On Friday evening I had an amazing meal at Riverford Field Kitchen, probably my favorite restaurant and better than any Michelin Stared place I've had the pleasure of feeling uncomfortable in. The place simply wins due to the incredible food, everything else is average. The food simply wins due to the incredible flavor, everything else is average, meaning presentation etc.
But this got me thinking about flavor and how you can make weak food taste good. When I'm at work and a soup a bit bland, we add more salt & pepper, if that doesn't work we add some bouillon, if we're still not hitting the flavor zone, we blend in more fresh herbs, raw garlic, extra virgin olive oil, a bit of sugar and lots of lemon juice. And bang, flavor! It never fails. This is a picture of me in the kitchen looking all smug about the great tasting soup.
When cooking at home I love big flavor and I feel there is no excuse for my food to be bland, my Scottish grandmother would detest my food if she was still alive, to give her credit, she gave me a great introduction to whole foods, but she didn't like any sort of richness. I suppose my food could be criticised for it's lack of subtlety, but I'm the most important critic when it comes to tasting, so everyone can go and eat elsewhere if they don't like it.
To bang some balls in your broth you need a good balance!
Saltiness - lots of good sea salt, butter, OXO cubes or real stock, soy, fish sauce, Marigold Swiss Bouillon (although it makes everything taste the same), anchovies, capers, cheese or bacon.
Acidity - lemon or lime (added at the end of cooking), vinegar, wine, tomato.
Sweetness - sugar, honey, sweated onions or other veg like carrots, leeks or celery, cream or coconut milk, butternut squash, sweet potato, peas or any sweet veg.
Heat - pepper, chili (powder or fresh), ginger, wasabi, horse radish, hot smoked paprika or various spice blends
Added flavor - more butter, a small amount of raw garlic (1/2 a clove) made into a paste, olive oil, fresh herbs (coriander, parsley, basil, tender thyme tips nothing too woody).
Experiment and enjoy.