Why Use Flavor Combinations?
My seven favorite flavor combinations serve a specific purpose in my kitchen – to make cooking on the fly easier. They are ingrained into my head and make whipping up a meal effortless. I only have to decide which places I wish to delve into. I draw inspiration from regions worldwide, and I am always looking to add a new favorite to the list.
These combinations are well balanced and easily adjustable to my mood, accomplishments, or the items being prepared. Mostly, they lose guides to build upon. When balancing flavors, I use several elements, such as salt, savory, sweet, bitter, sour, and spicy. There are several official flavor profiles that are combined with smell and texture that make a meal feel satisfying.
This is one reason having a well stock panty is very helpful. However, be mindful of the fact that herbs and spices have a shelf life of about six months before they start to degrade. You can get more time out of your spices if you pay them whole and grind them as needed.
Southern Italian: Tomato, fresh basil, Mediterranean oregano, fresh flat-leaf parsley and garlic (from the clove), brown onion, vodka, and a touch of sugar. Pretty much the base for all my tomato pasta sauces.
Mexican: Fresh cilantro, Mexican oregano, cumin, white onion, garlic, and chilies (fresh, dried, and ground varieties). My go-to when I want to add Mexican flavors to my dish.
Broad Chinese: Fresh ginger, garlic, green onion, sesame oil, and honey. I love this on salmon, chicken, beef short ribs, green beans, and cucumbers.
Various: Toasted and ground cumin and coriander seed, and lemon. This mixture is my favorite for baked and pan-fried white fish.
Baking: Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, clove, allspice, cardamom, brown sugar, and vanilla. This blend is fantastic on pumpkin/sweet potato and apple or pear. I adjust the amounts of each spice depending on the recipe.
Beef Flavor: Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, and garlic powder. This combo is the base for my beef burgers or burgers I want to mimic beef. I will also add mushroom powder if using ground chicken or turkey.
Poultry or Pork: Ground thyme, sage, rosemary, onion powder, mustard powder, fresh flat-leaf parsley, garlic, and paprika. This combo I use on pork chops and pork tenderloin. It is good on chicken, but I usually omit the mustard powder.
I use kosher salt and black pepper (peppercorns) in most of these flavor profiles. However, I often swap out for white or Szechuan peppercorns.