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Flavouring

Flavouring

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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Flavours that pretend to be something else

If you drink mango juice, you could be forgiven for thinking mango is the main ingredient, but that’s often not true. Food substitutions to enhance flavour are surprisingly common. In a world where modern chemistry has allowed almost anything to be flavoured or coloured like almost anything else, you can stumble across some surprising substitutions. …

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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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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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