Whether from seeds or leaves, bark or berries, flowers or roots, spices are harvested from all parts of plants, bringing life and color to dishes, invigorating taste buds and delighting palates around the globe. They can add a subtle hint of flavor, pack a potent punch of heat, and can even evoke feelings of nostalgia.

Spices arguably can define an entire cuisine. From the lingering heat of Thai chilis and Indian curries, to the complex fusion of global flavors that is Cajun cuisine, these flavorful plant components become defining ingredients for cultures throughout the world.

Kick it up a notch as we discover four regional restaurants using spice to bring life to some of their most popular dishes. – Carie Birkmeier

Feast Raw Bar & Bistro

Sharing exceptional cuisine and inviting guests to participate in an epicurean dining experience is the driving force of Feast. Serving the best in sustainable seafood, as well as locally sourced meats and produce, Feast is a unique Bozeman eatery. 270 West Kagy Boulevard, Suite C, Bozeman, Montana – – (406) 577-2377

Salmon Spice Rub

2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/4 cup ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon ground clove
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/4 cup kosher salt
Salmon fillets
  1. Mix all ingredients, except salmon, thoroughly until there are no clumps of brown sugar.
  2. Coat salmon well with spice rub. Heat a skillet with 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high heat. Sear salmon for 1 minute on each side or until caramelized.
  3. Finish salmon in a 400-degree oven to desired doneness.
  4. Consider serving over udon noodles with spicy dashi broth, fresh spinach and cilantro. Garnish with pickled ginger, scallion and Fresno chilis.
  5. Store your spice rub in an airtight container for up to six months. The rub can be used on fish, chicken, pork or roasted vegetables.

Lone Peak Brewery & Taphouse

Lone Peak Brewery & Taphouse has been a Big Sky locals’ favorite since 2007. Their jambalaya is a spicy creole dish with Redneck Andouille sausage, chicken and shrimp over sticky rice, and it’s been on the menu since the very beginning. This dish is enjoyed by patrons every month of the year. 48 Market Place, Big Sky, Montana – – (406) 995-3939


3/4 pound chicken breast, chopped
3 links cooked Andouille sausage, sliced in thin diagonals
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup each Anaheim, red and yellow bell peppers chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 32-ounce can pear tomatoes
4 ounces tomato paste
4 tablespoons Lone Peak Break Jambalaya Seasoning
Garlic to taste, minced
Jalapenos to taste, minced
2 cups medium-grain white rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Rinse the rice several times in cold water, drain and add to a pot with 2 cups of water on medium heat.
  2. Simmer for 20 minutes or until it’s about to boil over. Turn off stove range, but don’t remove from the heat source for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and let it sit for an additional 10 minutes, leaving covered the entire time.
  4. In a large stockpot, heat olive oil on medium-high heat and sauté chicken breast.
  5. Sprinkle jambalaya seasoning generously to coat chicken well, before it begins to cook. Stir occasionally until mostly done.
  6. Add onion, celery and bell peppers, then the garlic and jalapeno spread. Add 1/2 cup water, stir and cover to sweat the vegetables for approximately 10 minutes.
  7. Add the andouille sausage, cover and sweat for an additional 10 minutes.
  8. Add chicken broth, tomato paste and pear tomatoes, then stir and simmer for 10 minutes.

Lotus Pad

Fresh, fun, organic: Lotus Pad proudly serves Asian cuisine and Thai specialties with local and organic ingredients in a vibrant atmosphere. Beloved by locals, Lotus Pad has also won Best Restaurant in Big Sky six times, according to Explore Big Sky newspaper readers. 47 Town Center Avenue, Unit D1, Big Sky, Montana. – – (406) 995-2728

Famous Lotus Pad Larp

2 ounces oil (peanut or coconut)
6 ounces ground pork
1 fresh Thai chili
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 lime, juiced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Small handful basil, chopped
Small handful shallot
1 tablespoon peanuts, chopped
1 tablespoon puffed rice as garnish (optional)
  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat, then add pork and Thai chili, and sauté until two-thirds cooked through.
  2. Add garlic and shallots and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar, and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Add basil and cayenne and stir to combine.
  5. Remove from heat. Garnish with peanuts and puffed rice. Serve with 8-10 lettuce leaves.

Michaelangel’s Ristorante Italiano

The world-renowned San Marzano tomato originated from the rich volcanic soils of Mount Vesuvius near Naples, Italy. This thick-fleshed and nearly seedless tomato delivers a bittersweet and less acidic flavor, and is a favorite of Michael Annandono, the owner and executive chef of Michaelangelo’s Ristorante Italiano. Pair these tomatoes with sweet lobster meat, shaved garlic and white wine to create a spicy pasta dish that has been a staple in southern Italy for generations. 75 Center Lane, Big Sky, Montana – – (406) 995-7373

Lobster Fra Diablo

3 quarts boiling water
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 pound spaghetti, dry or uncooked
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, slivered
1 10-ounce lobster tail or 1.5-pound whole lobster, split and knuckle and claw meat pulled
1 cup San Marzano tomato, pureed
1 cup red and yellow cherry tomatoes, roasted
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3/4 cup Greco di Tufo or other dry Italian white wine
1 teaspoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. Boil water in a large pot, add sea salt and reserve.
  2. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil on medium-high with slivered garlic and roasted tomatoes for 1 minute.
  3. Add the lobster meat, white wine, oregano, parsley, San Marzano tomato, red pepper flakes and cook approximately 4 minutes, or until wine has reduced by half.
  4. Cover and let simmer until lobster is no longer translucent.
  5. Cook pasta 7-8 minutes in the boiling water until al dente, then season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
  6. Mix pasta with sauce and serve. (Serves 2)

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