Ok, before we start lets get your head around the basics of seasoning. There are four ways to season.
This is easiest to see in Asian cooking, but look for these building blocks and you will see them in every jar in your cupboard, on every shelf in your fridge. Seriously, open your cupboard and decide which category every thing falls into sweet, sour, salt or spice. Or if it is balanced.Don't just look at it, TASTE IT! then decide. Then look at their ingredients and see these same four building blocks with in them. (Don’t stress if the whole four seasonings are not present in each. Its just a learning exercise)
Consider this every time you make anything from a marinade, salad, sauce, dressing or sandwich and you will see the creative possibilities open up every time you explore your refrigerator or pantry. It makes experimenting easy and fun, allowing you to throw away the culinary rule book.
- That’s why everyone loves tomato sauce on hot chips. Its full of vinegar (sour), sugar (sweet), concentrated tomato (spice) and your pour it all over salty chips.
- Take Japanese. Sushi rice has sugar and vinegar to season it (sweet & sour), dipped in soy (salt) mixed with wasabi (spice). Pickled ginger the same. Vinegar, sugar salt and the ginger is spicy on its own.
- How about Italian, Carbonara Sauce. Bacon (salty) cream/onion/garlic (sweet) Parmesan (sour) and lashings of cracked pepper for spice.
- Mash potato, cream (sweet), butter (sweet/sour), salt and pepper to taste.
You can balance these or let one shine through. You might like a balanced mash with steak, but something a little sour with fish or lamb. How??? Find something sour for goodness sake, what ever that may be. A squeeze of lemon, sour cream instead of regular, sun dried tomato, sumac spice!!! Go through what is in you cupboard and play. There is no wrong answer here.
- Thai Curries. Coconut milk (sweet), lime juice (sour), fish sauce & soy sauce (salt), chili fresh herbs (spice).
- Indian gets interesting, sweet, salty and sour spices building on each other. Finished with yogurt (sour) or coconut milk (sweet) and on and on and on.
- Vinaigrette. Vinegar or Lemon juice (sour) Dijon mustard (spice) Extra Virgin Olive Oil (sweet) and salt. That is why you are always being told to buy good olive oil. Because the good stuff is sweet, grassy and with depth to balance the sour and spice.
- Bruschetta or tomato on toast. Tomato (sweet/sour) Bread (sweet) Butter/Olive oil (sweet/sour) Cracked pepper& basil (spice) Salt
your balance between these elements. If some thing is sour, add sweet.
Too salty, add sweet and sour.
Bland, add salt or a little of the four.
The Dali Lama said cook with blind abandon so go to it, relax. You get this and then you're on your way, you will only get better and more experimental.
Why am I telling you this. Because recipes are guidelines at best, you're using different ingredients to writers of recipes, maybe your lemons are sourer than theirs, so you’ll need to adjust for that. How to adjust for sour? add sweet……its all up to you.
Now get in there and play!
Ciao, Tchüsse, Doie