Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Asian flavours

In order to mix and match Asian flavourings it helps to arrange them in flavour families. That makes it easier to work out what to use for the effects we want to produce

Salty (essential for tasty food)
Soy sauce (salty, a bit thin flavoured on its own) oyster sauce (softer and fuller) salt (surprise!!) stock powder

Hot (for depth and balance – don’t need much, or not at all)
Chili/ sweet chili sauce, curry powder or paste (thai curry pastes only need a teaspoon or so to give a bit of zing) pepper

Acidic (cuts down and lightens heavy flavours)
Vinegars (use sparingly, they can be quite strong) lemon or lime juice or sherry or rice wine (neither of which you’re likely to have)

Honey, sugar, hoi sin (or Chinese BBQ sauce – a heavier flavor, a bit salty but predominantly sweet)

Coconut Milk (CM)– a category of its own, works to soften down flavours the way you’d use yogurt or sour cream in western cooking, but, of course, coconut flavoured (duh!)

Sesame oil (SO)– such a distinctive flavor, warm and nutty – goes well with Chinese type flavours, would be more cautious combining it with Thai

Cumin – the authentic taste of general spiciness (is also used in Mexican)
Coriander – I think it goes with everything, but that’s because it’s my favourite
Ginger – sharper and more zingy
Five spice – usually not mixed with the other spices, fragrant and unique
Garlic – a little bit is good added to most things
Lemon grass – fresh lemon flavor without the strong acidity

Possible combinations

A salty, plus an acid plus a spice or 2, either sweet or SO or neither

CM + soy + coriander + some lemon or lime + maybe sweet

CM +hot +salty +spice

Salt +spices

CM +salt +lemon grass +coriander

Salt+ acid +sweet = sweet and sour – add a spice or 2 for flavour variations

Our old classic Chinese = soy +acid +coriander +cumin +SO

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