Sometimes the smallest details make all the difference. These are some easy tips from America’s Test Kitchen to enhance flavor in your everyday cooking.
1. Garlic and Onions should not be prepared in advance
Cut garlic and onions release strong odors and strong tastes that can become overwhelming over time. It’s best not to chop them. For raw applications, soak chopped or sliced onions in a mixture of baking soda and water (1 teaspoon per cup). This will reduce their pungency.
2. Don’t Seed Tomatoes
Seeds and the jelly surrounding them are what give most of the flavor. Don’t seed tomatoes unless you need to in a recipe that requires excessive moisture.
3. Keep Fats Tasting Fresh
Butter, oils, and nuts can turn rancid, imparting off-flavors in your cooking. To slow down the process, reduce their exposure to light and oxygen. Keep butter and nuts in the refrigerator, nut oils in your fridge, and vegetable oils in a dark pantry.
4. Only strike when the Pan is Hot
You will notice a drop in temperature as soon as food is added to the oven. Don’t rush preheating steps for most sautes. When cooking vegetables, wait for the oil to shimmer. Wait until the oil shimmers before you start to see smoke rising from the oil when cooking proteins.
5. Never throw away the fond
The caramelized brown bits stuck to the bottom of the saucepan after cooking have a savory flavor. To incorporate the fond in sauces, soups or stews, heat the pan with liquid (wine or broth, or juice).
6. Season with Sugar, Too
Brown food tastes better. You can speed up the process by adding a little sugar to lean proteins like chicken and seafood, or to vegetables.
7. Dried Herbs and Bloom Spices in Fat
Cook ground spices and dried herbs for a few minutes in butter or oil to intensify their flavor. Then add liquid to the saucepan. When the vegetables are almost cooked, add the spices to any sauteing aromatics (such as onions).
8. Pastries, pie, and brown breads
Browning is the key to flavor. Don’t let your breads, pies or cakes cool down until they are deep golden brown. To track the color development of pies, we bake them all on a glass plate. We lift the bottom of puff pastry and other flaky dough to check for even browning.
9. A little umami or savories can be added
Glutamates are high in soy sauce and anchovies, which gives dishes a meaty, savory flavor. You can add a teaspoon of soy sauce to your chili or stir-fry a few anchovies with the vegetables.
10. Use Fresh Herbs at the Perfect Time
Hardy herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sage can be added to dishes at an early stage of the cooking process. This allows them to release maximum flavor while making it less intrusive. For delicate herbs such as parsley, cilantro and chives, save them for the very last minute. They will lose their bright colors and fresh flavor.