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Old 01-11-2015, 10:04 AM   #1
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Question Help me to understand - "Taste Balance"

I watch many tv cooking shows, like :The Taste", they always talk about taste, balance, acidity. I guess my question, can anyone explain the taste balance or how acidity fits in. That's the best way I can explain my question.

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Old 01-11-2015, 10:27 AM   #2
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The balance they talk about is to introduce ingredients that compliment other flavors. The addition of an acidic ingredient will often brighten up dull flavors. Sugar is used regularly in Asian recipes to offset heat.

This isn't done because you've gone overboard with one seasoning and need to save a dish but because the combination is better than either component.

But, if a dish is too acidic, a common problem with tomato sauces, other ingredients are used to offset that acidity. Some use sugar, others add ingredients with natural sugars.
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Old 01-11-2015, 11:51 AM   #3
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Thanks Andy, that helps a lot.
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:52 PM   #4
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Andy nailed it, sauce is a big one, I simply add sugar and I like a sweet sauce so never have to worry about the skin in my mouth peeling off, lol. A friend of mine used to have a chef that taught me a lot, he made one of the most amazing sauces I ever tasted, it tasted like he used a super tomato, BUT no acid... He explained to me how to do it and I tried but failed, it was a while back and he soon opened his own restaurant 2 states away, but if I remember correctly, he used to peel the toms, saute them down a bit and spray a baking soda solution over them every few minutes, then wash and start his sauce, with no sugar, just sweet onions that he liquified and added when the sauce was almost complete...

He never gave me the complete recipe, or anyone I know for that fact, and he didn't make the sauce for my buddies restaurant {they already had their own sauces for years so they werent changing anything}.
Man I wish I got that recipe...
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Old 01-11-2015, 08:19 PM   #5
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I'm not a fan of sweet tomato sauce so, when I make a tomato sauce, I sweat onions and garlic. The onions provide some natural sweetness. I add tomato paste and sauté that until it starts to stick to the pan - more sweetness. Then I proceed with the recipe. Near the end, I taste the sauce, if it's too acidic, I add a bit of baking soda and stir it in well then test it. I add more if needed. You have to take it slow.

When baking soda is combined with an acid, it breaks down to carbon dioxide, water and salt. You see the bubbles as soon as you stir the soda in. You don't taste it in the sauce.
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Old 03-01-2015, 08:32 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callmaker60 View Post
I watch many tv cooking shows, like :The Taste", they always talk about taste, balance, acidity. I guess my question, can anyone explain the taste balance or how acidity fits in. That's the best way I can explain my question.
Hey Callmaker -

Balancing tastes goes hand in hand with the concept of "building layers of flavor"

Here's an excerpt from a recent article I wrote that explains how lemon juice makes food "sparkle"

When I was a culinary instructor I would tell my students that lemon juice makes food “Sparkle.” You see, most of the foods that we eat are very rich – meaning that they have a lot of fat in them. By adding lemon juice you are adding “High Notes” to a dish, creating complexity, adding a new dynamic.

You don’t need to stick to just lemon juice either. Depending on the situation there could be any number of different acids that you can add to food to make it sparkle. Tomatoes, Vinegar and citrus juices for example.


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Old 03-01-2015, 09:56 AM   #7
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Is what you all are saying relate or is part of the same as umami?

Is this the reason that recipes say to add a squirt of lemon to things such as apple pie or rhubarb dishes. Both are already tart flavored, and a squirt isn't going to keep apples from turning brown if they weren't cooked right away.

Maybe this is why I like to frequently add lemon to broccoli or asparagus or green beans. Here I thought it was the butter that made these taste better! A simple toss with lemon-butter is good. Maybe I should add a titch of salt. I use salted butter, which doesn't have much salt on a per serving but may not be enough to bring out that part of the choir to make it really stand-out. I don't add table salt when served.

I don't add salt in cooking dishes, esp if there are herbs included to flavor a dish. Maybe I should re-introduce a little salt that might bring its flavor over the top.

If I make a savory eggy custard dish, such as a quiche or corn pudding I add a few shakes Tabasco, not enough to make it hot or even discernable. I think it just brightens up a dish. Maybe I should add a little to a scramble egg, and compare as Chef Ian suggests in his article. I almost always have lemons or limes on hand too. On the other hand, I would not add Tabasco to a custard pudding or flan. I made zabaglione recently, added nothing to the custard to brighten it. I did add 3 heaping tablespoons Amaretto. I thought that was the flavor being created, not to brighten up the custard, which it certainly did as well.
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Old 03-01-2015, 10:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiskadoodle View Post
Is what you all are saying relate or is part of the same as umami?

Is this the reason that recipes say to add a squirt of lemon to things such as apple pie or rhubarb dishes. Both are already tart flavored, and a squirt isn't going to keep apples from turning brown if they weren't cooked right away.

Maybe this is why I like to frequently add lemon to broccoli or asparagus or green beans. Here I thought it was the butter that made these taste better! A simple toss with lemon-butter is good. Maybe I should add a titch of salt. I use salted butter, which doesn't have much salt on a per serving but may not be enough to bring out that part of the choir to make it really stand-out. I don't add table salt when served.

I don't add salt in cooking dishes, esp if there are herbs included to flavor a dish. Maybe I should re-introduce a little salt that might bring its flavor over the top.

If I make a savory eggy custard dish, such as a quiche or corn pudding I add a few shakes Tabasco, not enough to make it hot or even discernable. I think it just brightens up a dish. Maybe I should add a little to a scramble egg, and compare as Chef Ian suggests in his article. I almost always have lemons or limes on hand too. On the other hand, I would not add Tabasco to a custard pudding or flan. I made zabaglione recently, added nothing to the custard to brighten it. I did add 3 heaping tablespoons Amaretto. I thought that was the flavor being created, not to brighten up the custard, which it certainly did as well.

As you've discovered, certain additions bring out the flavors of a dish. Adding lemon juice is certainly one of those.

Don't turn your back on adding salt to a dish while you're cooking. As with lemon juice, it brings out the flavors of the other ingredients.

The most dramatic example I can think of involves a coconut curry spice mix I bought in Aruba a few years ago. I used it in a dish when we got home. First taste was very disappointing. It just had no flavor. I added a little salt and it tasted better. More salt, more better. It ended up being a very tasty dish simply with the addition of salt.

Similar story for a blueberry sauce I was making for cheesecake. Tasted good. Added some lemon juice and WOW. Tasted like fresh blueberries!

The key is to add enough to enrich the flavors of the dish without adding so much the taste of the lemon/salt takes over the dish.

Umami is the taste of savory foods. There are several ingredients that enhance umami. Mushrooms, soy sauce, tomato paste and anchovies to name a few.
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Old 03-01-2015, 03:59 PM   #9
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Just to add a little more info to what Andy said:

Umami is actually a flavor. It was really only talked about in Asian cuisines, but we would call it "Savory"

A lot of times it is expanded to include "Fatty" as well.

So so examples of Umami would be: Fish Sauce, Anchovies, Butter, Avocados, Bacon, Chicken Broth.
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Old 03-01-2015, 04:40 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by callmaker60 View Post
I watch many tv cooking shows, like :The Taste", they always talk about taste, balance, acidity. I guess my question, can anyone explain the taste balance or how acidity fits in. That's the best way I can explain my question.
It's just "I'm cleverer than you" speak for "season to taste" ie Your taste,
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