Not bitter like lemon zest or astringent like vinegar, but somewhat fruity and floral without being noticeably sweet, Sumac entices the tongue with its surprising lemon-lime tartness and its lingering tease.
Sumac is the secret weapon in our spice cabinet: it has the power to bring incredible acidity to food without adding extra liquid.
Definitely one of the least known and most underappreciated spices, Sumac is slowly creeping up onto the table as a staple sprinkle to the likes of salt and pepper.
Chances are, if you’ve had Middle Eastern or Mediterranean dishes like kebab or anything dusted with za’atar, you’ve tasted sumac’s wonderful tartness.
But because of its idiosyncrasies, sumac hasn’t found a place in the average household spice arsenal, despite the fact that it is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory spices out there.
If you search for sumac on the internet, your results will probably churn out images of shrubs and bunches of red dense berries.
While this Rhus genus consists of over 150 species, the most commonly consumed variation today are Rhus coriaria (also known as Sicilian sumac, Iranian sumac, and Syrian sumac, depending on who you ask) - the variation that originated in the Mediterranean basin before spreading across southern Europe and the Middle East.
Add an exotic twist with Sumac instead of using lemon juice or zest.
In fact, add it wherever you would normally use lemon, lime or zest. It’s great for rice dishes, and Middle Eastern fare such as hummus, bean or chickpea salads, while fish, poultry and vegetable dishes all spring to life in a new way!
ps. it’s also a great lifter of sandwich fillings, even cheddar and sumac is a winning combination!