It’s all about simplicity, work on three key elements to a dish, and don’t complicate it. The most important element to master are your flavour matches.
The more flavours you combine, the harder you have to work to balance them all. Further, the more competing flavours you have, the more you have to take care that the primary flavours of the main ingredients don’t get lost. Here are my top tips.
Season boldly. Think black pepper, salt, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, pesto, herbs, garlic, onion, mustard, zest, ginger, chilli and alcohol (wines, liqueurs and fortified)
Use flavourful cooking liquids – think good chicken and veal stocks, master stocks, wine, avoid water.
Make it tangy – try zests, finger lime caviar, tamarind, lime and mango pickles, pickled vegetables, soy, capers, gherkins and sherry, balsamic and wine vinegar
Vinaigrette is your friend – as a base ingredient vinaigrette will make it better, as pesto, ginger, chili, herbs, etc and you have a base sauce for hot and cold dishes. Pan fry chicken, rest and slice, roll in a flavoured vinaigrette and a vegetable garnish or two and you have a quick meal
Be gentle – treat your ingredients like to you would a lady, gently, slowly and with respect.
Classic flavour combinations
These are just a few of the many traditional flavour combinations from around the world. Keep in mind that, although only one or two combinations are given for each country or region mentioned, they are not the only combinations used there. These are merely examples to stimulate your thinking.
- Sour cream, paprika, caraway (Hungary)
- Sour cream or mustard, dill (Scandinavia)
- Caraway, onion, vinegar (Germany)
- Apples, apple cider or apple brandy, cream (France—Normandy)
- Shallot, garlic, parsley (France—Burgundy)
- Tomato, basil, olive oil (Italy)
- Olive oil, garlic, anchovy (Italy)
- Lemon, oregano (Greece)
- Cinnamon, nuts, honey (eastern and southern Mediterranean, Middle East)
- Ginger, onion, garlic (India)
- Fish sauce (nam pla), lemon grass, chiles (Thailand)
- Ginger, soy sauce (Japan)
- Soy sauce, sake or mirin, dried bonito (Japan)
- Ginger, garlic, scallion (China)