Notes from the Kitchen: Our Favorite Unique Ingredients!

Notes from the Kitchen: Our Favorite Unique Ingredients!

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Since I started working at the farm in 2016, I've been introduced to a whole new world of individual flavors I would have been hard-pressed to find otherwise. I had heard of some on cooking shows I used to watch with my family or had seen featured in travel YouTube videos, but I never imagined I'd end up working with, tasting, and smelling these ingredients everyday.

Every pepper flake or powder is distinct; some mind-meltingly hot, and others more sweet than spicy. We've run the gamut of veggie powders and explored the entirety of the allium family (the genus of flowering plants that gives us leeks, onions, chives, garlic, and more). My personal spice collection at home spills out of the cupboards and onto my countertops; not only is it full of our blends and salts, but also full of ingredients I've found through the farm and now use daily. Here's my top 4 favorite oddball ingredients we get to play with daily!

Gochugaru Pepper

Find it in: Kimchi Salt

Pairs well with: crispy fried eggs, buttered popcorn, honey-butter corn on the cob

My favorite pepper we get to work with. Gochugaru is a staple in Korean cuisine; it gives kimchi its often deep, red hue, and is made into the delicious chili paste gochujang that’s used in bibimbap and Korean barbeque. Brought to Korea from Portugal in the late 1500s, this pepper is known for its depth: a mild kick, sweetness, and a distinctive smoky quality. It also has a stunning sheen to each pepper flake that makes it glitter in the sunlight of our spice kitchen.

When our head of product development and overall flavor master, Tyler, set about making a Kimchi flavored seasoning, he realized gochugaru would be one of the first ingredients we’d need to utilize. It is the undercurrent of the blend that makes it just a little spicy, tangy, and sweet. 


Moruga Scorpion 

Find it in: Hot Popcorn Blend, Scorpion Salt

Pairs well with: finishing salt for cacio e pepe, margarita rim, fish tacos, cucumber & cream cheese topper 

Originally created in Trinidad in the late 1990s by farmer Wahid Ogeer, the Trinidad Moruga scorpion was once the hottest pepper in the world, clocking in at 1.2 million Scovilles (for comparison: gochugaru clocks in about 1,500, and a jalapeño is anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000). The heat is too intense for many to handle, but the flavor is worth the sting: scorpion peppers are tropical and fruity with hints of sweetness underneath all the bite.

To make our Scorpion Salt, an ode to the pepper itself, we have anyone working in the kitchen gear up: in addition to our regular kitchen attire, we add a dust mask, as well as a face protection mask on top, which we lovingly call “the Darth-Vader mask”. See Anna, our spice kitchen lead, rocking it above! In addition to habanero, it also creates the bite behind one of our farm favorites, our Hot Popcorn Blend. In addition to the spice kick, it creates an amazing depth of flavor that blends so well with the umami of nutritional yeast.

Black Garlic

Find it in: Garlic & Friends

Pairs well with: warm baguette, compound butter, baked chicken breast, caper butter sauce 

Oh, black garlic! One of my favorite scents of the spice kitchen, forever: a bulk bag of ground black garlic. It smells like fig balsamic vinegar, and tastes so rich, complex, and flavorful it’s almost hard to believe it's simply aged garlic. Most likely originating in Korea, black garlic is created through aging the garlic in an environment of controlled heat and humidity over a period of weeks or months, where it takes on a sticky texture, and an almost caramelized taste. It is then granulated for our blends. It’s a favorite among our kitchen staff to work with for the plumes of black garlic powder that envelope the room in its date-like, syrupy scent. 

When Tyler set about to make our most requested product, Garlic Salt he realized black garlic was a must to develop a unique and more complex garlic salt; adding other buddies in the allium family, including leek and onion, created the Garlic & Friends that continues to be one of our company favorites and bestsellers! 


Kelp, Dulse, and Sea Lettuce

Find it in: Gomasio

Pairs well with: Buddha bowls, stir-fry, cottage cheese garnish, chili-oil noodles

Traditionally made with just ground sesame and salt (gomasio meaning literally “sesame” (goma) and “salt” (shio) in Japanese), our blend kicks up the briny goodness with an addition of three sea greens: kelp, dulse, and sea lettuce. The smell is distinctly oceanic, and filled with warm umami; the purple and deep emerald flakes are vibrant against the toasty sesame seeds.


Sea lettuce is found all over the coasts of the world, and is naturally high in vitamins A, C, and E. Dulse has been a staple in North-western European diets and cuisine for over a thousand years, and contains an amazing amount of potassium and calcium. Kelp naturally contains loads of antioxidants (including carotenoids and flavonoids) and has been a feature of mealtime since prehistory! These 3 super seafoods are what makes Gomasio my plain rice superhero.

What's your favorite, totally unique ingredient you first found in your SJISS seasonings? And which ones are you curious to learn more about?

Happy spring time from all of us at the farm, and stay salty folks!

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