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What is food pairing and what is it for?
May 11, 2021
In the field of gastronomy there are no impossibilities for the combination of flavors and science proves it. This is how more than a decade ago, at the level of bioengineering, the concept of food pairing. Its purpose is experiment in a laboratory which foods can be best combined for an explosion of flavor.
Flavor combinations in the culinary world have been based on chefs' own experiences, but these are subjective. So the technique of food pairing aims that with the union of unthinkable ingredients flavors and aromas that taste like glory are achieved, such as chicken breasts with mousse of chocolate.
What is food pairing?
This Hervé reminds us in his book on molecular gastronomy that food contains hundreds of volatile compounds that give very characteristic aromas and flavors for each of them. Some are captured by smell, while others go unnoticed.
The food pairing It is a discipline that consists of carrying out a chemical analysis of foods to identify the molecular aromas that compose them. Laboratory equipment similar to the one that extracts aromas is used to make perfumes.
As the aromas of the food are identified, the profile of volatile compounds is established. A series of graphs are formed called food pairing trees that are simple and easy to understand.
These trees grow through their branches in different categories, such as dairy, herbs, spices, meat, among others, discovering common aromas among a wide variety of ingredients. This allows that when similar molecules are combined, the best recipes can be developed.
The more flavor compounds two foods have in common, the better their combination. A network of flavors is formed that relates each food analyzed with its possible pairs of combinations.
Also read: 6 food combinations with great health benefits
What is food pairing for?
As the magazine explains Vitae, 80% of the flavors perceived in a food enter through smell. The volatile compounds they contain mix with the taste buds of the tongue. For this reason, the molecular breakdown of aromas in food is very useful in finding the best flavor combinations.
The technique of food pairing It has become a point of reference for professional and amateur chefs who are in search of creative and surprising pairings. This type of scientific tool inspires foodies as it helps create new recipes.
You can make a cheesy fries appetizer brie, coffee and vanilla, caviar with white chocolate, baked bananas with tomato or gin ice cream with a slice of mackerel. However, despite the fact that this science allows us to predict the best ingredient mixes, it is always advisable to refine new flavors from the criteria of a good professional chef.
In general, the food pairing is a discipline that seeks to overflow gastronomic creativity and surprise with unique combinations. You can create new recipes or reinvent existing dishes by joining very different ingredients in origin, flavor and texture.
Discover: Bread with olive oil, a perfect combination
How to practice it?
The food pairing It begins with the determination of the flavor profile of a food that you want to combine with others. This is achieved with the gas chromatography technique that separates and identifies the different aromatic compounds that are present above the threshold of their specific taste.
For example, coffee contains about 700 different aromatic compounds, but only a couple of them are the ones that give the aroma. Most of these compounds are in amounts below the flavor threshold and are not perceptible to the nose.
The resulting profile is compared with a database of other foods that had their own profile previously determined. Those that have components in common with the flavor of the original ingredient are preserved.
With this information a tree of food pairing, of which they derive common branches to other foods that share the same aromas. A network of flavors is formed between different ingredients to look for coincidences or unexpected combinations, such as delicious strawberries with peas.
Since there are thousands of ingredients in the database, the food pairing classifies them by categories. In this way, we find a tree branch for dairy, another for meats, for spices and more.
A promising new technique
The food pairing turns out a interesting way to discover and create new flavors in gastronomy. In addition, it is the opportunity to merge science with the experience of cooks and achieve the fullness of flavors in the kitchen.
The importance of combining foods correctly
The proteins and fats in meat, cheese or eggs, the starches in bread and the sugars in some vegetables and fruits, or desserts, are a difficult combination to digest because they do not combine well and, therefore, represent a challenge for our body. Read more "