are embracing it with excitement.
Sumac's bright acidity complements a wide variety of dishes both as a top note and a subtle undertone to provide that bright pop on the palate that brings a recipe together. We love to dust it over fresh popped popcorn with a flaky salt to yield an almost salt-and-vinegar flavor profile, but with more complexity.
In fact this very underrated spice, although citrusy but is a wonderful flavor enhancer like salt, since it highlights what's already in a dish. If you are trying to reduce your salt intake, sumac is a delicious way to kick up the flavor
Sumacs grow in small shrub-like trees with conical flowers that produce produce reddish fruit that when harvested are ground into a tangy crimson spice. The reddish-purple powder is frequently used in Middle Easter cuisine to add a tart, lemony taste to salads and meats.