WHEN IT COMES TO EATING HEALTHFULLY AND PREPARING NUTRITIOUS MEALS, THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT IS FLAVOUR. IF THE FOOD DOESN’T TASTE GOOD, WHY EAT IT?
Good cooking, be it healthy or not, is all about getting maximum flavour from the dishes we make. Because, let’s face it, the health benefits of certain foods alone are not always enough to keep us coming back for more. We want to enjoy our food, too.
When you develop great flavours at every step in the process, you can change tasteless, colourless, “healthy” food into dishes that showcase colour, texture, and aroma. Making a dish flavourful and interesting can be as simple as introducing a new ingredient or cooking technique. Ruby red pomegranate seeds, deep purple eggplant, brilliant orange scallopini and pumpkins, vibrant greens, and a rainbow of chillies are just a few of the exciting foods that can add intense flavour and flair to everyday meals.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FLAVOUR
Flavour is nothing if not subjective. What one person thinks is delicious another considers anything but, and what you perceive as much too salty or spicy may be “just right” to some one else.
Despite our tendency to keep flavour and nutrition separate, they are inextricably linked. Sweet foods like fruits and honey supply calories and energy. Savoury foods tend to be good sources of protein, vital for growth and development. Tart and sour foods are often rich in vitamins essential to good overall health.
Flavour is composed of many elements, which makes it distinct in some ways from the related term, taste. Taste has to do with specific sensory experiences of food that occur primarily in the moth, like sweet, sour, salty, bitter, unami ( a Japanese word that means “deliciousness”), and possibly others, whereas flavour includes our total sensory experience: taste, smell, texture, appearance, and touch.
While every cook is limited by a variety of factors, including the seasons, ingredients, and cost, it is in the act of cooking that you take control of flavour. With a few basic kitchen skills, you can turn ordinary or inexpensive ingredients into something fabulous.
One of the greatest opportunities you have for influencing flavour is through the cooking technique you select. Heat alters the chemical structure of food, breaking down cell walls, releasing flavour compounds and nutrients, and making the food more tender. Dry heat cooking techniques let you reach temperatures let you reach temperatures higher than you can with moist heat methods, and these higher temperature allow foods to brown and develop a crust. Moist heat cooking methods are typically gentler, and because the foods do not brown, their flavours tend to be simpler and more pure. For example, consider the difference between grilled or roasted (dry heat) salmon and poached (moist heat).
A food’s texture affects how its flavour is perceived as well. A silky smooth bisque and a chunky chowder may have many of the same ingredients, but the pureed soup’s flavour may be subtler than the shower’s, where each ingredient remains distinct.
Even temperature can be used to add an unexpected element to a dish. Very hot and very cold foods tend to have less discernible flavours. Foods like ice-cream, cheese, and fruit have more developed flavours if they have been allowed to sit at room temperature for awhile. At the other end of the spectrum, piping hot foods and beverages can deaden the palate. An interesting contrast can be created in a meal when hot and cold foods are served together.
USING SEASONINGS AND FLAVOURINGS
The way you choose and use seasoning and flavouring ingredients determines the ultimate flavour of the dish. Some flavouring ingredients don’t require any special monitoring, toasted or freshly ground spices and chillies add rich smoky flavours without introducing sodium or fat, and fresh herbs and aromatics like garlic, lemongrass, ginger, and lime juice add flavour but not calories.. On the other hand, high sodium foods such as salt, capers, anchovies, and olives do call for strict measuring and proper handling. Sometimes you can rinse or soak salty foods to reduce their level of sodium. In addition, you can often find low or reduced sodium versions of salty condiments like soy or tamarin sauce. salt itself should always be used properly and with care.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
To prepare appetising and healthy meals at home, select high quality ingredients, consider your cooking method, and always put flavour first. Here’s to happy, healthy eating!
RENT MY BRAIN…THE SOLUTION