Hot answers tagged

43

In general, it is a good idea to go light on spices when trying a new recipe, if you're not intimately familiar with the flavor and spice combinations in question. It's a great deal easier to add spice later than it is to mask it once you've added too much. Assuming you are reading this because you didn't do that, and have now ended up with a sauce that's ...


37

Their primary purpose is flavor, although (as mentioned by @David Richerby) they can also be used for thickening in some cases. If you don't like them, but other members of your household do, then it becomes a cost-benefit analysis of every dish. If your hatred of onions is visceral, yet other family members would just kind of rather have them than not, not ...


35

Non-native and out of season fruits and vegetables that are available in northern countries (e.g. UK, Canada) need to be shipped from far away and will be picked before they are naturally ripe (under the normal sun and heat and getting nutrients from the soil). They will ripen in controlled environments (UV lights, maybe controlled atmosphere and ...


32

In addition to Max's answer, much UK supermarket fruits and vegetables are from varieties grown to have tough skins (so they don't damage in transit), have a long shelf life (so they can be transported long distances and won't go off in the shop), and don't easily bruise / spoil. UK consumers (at least according to supermarkets) care more about cosmetic ...


31

Searing on a grill to "seal in juices" has largely been disproven. Meat loses juice at roughly the same speed regardless of searing the meat first. Searing does produce the Maillard reaction and caramelization which enhances flavor; however, searing first doesn't produce better results. A test performed by Alton Brown in 2008 demonstrated that searing at ...


28

Determine correct ratio of food to salt. Add more food until proper ratio is achieved. Or just serve extra beer with it.


26

I sometimes add a bit of lemon juice... works to a degree.


24

How about using orange zest instead of the juice? That way you'll get a lot of the aroma and flavor we think of as "orange" without really changing the sweetness or acidity.


23

It has long been known that receptacles influence the taste and appreciation of beverages. Wine glasses, for example, are optimal for giving the nose an opportunity to experience the wine. They enclose a volume that allows you to swish the wine in the glass (without spilling it) to impart the aroma to air in the glass. The usually tapered opening keeps the ...


22

The flavor / odor notes you're experiencing are probably sulfuric compounds. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower contain sulfiric compounds that are released on cooking. That's why the stir-fried crisp-tender broccoli tastes so different from the limp overcooked olive green florets. Similar to how spicy salsa fresca grows ever spicier after ...


21

There are a variety of factors at work here: Freezing foods "improperly" (i.e. not flash-frozen, not vacuum-sealed) causes ice crystals to form within the food, damaging the molecular structures. This is what causes many frozen leftovers to become "mushy" or change in texture. Again due to the formation of ice and the movement of water when the food is ...


20

This is a really difficult topic to approach, and I think the only reliable way to identify flavours is through years and years of practice using those flavours in your cooking. To start with, I think the easiest thing to do would be to understand the different types of flavours. Those are: Sweet Everybody knows this one. Sweet is the taste of sugar, ...


20

One thing that my mother suggested to me when I first started getting interested in learning to cook beyond blindly following a recipe was that I try making scrambled eggs with one single spice in them to see how that flavor affects the taste of something I know well. It's actually a pretty good way to train your tastebuds to understand what flavor a ...


20

I would assume that this depends highly on the exact source of the aroma/smell. One extreme is the highly volatile components of essential oils found in many fruits, berries, spices and herbs, which are the main source of their respective aromas or smells. It is easily observed that especially spices and dried herbs loose their aroma over time, which is ...


20

There is a grain of truth in the claim that flash-freezing beef "seals in flavour". If meat (or anything else) is frozen slowly, large ice crystals form. These puncture the cells, resulting in a mushy texture when the food is thawed. But, because a lot of the cells have burst, all their contents can drain out, too, so you're going to lose flavour. However, ...


18

Cooking causes certain chemical reactions within the food being cooked, many of which produce (and consume) compounds which have various flavours. I don't know the real specifics, but I can outline why your two cases are different, and you can verify it visually. If you take a potato, cut it up and boil it, it stays pale. The texture changes to become much ...


18

As a onion-lover I suggest using a similar vegetable instead of onions themselves. Try with leek, it has a lighter flavour than onion. Cook it in the same way. Another option would be shallot, which has a stronger presence but is different. In some soups or salads, also dried onion is a viable option, as you can add it directly on the servings. I would ...


17

@Adam A is close -- it's not an issue of surface area on potency, it's an issue of damage to the garlic. The 'strong' taste of garlic comes from a reaction as chemicals are released so they can mix (alliin and alliinase) When you cook the garlic whole (as you would for roasted garlic), you will never get this reaction, as you'll break down the chemicals. ...


17

For pastas at least, the noodles have a chance to absorb more flavor directly into the bland noodles. Same with potatoes in stews. If the dish cools and is then reheated, more water is lost into the air. This effectively reduces the dish and intensifies flavors.


17

The Umami information Center has a list of Umami-rich foods along with natural concentrations of glutamate. I've copied some of their list below (included some meats for comparison) in case the link disappears (concentration number is mg glutamate/100g food). There's also some information at the above link about how to prepare the foods to maximize the ...


17

According to my research, the effect of capsaicin that causes the burning sensation is indirectly responsible for the pleasurable release of endorphins, which are the brain's way of counter-acting the pain sensation. If you don't feel any burn, then you probably haven't consumed enough capsaicin to trigger the endorphin rush. This source from Northwestern ...


16

Summary for the Quick Reader Only the shape and size of the grains really makes a difference. Otherwise, salt is salt. What makes a difference between salts? There are only two real differentiators between different types of salt (assuming the product is essentially just salt, and not a seasoning blend): The mineral or other impurities resulting from ...


16

If the recipes were truly interesting in 'releasing the flavors', they'd be sweating the onions, not sauteing them. Sauté is a higher-heat method that will cook the vegetables to create other chemical compounds, thus changing their flavor. In the case of garlic and onions, this cooking makes them dramatically sweeter. But sometimes you don't want that -- ...


15

Slice a raw potato and add it to the over-salted sauce. As it cooks it'll draw in the salty liquid. You may need to add more liquids to keep the sauce from drying out.


15

Cream usually takes the edge off of spiciness, but it depends on the type of spice, and obviously on whether you can add anything creamy to the dish. For Thai food (for example) if you request that the curry be mild, they'll just dump in some more coconut milk.


15

In the Good Eats episode "Stew Romance", Alton Brown says See, as gelatin cools, it moves from a suspended colloidal state to a gel state, which if concentrated, can be quite strong. [...] And that is why our meat gets pretty hard when it cools down. Now, what’s really interesting, though, is that once gelatin has reached the gel state, it ...


14

I've noticed that salty food has somewhat of an addictive quality; people who eat a lot of it (i.e. fast food or other processed food) tend to bury their meals under a mountain of salt, whereas people such as myself who do a lot of home cooking hardly use (or want) any. "Season to taste" means pretty much what it sounds like; add however much salt (and ...


14

Yes, it is different. Two things happen: the dissolved oxygen boils out, and whatever mineral solids are in there become concentrated as steam evaporates.


14

It sounds like most of those ingredients came out of metal cans, yes? Certainly the spinach and carrots, and I imagine the beans, tomato paste, and possibly the apple sauce? Canned foods do sometimes have a slight metallic taste, especially if you don't use them all at once and continue to store them in the can after opening it: (about.com) However, I ...


14

You don't specify that you're looking for a natural source, so consider that Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is basically nothing but a concentrated dose of umami (which is defined by a relatively high level of L-Glutamates). It's not too difficult to find, especially if there's a bulk food store near you. You can also find it marketed as Accent seasoning (MSG ...



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