Ingredients

Ingredients

Real or fake wasabi?

All but the most committed of sushi chefs have given up on using true wasabi (Wasabia japonica), a semiaquatic herb native to the mountain streams of central Japan’s Nagano Prefecture. Most sushi fans are actually eating a mixture of ground horseradish, Chinese mustard, and green food coloring. Fresh wasabi rhizomes—which are different from roots—prove extremely …

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The Science of Gelatin

Easy to use, easy to find, and able to assume the flavor and color of whatever liquid it’s dissolved in, gelatin is a versatile thickener for both sweet and savory cooking-it’s the secret to the shimmering glaze of a perfectly reduced pan sauce and the silky mouth-feel of an ethereal panna cotta. Mix gelatin with …

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Why One Island Grows 80% of the World’s Vanilla

The economics of vanilla are complicated and grim. GAMMA-RAPHO/GETTY IMAGES LAST WEEK, THE WISCONSIN-BASED BUSINESS Penzey’s Spices sent out emails emblazoned with a frown emoji. The occasion was a several dollars per ounce hike in the price of vanilla. Founder Bill Penzey wrote a brief explanation: Madagascar, where 80 percent of the world’s vanilla comes …

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The Tonka Bean Is Revered For Its Superb Flavor, But It’s Illegal And Might Kill You

All the best stuff is illegal. You’re thinking about tonka beans too, right? This flavorful little bean is the golden goose of sweet, haute culinary creations, but you don’t want to be caught with the treat in the U.S. Not just because the FDA will put you on their most wanted list, but because, well, …

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What’s The Difference Between Natural And Artificial Ingredients?

If you’ve ever tasted banana-flavored Laffy Taffy, you know the disappointment of artificial flavors. They’re pungent and overly simple, and often taste nothing like what they claim to be. The most popular form of artificial banana flavor is a molecule called isoamyl acetate. Natural banana flavor, on the other hand, is a molecule called — …

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Why Is a ‘Pepper’ Different From ‘Pepper’? Blame Christopher Columbus

Black pepper and chili peppers have little in common. What defines a “pepper?” PUBLIC DOMAIN CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS HAD A PROBLEM. Less motivated by discovery than by opportunity, he had promised the riches of Asia to his patrons, Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain. Against all odds, he had sailed across the Atlantic and docked …

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Bakeapple

Almost every Newfoundlander has a secret spot for foraging this honey-sweet berry. Berry season in Newfoundland is a beautiful thing. Aside from the fact that the boggy land and salt-filled air are far from conducive to traditional agriculture, the island is ripe for the picking with a mind-boggling variety of berries. Blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries …

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Witchetty Grubs

In the Australian desert, the roots of the witchetty bush hold a savoury treat. In the desert of the Australian outback, the roots of the witchetty bush hold a secret treat inside their roots—thick, white, thumb-sized worms. These are technically the larvae of the cossid wood moth. But they’re more commonly known as witchetty grubs, …

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Chocolate Daisy

This wildflower releases a cocoa fragrance each morning. If Willy Wonka were pushing up daisies, they would be of the Berlandiera lyrata variety. This yellow blossom (which is actually a species of sunflower) produces a heady aroma that smells distinctly of chocolate. Locals in the American Southwest and Mexico have likely seen fields of these vibrant …

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Geoduck

This phallic, giant clam is the culinary crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest. The geoduck (pronounced “gooey-duck”) is no duck, nor is it particularly gooey. It’s the world’s largest burrowing clam, and it resides only in the coastal waters around Washington State and British Columbia. Despite the geoduck’s likeness to the “wrinkled schlong of a deformed …

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Black Garlic

These inky cloves have aged like a fine wine. Garlic growers have to find creative ways to preserve their harvest. If left in a warm, humid environment for a few weeks, the pungent bulbs turn inky black. Despite appearances, the yield isn’t spoiled. This savory iteration is simply called “black garlic.” By placing garlic in …

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The renaissance of Northern Ireland’s forgotten ‘seafood’

For more than 1,000 years, a rare reddish-purple seaweed known as dulse has fed coastal communities in Northern Ireland. Now, it’s making waves as a trendy superfood. Hand-picked from the sea At 04:00 every morning between May and September, Stephen McAllister peers out the window of his bungalow along Northern Ireland’s craggy Antrim Coast, looks …

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Blackberry Jam Fruit

Inside a hard, yellow shell lies a sweet, black spread. JARED RYDELEK Peanut butter fruit may have met its perfect match with another oddity of nature: blackberry jam fruit. The fruit of Rosenbergiodendron formosum has a pulp that’s so jam-like in its consistency that some people actually spread it over bread. The flowering bush is native to …

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Wattleseed

This chocolate-flavoured superfood falls from the Australian Acacia bush. Australia’s superfood is the wattleseed. The edible seed is the product of the Acacia, a bush with more than 100 varieties—not all suitable for consumption. The seeds are housed inside small, flat pods similar to tamarind. Most commonly, the seeds are ground up and turned into …

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