MasterChef judge Matt Preston recently raved about a Belgian culinary website called Foodpairing, which creates new combinations of ingredients based on scientific flavour analysis. Their method is based on the principle that foods combine well with one another when they share major flavour components.
The sciency bit
A flavour is actually a chemical compound with an odour. This is why the senses of smell and taste are very closely linked (in fact, our sniffers are responsible for 80% of any taste experience). The lab researchers at Foodpairing measure an ingredient’s flavour components through a technique called chromatography and then compare those components to hundreds of other food and drink products. Those with similar flavour components are believed to be a good food match.
After measuring the flavour components, the Foodpairing pros create trees to clearly show you which ingredients go with which. You can now visit the website, type the ingredient of your choice into an internal search engine and it will display a tree, with branches leading to every other product that would complement it in a dish. The shorter the branch, the better the flavour match.
Here are a few of the whackiest food blends that work, according to Foodpairing:
• Bacon and peppermint leaves • Ginger and oysters • Banana and gruyere • Black tea and porcini mushrooms • Dark chocolate and sherry vinegar • Basmati rice and vanilla • Atlantic salmon and fresh apricot • Cucumber and whisky • Eggplant and fish sauce • Beef and oat flakes
Visit www.foodpairing.be to test out more flavour combos.