Sometimes we make mistakes while cooking, especially if you are like me and you don’t do the recipe thing. If you are a fly-by-the-seat kind of cook or even if you do recipes and you just made a whoopsies, or you taste test your food and you decide that you don’t like the flavor, what do you do? Well you definitely don’t pout, begrudgingly finish cooking it, and then depressingly serve it to your family all upset like cause it didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to….. not that I’m speaking from experience….
Here are some of the things I’d do to fix my food.
Simple simple right off the top. Too sweet? Add sour. Too sour? Add sweet. Add some lemon juice or vinegar. You’ve got rice vinegar, white wine, balsamic, apple cider (though I’ll be honest I am not a fan of apple cider vinegar and I don’t use it, but to each their own!). On the sweet side you have honey, syrup, sugar (brown or cane) depending on the dish. Salt also works for dulling down that sweet taste and as with anything really, when it comes to seasoning add a little at a time and taste taste taste as you cook. The point would be to add enough just too fix the flavor not to make it turn the other way. Other wise you end up just adding sweet, then sour, than sweet, that sour, until you end up with a dish made entirely of lemons and honey.
Too Spicy? Find those sweet guys again or add some acidity (like lemons! Always lemons! Love lemons!) You could also add something creamy like coconut or almond milk, greek yogurt, or sour cream depending on the dish! Put some lemon or a little bowl of something creamy at the table for people to add extra to their dish if they wish! I know in our home every ones idea of spicy is different, but we all like it to one degree or another (If you’re my oldest that degree is not-at-all, if you’re Jeff its the degree of a thousand fiery suns)
Too bitter? Go back to your sweetness, a little sweetness will fix anything! OK not really. But yes try adding a little sweet OR add a little salt! Remember “TO TASTE”. Resist the urge to add “UNTIL YOU TASTE IT” you are not trying to make the dish salty, or sweet for that matter, you are just trying to make it NOT bitter.
DID YOU MAKE IT TOO SALTY WITH ALL THAT SALT YOU ADDED FIXING THE SWEET YOU ADDED FROM FIXING ALL THE OTHER FLAVORS? …. it happens OK…. Salt is a tough flavor to fix I’ll be honest, and also fixing the flavor wont reduce the sodium content either, which is why you HAVE to taste as you go, you’ll be less likely to make this boo boo if you do. BUT here are some things I usually do when I’ve been too heavy handed in the salt department.
If it’s a soup, chili, or another sort of liquid-ey or saucy dish try adding a half of a potato! That starchy little life saver does a fabulous job of soaking up and defusing salty flavors. Of course you can also try adding more liquid/water, just remember it will also dilute your other flavors (which maybe might not be a bad thing?). If it is a soup you could add some unsalted broth, or a no-salt bouillon cube with extra water, as this will obviously dilute the salty taste at the same time as adding flavor so you don’t end up with an overly watered down bland dish. Otherwise you can try counteracting the salt with some sweet or you can just add more ingredients (food ingredients not the spice or herb kind) to balance things out and spread out the amount of salt with more volume. (That last guy should actually work with correcting most flavor problems.)
By and large though, when you get to cookin, the most important thing in flavor fixin is preventing the whoopsies to begin with. Also obviously I assume that you wont be standing over the stove pouring honey over lemon juice over salt over chili flakes, I would asssssuuuummmmeeee you are experiencing these flavor issues in isolated or individual dishes and not all at once. I also can not promise you that your food will magically taste of culinary genius, but as with most things in life practice makes perfect! Just remember to add a little amount at a time, taste as you go, and if it turns into a completely different dish than you had originally planned just give it a different name and away you go! (the beauty of fly-by-your-seat-cooking!)
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