Basics of experimenting in the kitchen

Here’s what I’ve got to say to people who wish to tinker around in the kitchen more often.

Taste is not one-dimensional

So there’s sour right? but the tang of calamansi can never be the same as vinegar. When we talk about Filipino dips for barbecue, you think of garlic and vinegar with a kick care of siling labuyo and red onions right? Once I saw calamansi seeds in the vinegar dip of a barbecue stand in a street corner (isawan sa kanto) so I tried it at home and boy was I surprised of the difference! My point here is that sometimes a taste can be complemented by the same taste.

Fresh wins

When I was younger a lot of my kitchen adventures made use of canned goods, processed foods and insta-meals partly because that’s what was available and partly because I didn’t know any better so when I started trying out fresh goods, it was already the best thing that ever happened. You don’t even have to be a good cook. If it’s fresh, it’s good! Can you compare canned green peas alongside fresh ones? No. You think fresh tuna can be contested by those salty canned ones? You think garlic can ever be replaced by garlic powder? I didn’t think so.

Get to know ‘em condiments and spices

If the only thing you experiment with is Knorr seasoning, black and white pepper, Italian seasoning, oyster sauce and banana ketchup, Houston, we have a problem. These are what I call restrictions. Try both dry and fresh. Try a foreign spice every so often. Don’t let anything discourage you from trying a new one. For instance I’ve hated lemon grass in my tea, in my soup and in my stew until I found out it’s what they use as marinade for roasting pork and chicken. Suddenly lemon grass is fantastic. You can always surf for ideas or ask people who do overtime in the kitchen for tips and cheats.

Perfect fusion

Among the 5, this is the hardest to achieve. Perfect fusion for me is when your adobo tastes like adobo. What I mean is that it does not taste sour from the vinegar. It does not taste salty from the salt and soy sauce you added. The laurel leaf does not overpower everything else and the amount of black pepper does not make your tongue itch. It’s a simple dish with simple ingredients but it’s pretty hard to master. Perfectly infused tastes is what makes a dish.

A secret

What is a secret? It can be oatmeal used as breading, lime zest in your dessert, pureed mango in your pasta, the chili in your cocoa, cinnamon in your coffee, the coconut in your shrimp fried rice, the basil in your stir-fried veggies, the rosemary in your roasted meats or even the basic lemon in your fried fish. A secret can be the presentation, the serving size or the entire menu. It can be that extra bit, a flavor, a texture, a color, a perfect beverage, a feeling, a thought or even that rolled newspaper beside the breakfast tray. A secret can be one thing but it can mean everything.


I gotta love the enthusiasm! First post for year 2013. Cheers!