The Confident Kitchen Series
Are you familiar with the word tweaking? The term “tweaking” is sometimes used in technological communication, but chefs have used the expression as part of their kitchen terminology for years to describe the path they take to perfect flavours. This is called a Tweaking: A Study in Flavour Amendment.
During a recent cooking class, one of the students asked the question, “What do I do to flavour my food if it needs a little ‘something-something’? I don’t know where to start to fix it and what would I use to fix it?” The other students joined the conversation by asking, “what do I do if my dish is too salty, too sweet, or ends up being too bland?”
The focus of this article is to address these questions in a number of practical ways; for example, the proper use of seasonings such as salt and pepper and more sophisticated ones such as smoked paprika or reductions. I will discuss how to “tweak” a dish until it is pleasing to your taste.
The three most important steps in developing flavours are:
- taste and then,
- taste again”.
This process is often ignored until the dish is finished and on the table. In professional kitchens, the tasting ritual is encouraged by having containers of fresh spoons available for the cooks and executive chef for continual tastings while food is being prepared. It is an important element in cooking and one that is stressed in good kitchens.
My husband is the tweaker in our family. He has the refined palate of a ‘saucier’ – one of the most important and coveted roles in a professional kitchen. When tasting, they can readily identify what the dish needs in order to balance the flavours. They understand what sour, sweet, or acidic addition would correct, enhance or brighten the flavour of a dish. If the balances of sour, sweet and acid in the dish are not in harmony, it is difficult to bring the flavours of the dish together….