One of my favorite elements of food aside texture is the flavor.
Nothing beats a good dish that is just bursting with flavors, good pairing of spices and just simply delicious even when there could be issues with the other elements.
For instance it might not turn out aesthetically appealing or might be overcooked, mistakes happen every time. In spite of mishaps, if it tastes good, it is a win. Hehe.
In this article we will discuss how to make food flavorful and optimizing flavor in cooking.
What makes food flavorful?
Basically that is the function of umami. It is safe to say umami taste. It’s not salt, or sugar, it is considered the 5th taste of the tongue. It is simply the key to that “uhm this is delicious” reaction. Lol. I don’t know if this analogy is clear enough to you.
It was discovered by a Japanese scientist Dr Kikunae Ikeda when he successfully identified its purest form Monosodium Glutamate. In summary if it is umami rich, it is flavor rich.
Some umami rich food could be natural, or kinda processed but they all pack a punch of flavor and make our food savory and make us very happy when we eat them. They include;
- Sea food (shrimps, crayfish… etc.)
- Soybean (and bye products; some seasoning powder and cubes, soy sauce)
- Locust beans(called Iru in Yoruba)
Optimizing Flavor in cooking
In this segment I will further break my narration into two topics;
- The selection
- The execution
By selection, I’m simply referring to the options we use, our spice options, protein options, and the state of these options also have a role to play.
Know the spices that are umami rich, some examples; turmeric, coriander, garlic, onion powder etc.
The herbs, some have incredible flavor and slightly different profiles in fresh and dry state. Some, their flavors intensify when they are dried. Use what you prefer either ways.
Fermented foods are a flavorful. Your pickles and quick pickles, fermented hot sauce, fish sauce, fermented shrimp pastes, fermented locust beans paste, fermented soybean paste (e.g. the Korean doejang) etc. the results are phenomenal, they always add a depth of flavor to the dish.
Another crucial tip; be adventurous, learn and explore amazing pairings and combinations.
The fun part in all of this; this is simply the methods employed to get and amp the flavor (and savoriness lol) while cooking.
It involves how you process or cook your proteins, how you treat your herbs and spices too, do you toast your grains? Basically the steps you take when cooking to get the best or a certain flavor out of the ingredients at hand.
Some tips to walk you through;
- Spices love heat, especially whole spices. Toast a little before you grind them, sauté your powdered spices too.
- Sautéed veggies taste good.
- Grilled veggies are amazing, toss in some garlic and herbs too with oil and salt. Could be done in a pan or in the oven.
- Marinate your protein for a good amount of time, slit the skin for better penetration.
- Meat cuts with bones have more flavor, e.g. chicken thighs will taste better than the breast.
- When making stocks; when the pot comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for the remaining period of the cook time.
- Slow cook your stews and proteins sometimes.
- Don’t throw out all your pasta water when draining, add some of the pasta when mixing pasta with the sauce.
- Sprinkle some aromatic at the end of the cook time. Usually these don’t require cooking, just some heat from the food, e.g of these fresh coriander leaves, green bell peppers, sesame oil, uziza leaves, scent leaves, curry leaves etc.
There is almost no end to the tips, because cooking is very versatile just explore a little as I said earlier and feel free to share your own tips on making food more delicious. Thank you for reading, and i can’t wait to hear about your new adventures in the kitchen.