Most of you probably know that the scientific and culinary communities recognize five distinct flavor molecules: sweet, salt, acid, bitter and umami (savory). Some scientists argue that we have separate taste receptors for fat, starch and astringency as well, but these are yet to be confirmed. A full-flavored dish will often incorporate all five of the basic flavors, and a trained chef knows how to manipulate the ingredients so the flavors complement each other in just the right way.
We do not have to be trained chefs to use flavors for our benefit. A few years ago, I was reading Sara Britton’s (My New Roots) cookbook where she talked about the “Holy Trinity of Flavor” (salt, sugar, acid). Applying this principle to my cooking completely transformed my dishes! Over the years, I added “fat” to my list because I think it creates an essential richness.
So here it is, my formula for creating THE most flavorful dish: FASS
- Fat (not yet recognized as a unique flavor): extra virgin olive oil (EVOO); coconut oil; grapeseed oil; etc.
- Acid: vinegar; lemon juice, tomatoes; etc.
- Sweet: honey (because of a change in the molecular structure at high temperatures, honey loses its sweetness; only use at lower temperatures); pure maple syrup; bananas; etc.
- Salt: pink Himalayan salt, tamari or soy sauce; etc.
Optional for savory cooking: add an aromatic (onion, garlic, ginger, shallot, etc.)
Example: When I make tomato sauce I always use canned crushed tomatoes (acid); onions and garlic (aromatics); pink Himalayan salt (salt); EVOO (fat); and coconut sugar (sweet). All it takes is a couple teaspoons of sugar to soften the bite of the acidic tomatoes.
Have you ever tried this method when you are cooking? Do you have another method that you like to use?