Powdered Vinegar

Through a small miracle of science, you can add vinegar flavor to dry foods like popcorn and kale chips, in addition to all the pickles and salads. A few summers ago, trying desperately to make some green beans less watery and waxy and boring, I tried to make a knockoff version of something I had …

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How ‘Ennobling’ Helped Italian Aristocrats Solve the Problem of Garlic

The ingredient would have otherwise been too cheap to grace noble tables. Peasant food in action in Annibale Carracci’s The Beaneater, c. 1585. PUBLIC DOMAIN FOR THE 16TH-CENTURY ITALIAN NOBLE, garlic posed a unique, culinary dilemma. To demonstrate status, a person of taste and means served food prepared with the finest, rarest spices, such as …

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Ambergris – The Whale excrement that once flavoured ice cream.

Occasionally, a rogue squid beak gets lodged in a sperm whale’s intestines. To protect its soft innards against the sharp irritant, the animal produces a waxy secretion called ambergris (“gray amber”), much like an oyster forming a pearl. Excreted ambergris is turned into a rock-like mass by saltwater and sunshine. By the time the weather-beaten …

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‘French’ Hamburgers

If you are talking about biftek hache or just plain patties of ground meat, chances are they’re made the “French” way with suet wrapping, more fat than you’ll find in a burger, sometimes eggs or finely diced onions and garlic, and cooked in broth before being finished on the grill. I don’t know either of …

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Pickled Seeds

Photo: Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott Acid. Spice. Salt. Texture. Savvy chefs have tricks for bringing each of these elements to every dish, and Thomas McNaughton of San Francisco pasta temple Flour + Water is no exception. Potent pickled seeds are his game, which the chef deploys to lend a lightness and acidity that he …

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Layer Flavour

My friend Emily talks about Ottolenghi’s vegetable paella with absolute awe. “At every step he adds flavour,” she says. It’s true, says the man himself. “I try to create as many outstanding moments as possible when eating a dish. I find an opportunity to add currants or sherry or something else that stands out.” Ottolenghi …

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Flavour combinations

When asked: ”What are some unorthodox flavour combinations you have unearthed that give unexpected pleasure,” he responds gleefully. ”These flavours should normally clash, but they actually work together. Unusual food combinations awaken the senses and generate an emotional response in the diner.” He suggests we consider the following combinations: sardines, mango and black pepper; white …

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Smoking meat

Cold smoke Ideally below 20 degrees (up to 30) to limit spoilage (rancidity, bacterial) and physical changes to the food. Hot smoke Idealy 55-70 (up to 90) with this you want to ensure enough temperature to reduce bacterial numbers and degrade the physical structure of the meat/fish etc. There is a balancing act between dimensions …

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Flavouring salmon

When I make salmon ( mostly baked) I always add blackberry or blackcurrant to make it taste naturally sweet and sour. Mustafa Kurtay

Vegetarian flavour enhancers

Some flavour enhancers that have a load of glutamates, inosinates and guanylates that provide umami for vegetarians are: Soy Sauce Parmesan Cheese Seaweed (especially Kombu) Cooked Tomato Paste Cooked Mushrooms Miso Paste Fermented Tofu Fermented Black Beans Fermented  Chili Bean sauce (Chinese/Szechuan) (a good substitute for Miso actually) Fermented Vegetables (Pickles, Sauerkraut, Kimchee and the …

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