Testing new flavors

by Donna Berry
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Chefs share their favorite go-to ingredients and techniques for creating flavorful, on-trend dressings, marinades and sauces.

What’s the next sriracha? Named after the city of Si Racha in Thailand, the condiment, with its profile of heat and a touch of sweet, has changed the way consumers view and use hot sauce. It has also sparked the race for innovation in the pourable food topping category — dressings, marinades and sauces — and has product developers turning to a new set of ingredients for innovative recipe and formulation ideas.

The third dimension

“It is not enough to be spicy hot. Be three dimensional,” said Judson McLester, executive chef and ingredient sales manager, McIlhenny Co., Avery Island, La. “For example, think chamoy, which I prepare by combining smoky ancho chiles with apricot preserves, lime juice and salt.

“My favorite marinade is one for skirt steak, where I combine lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, salt and Tabasco chipotle sauce. The brightness of the lime juice keeps the cilantro and garlic tasting fresh, while the Tabasco chipotle instills a smooth, smoky note with a mild heat.”

Smoky, as well as earthy flavors, are increasingly making their way into the condiment aisle. This includes paprika blends, white peppercorn and toasted coriander seed, according to Rob Jensen, founder of Jensen’s Kitchen LLC, Syosset, N.Y.

Most culinologists have their favorite flavor ingredients. Some will always work a little soy sauce into a recipe, while others swear by cracked peppercorn. For Guy Meikle, corporate chef, Mizkan America Inc., Mount Prospect, Ill., that would be garlic confit.

“Garlic confit adds body, sweetness, richness and roasted notes, successfully rounding out almost any dish, sauce, cream, vinaigrette or dressing,” he said.

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