No, I am not tripping, nor am I advocating you do anything similar. I’m talking about using acid as a food enhancer.
I once worked with a very talented chef, who although I suspect was probably high half the time, taught me a few things about acid and flavors.
Chef explained that when food tasted ‘flat’, it could usually use salt or more often than not, a bit of acid. At first I was perplexed by this statement, but I learned what my chef was trying to teach me.
The kitchen crew would be busy preparing dishes for service, cooks heavy with tasks and items to prep and complete. Chef would routinely come on line to sample the food, sipping sauces, dressings, tasting our recent projects.
Chef would then yay or nay our progress, asking questions about recipes used. Ultimately I would hear the following sentences often enough, I began to understand the process of ingredients, chemistry and their dance together.
When properly used, acid enhances the natural flavors in the food you are preparing. It won’t alter the dish so much, but it gives it punch. It has this wonderful ability to give foods another layer of flavor. This I learned, could turn a mediocre meal into a party in the mouth.
Let me give you a few examples that will make good foods taste even better. Chances are you already have a few, if not all these goodies in your pantry or fridge right now. The following list is a sample of what I call my “Arsenal of Flavors.”
This is only a sampling of acids I recommend, but this will get you started. They are extremely versatile and demonstrate the beauty of key flavors. Hopefully, they will transform your meals, get you cooking more and enjoying great food!
- Citrus juice and their zest (orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit)
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Spanish Sherry Vinegar
- Champagne Vinegar
- Rice Wine Vinegar
- Red and White Wines
- Some liquors and cordials such as Sake, Tequila, Port and Brandy
- Pernod or Dry Vermouth
- Soy Sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
Here is a recipe I am using tonight which incorporates acid in a marinade, a great example which will impart maximum flavor versus just throwing the damn bird on the grill. No love or respect. Without further adieu, I give you:
Love and Respect Marinade for Grilled Chicken
This marinade would also work well for shrimp, scallops, various cuts of fish and pork. Tonight I’m using 1 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. This marinate makes about 1 cup, enough for up to 2 or 3 pounds of meat.
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- a few dashes of hot sauce
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Combine all ingredients in a measuring cup. Stir completely and pour over meat, chicken or seafood. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour, turning halfway if you remember.
Remove meat from marinade and season with salt. Discard marinade. Grill chicken thighs over indirect heat until cooked through, about 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes.
I am grilling the chicken tonight because it is still hotter than the be-jesus over here. I suppose you could broil the chicken, or saute, but I think a marinade and summer should require an outdoor cooking vessel.
Speaking of which, time to stop blogging, and get cooking.