Here is an example. In the book is a recipe for coconut shrimp with chickpeas and basil. The first version I made when developing this recipe was rich in fat and rich (coconut milk will do), and the last dish tastes nice. To fix it, I shocked the sambal and added honey to balance some fat and spice with the sweetness. A large squeeze of lemon brings out all the flavors already there more.
3. Texture assessment
Flavor isn’t one-dimensional – it’s not just about the taste of something but also about the mouth feel and the overall eating experience. When you add ingredients to make the dish taste better, consider what they bring to the table in terms of composition, not just flavor.
Ask yourself: Is the plate monoset? Could you use a little bit of contrast? What quick fix items do you have that might add some dimension? Open your pantry and look for nuts and seeds, toast, breadcrumbs, nuts, chips, and other high-texture things that often solve the problem (this is where all the bits of spray in my book come in). But texture doesn’t just mean adding crunch, it can also mean things that are slippery and chewable, or something soft and smooth. Maybe your soup needs a hard-boiled silken egg or your salad with sharp cheese like halloumi.
4. Get a second opinion (if you can), make adjustments, and keep going
It also helps get an acoustic panel. Getting a second opinion (my husband) can get off the plate and eat it without any emotional attachment is incredibly valuable. So if you are not sure if the dish needs more salt, more honey, some texture, or something else, ask whom you are cooking for! I’m sure they have ideas …
When all else fails, the spices I eat the most now are sour cream (it’s really greasy and delicious at the same time – people just don’t give it enough credit) and totally crisp chili Spicy Mamas. I put it in every rice bowl, egg and vegetable plate and name it Daily. Add enough of that to accidentally dehydrated salmon slices and no one will be the wiser.
Get the book!
Adapted from “Cook this book.” Copyright © 2021 by Molly Baz. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.