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Spices: When Your Dish Needs a Little Something Something

Spices, aromatics, and herbs add more dimensions of flavor to our foods. The selection of flavor profiles to play with in the kitchen is endless, and we are excited to help you learn more about making the right choices for your dinner menu. When we talk about spices, we are talking about any seed, root, fruit, bark, or other plant substance used in the flavoring or coloring of food. On the other hand, herbs are specifically any leaves, flowers, or stems of plants used to flavor food or as a garnish.

In this section, learn more about the spices already in your pantry and about others you might want to experiment with on your next culinary venture. From fiery chilies to aromatic seeds and everything in between, we are here to help you learn more about spicing up your cooking.

Spice Categories

When choosing the right spices and herbs for your meal, you want to ask yourself:

  1. Are you looking for fresh or dried? Fresh herbs and spices are known to have a more potent flavor. For their dried counterparts, you need to use a bit more in quantity to pack the same punch, but they have a longer shelf-life.
  2. What form are you looking for? The answer can be a matter of both convenience and how they will be used. Most commonly, herbs and spices will be ground into a powder for use during cooking, but you can also use whole forms, like star anise which is a cluster of seeds still in the pod or whole cinnamon sticks vs. ground cinnamon. You can also stock up on whole herbs and spices then grind them yourself when needed using a mortar and pestle or a grinder.

Now that we’ve reviewed the components that can affect what you’re looking to stock in your pantry, let’s take a closer look at some specific types.

  • Chilies: While whole chilies are considered a vegetable in their own right, these peppers are often dried and sometimes ground to be their own spices that add heat and flavor to any dish. With numerous varieties, from Thai red and green chilies to habanero peppers, there are tons to choose from to add the right kick to your next dinner.
  • Seeds: Some plants are cultivated just for their seeds, like cardamom, while other plants are cultivated for many purposes and the seeds are just another part of the plant that we eat. Seeds are sometimes used whole in recipes while, more commonly, seeds will be ground into a finer powder for culinary use. This category includes many classic flavors, like sesame, cumin, coriander, fennel, and mustard – and each seed is a powerhouse of taste.
  • Barks: Tree bark supplies us with a number of spices many of us may already have in our pantries. Two of the most common are cinnamon and cassia, which give dishes a fragrant, warm flavor.
  • Roots: Like bark, roots are known for their warm and earthy flavors. You can use some roots fresh or dried – like ginger – but the flavor profiles will be different depending on the form that you’re using. Other examples of spices from roots include tumeric and horseradish.
  • Herbs: These are derived from the leaves, flowers, and stems of plants in order to flavor or garnish food, and these flavorful friends can be a great addition to your cooking, fresh or dried. Herbs commonly used in the kitchen include basil, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, bay leaves, and thyme
  • Peppercorns: These are actually dried berries which grow on vines, and they are often used in cooking whole or ground into a powder. There are a few kinds of peppercorns that come in different colors and can make your dishes a little more, well, peppery, like Szechuan peppercorns or Jamaican Allspice.
  • Spice Blends: While you can use the components above to mix and match your own spice blends, you can also purchase premade spice blends for your convenience.

Visit us soon to add some pep to your plate – we’re excited to share with you our spice offerings that showcase flavors from around the world.

Have a favorite spice blend or a recipe that showcases herbs? We’d love to hear it!

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Assorted fresh and dried chili peppers scattered on a white surface.
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