ID-100101588Here is a list of some interesting and no-so-popular ingredients you may want incorporate into your menu:

  • Scorpion Chile – Sorry Ghost chile, there is a new, (not really that new) king of fire in town. This is a variety in the capsicum chinense family that on average, has a SHU measurement of 1.2 million.  That is face melting heat, and the current world record is held by the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion burning at over 2 million SHU’s.  New Mexico State University’s Chile Pepper Institute regulates the testing and authentication of these chiles.  These chiles also have a a sweet, fruity flavor profile which you may forget after your tongue falls off.
  • Wiri Wiri Chile – Averaging at around 70,000 SHU’s, this chile still packs a punch but add a delightful fresh, bright flavor when used.  Works great when blended into a hot sauce sweetened with fruit.
  • Yellow Eye Steuben Bean – This bean has a mild flavor and a beautiful mustard colored spot on a off white background.  The hold up exceptionally well when cooked and make an excellent carrier for strong flavors.  They are actually related to the kidney bean.
  • Chinese Black Rice – This is a medium grain glutinous rice perfect for all kinds of interesting recipes.  It is relatively sweet and slightly sticky, but will impart its deep indigo color to anything you cook with it.  Stop using a boring all purpose white rice already!
  • Grano – This is an ancient whole kernel pearled wheat berry from Italy. It has a texture between al dente pasta and brown rice, but with a vibrant golden hue.  Grano is made from durum wheat, the same used to make most upscale pasta. This grain holds up great after cooking, so use in soups, salads, and pilaf dishes, and can be ground then used like a hot cereal.  (I used it to make this salad.)
  • Kaniwa – A close relative to quinoa and also a member of the goosefoot family.  It is used just like quinoa in many applications and has all of the same nutritional benefits, Kaniwa has the added bonus of not containing saponins, which sometimes causes quinoa to be bitter.
  • Fregola Sarda – This is a toasted form of couscous and comes in a variety of sizes.  It has a rough texture which help sauce cling to it, and the toasted gives it a beautiful browned color and and firm bite.
  • Sumac – The North America variety is poisonous, however varieties grown in the Middle East impart a sour flavor the same way you might use lemon or lime juice.  It also has a dark red color which makes for a fantastic presentation.
  • Black Garlic – Originally made by letting garlic cloves ferment over vats of soy sauce, black garlic imparts a deep molasses-like profile with tangy garlic undertones.  The texture becomes soft and gooey similar to dried fruit.  It does not leave you with the pungent fresh garlic flavor or odor you may be used to.
  • Long Pepper – This was the first pepper variety brought to the West.  It has a more intense flavor compared to traditional peppercorns, as well as sweet undertones.  It can also be ground just like it’s black or white peppercorn brethren.
  • Fleur De Sel – Most chefs and foodies will know this is the purest, most pricy sea salt available.  Produced in France, it has a bright white color, a wet, grainy texture, and is best used to finish a dish, as well as up-charge your guests.
  • Hemp Hearts – Considered a ‘super-food’ due to their nutritional value, they are the soft, creamy nut inside the hemp shell.  Very high in plant protein, vitamin E, and omega-6 fatty acid, they make a great alternative to those with nut allergies.

What are some of your not-so-familiar food ingredients???

  1. Paige Andrea says:

    Ummm face melting heat?! Yes please. Make my nose run and my eyes cry so I know it’s real LOL.

  2. Hi, I just nominated you for a Liebster Award. You can find the details at You have a great blog and have definitely earned it.

  3. debbeedoodles says:

    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing!

  4. kate magee says:

    Thank you for sharing – always love getting new recommendations on ingredients and flavours. And if you are a fan of rice pudding, try making it with black rice & coconut milk! Learned this at a cooking school inThailand and it is amazing (and a gorgeous mauve-y colour)…

  5. Awesome! Love hearing about unknown foods.

  6. SandyLand says:

    Where can I pick up some of that black garlic? (Or will you just incorporate it into the dinner you’re going to make me? Haha.)

  7. Reblogged this on Cage Free Lifestyle and commented:

  8. Mina says:

    I am always in for trying new foods, but “black garlic”? I don’t know… 🙂

  9. Georgina says:

    What an interesting list. I’d like to try the black garlic (sounds incredible) and the fregola sarda. And then everything else!

  10. Jamie Brazil says:

    i love hemp hearts 🙂

  11. Thanks for the like and the follow. Your time is appreciated. Check out more Moringa info at

  12. What an interesting Blog you have!!! I can’t stop reading your posts… Glad I found you yesterday… Thanks for liking my post which led to this! 🙂

    Three Items still didn’t try in my cooking or tried in any food I ever ordered…
    Scorpion Chile… Which will be interesting to try on my Fiance and his mum who are like like their food as spicy full of chili as possible… Big usage of Wiri Wiri in their house…

    Black Garlic I never tried… I think I would like to use it in making some canapes, I can just imagine the taste..

    Hemp Hearts also never tired… I think would work perfectly with few salad recipes in my mind if it is as I’m expecting little nutty seed like…

    I have to thank you again!!!

    • chefman316 says:

      Thank you for the comments! All three of the ingredients are super tasty, and I just used the hemp heart in an arugula pesto in replacement of pine nuts. Still super tasty!

  13. thebrookcook says:

    Great list! I am on the fence with black “forbidden” rice. It is a nice change of pace though– We always eat brown basmati- so perfect for me!

    • I have used the black rice in few salads… Amazing… Black Rice Salad with Coconut and Mango
      Fresh coconut, mango, green beans ( or even Kidney Beans). Another Salad that it was huge success is Black Rice with lentil and walnut…

      Another way my daughter loved it was when I actually mixed it with Long Basmati rice… It gave color and beautiful aroma…

      Making a whole pot of Black rice is too expensive but for people who can’t afford it in big portions salads and mixing in other dishes is amazing!!! 😉

      • thebrookcook says:

        I did make a whole pot of black rice as a substitute for brown- my family didn’t appreciate the change! 🙂 I love your ideas– putting it into salads sounds particularly delicious. I mix red quinoa in with my brown basmati rice- I don’t know why I didn’t think of mixing in black rice! That sounds like a great idea too. Thanks for all of the great suggestions! 🙂

      • Oh thanks for the Quinoa rice idea which I never tried… If you are using Red Quinoa, Try Red Quinoa with little mix of white + mixed colors capsicum (Bell Pepper) + Dried Cranberries Salad with Honey Red vinegar Dressing… Try to watch out the dressing It should give kind of sweet finishing in the mouth!! It is my daughter’s favorite Salad now and she hates SALADS!!! 😛

        I love food… I’m as chefman316 (NERDSTEAK) explains in his next post in food business without being a chef!! But now seriously thinking of it!!! At least studying to help me even more at work and passion!! 🙂

      • chefman316 says:

        So what kind of food business are you in???

      • 🙂

        I’m a bit of many you mentioned. PR/Sales/Consultant/Customer Service/Wedding planner/Food Designer/Bit of Food Critic….

        My Position at work is Artisan Patisserie-Banquet Boutique Manager… Our Patisserie is considered top in the country I’m living in.

        I get All from High class Royal Family to the low budget customers to plan their buffets, Dinners, Weddings, Cakes… etc.

        I also get invited Very often for any new restaurant openings…

        Oh, and I have been surrounded by Chefs practically 2/3 of my life time!!

        😀 I love food!!!

      • chefman316 says:

        That sounds like a fantastic position to be in!

  14. charr00 says:

    Just when I was looking for new ‘building blocks’ in the kitchen…here you are with a whole list! Thanks!

  15. Cool post. I like the sound of scorpion chilli. Thanks for checking out Emma.

  16. Sorry to break it to you, but another chile has actually knocked the Scorpion off it’s post. I cannot remember the name of it, because I frankly stopped paying attention after the Naga Jolokia. Ghost chile has such an incredible flavor that really belies it’s heat. I love to make caramel out of it. You get just a bit of a zing, but are able to experience the full flavor of the chile in that preparation. It actually has one of the most complex and delicious flavor of any chile I have ever tried.

    Is wiri wiri the same as the piri piri? I mistakenly ate a whole piri piri by itself at a Brazilian rodizio restaurant. That was some pain. I brought a small bag of black rice home from China, but it was confiscated by customs! I was so upset. Congratulations on including some ingredients I either have not tried yet or have not heard of. That is a bit of a feat. I second sumac!

    Some of my obscure ingredients are grains of paradise, asafoetida, nata de coco, suundubu. If you are unfamiliar with any of them, check em out.

    • chefman316 says:

      The Trinidad Moruga Scorpion is the current world record holding chile set by New Mexico State University which is the official tester of chiles. If there is a hotter one, it has not be officially confirmed yet. All of these are way to hot for my anyways hahahaha!

  17. tciprian says:

    How appropriate…trying new spices IS the spice of life 🙂 Thanks for sharing

  18. dawnspitfire says:

    Reblogged this on dawn spitfire's blog and commented:
    And many more 😀

  19. Deblet says:

    thanks for the visit….boy these are unusual and I wonder just how many we would be able to find in Cape Town South Africa

  20. WhatsInAName says:

    First, thanks for visiting my blog! Also I have only tried a handful of the foods on your list, but believe you me, I will be trying more. On that same note, I highly recommend black garlic. Seriously, it’s delicious, plus you can press it into a paste (because it’s fermented and no longer really has any structural integrity) and add it to all kinds of sauces, marinades, soups…you name it!! Also if you can find the right provider it’s not really very expensive and it’s potent enough that a little bit goes a very long way. I made a wing marinade with it once for a dinner with friends. One of them has worked in the food industry for probably 20 years and he said that they were perfect. Anyway, keep the posts coming, love it!!

  21. Leonor says:

    Can I be a party-pooper and say that Fleur de Sel doesn’t necessarily come from France? One of the best in the world actually comes from the south of Portugal and is very much sought after.

    (Look at me, I actually sound like I know what I’m talking about!)

    • chefman316 says:

      HEHEHE Well since the process and the carful labor of producing Fleur de Sel originated off of the coast of Brittany in France, and is now produced in numerous countries including Portugal and Canada among others, I will say that the authentic Fleur de Sel only comes from France. However the other countries producing it do a fine job as well, so you aren’t THAT much of a party pooper ;o)

  22. I had a friend with a genetic defect so he couldn’t feel capsaicin, I have always been able to tolerate heat, even a lot, but he was eating some strange peppers, so grabbed one and took a bite as he said don’t! I’ll never forget the shock to my central nervous system, almost causing me me to pass out, under the sink faucet with a cold jet of water cooling what felt like molten flesh. I learned that I am mortal!!!

  23. beyondbites says:

    interesting blog! always been intrigued to try sumac. maybe now i will. Thanks for stopping by my blog and giving me a “like”!

  24. I love your list! If I were to add to it I would place acai in there as well.

  25. emilykarn says:

    I like to use dried lavender flowers and crystallized ginger. In the spring I collect a local wild water weed known as cowslips. You cook it like spinach.

  26. emilykarn says:

    I like dried lavender flowers and crystallized ginger. The hottest pepper I like is the local “Scotch Bonnet” one is enough to flavor an entire pot of chile! In the spring i pick a wild local water plant known as “Cowslips” it is slightly bitter and is cooked like spinach. Thanks for liking my blog.

  27. […] Unfamiliar Foods You May Want To Try. […]

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