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Vanilla in savory cooking


Fat Guy
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When using the raw vanilla like that you are not going to find the flavor compounds like we are used to when tasting extract or "vanilla flavored foods". The true depth and complexity will come from the cooking process, and I say it that way because I do not always mean heat, chemical cooking will help bring out the flavor as well. So the noodles and the cheese if cooked with vanilla in some compacity will begin to take on an entirely new flavor.

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Matt,

Nice explanation.

Steve,

Good try! Vanilla will enhance the natural sugars in some fruits and veggies. That is one of the reasons why it worked well with your grape.

I must admit that I would never try vanilla by itself but we have customers who buy it, grind it, and eat it raw.

What makes a good recipe is the combination of the right ingredients. If you try vanilla with butter, you might be disappointed. However, try the "Easy Sweet Orange-Vanilla Butter" on page 62 of my cookbook (Simply Vanilla); or you could make a vanilla-ginger butter to pan sear a piece of salmon (season the salmon with salt and pepper).

Also, the dish we make will determine what kind of vanilla we will use. For example, you are using Tahitian vanilla for your dishes. Tahitian vanilla has less vanillin content than the Madagascar or Mexican will have.

Mexican vanilla beans have a "chocolaty" undertone.

Madagascar vanilla beans have a "creamy/earthy" aroma.

Tahitian vanilla beans have a "fruity" aroma.

I hope this helps for your next vanilla experiment.

Keep up the good work! :biggrin:

Basic vanilla tasting

It occurred to me this morning that I've never actually tasted vanilla straight from the pod. I've tasted vanilla extract, but I imagine that flavor is heavily influenced by the alcohol and the process.

So, I split one of my Tahitian vanilla pods and scraped the little seeds into a small bowl. I then took a dab of the seeds on my finger and tasted them.

I was surprised to taste almost nothing. The vanilla had a decidedly recognizable vanilla aroma, but on the palate there wasn't much. A few seconds later, I got a tingling sensation on the tongue and a little almost black-pepper-like heat.

Trying to increase my chances of tasting something, I stuck a half of the pod in my mouth and sucked on it. Pretty much the same experience as before, but more tongue tingling and more of the vanilla floral aromas came up the mouth-nose conduit.

I then picked a few items from around the kitchen, split them in half, garnished one half with vanilla seeds and did a side-by-side tasting:

gallery_1_295_143900.jpg

That would be a slice of buttered toast, a red globe grape, a piece of Cheddar cheese (double Gloucester, actually), some leftover Vietnamese noodles from Saigon Grill, and a meatball.

The only place where the vanilla made an unequivocally positive contribution -- one I'd expect everybody to notice and approve of -- was on the red globe grape. It very much enhanced and deepened the flavor and sweetness of the grape, and added its own floral aromas.

The toast was also a little better with the vanilla, in that the vanilla had almost an MSG-like umami-enhancing influence on the butter. I think I might at some point try making a vanilla compound butter.

I couldn't even detect the vanilla on the cheese or the meatball. It might have done something with the noodles, but I wouldn't offer to prove that observation in a controlled blind tasting.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I think the "sweetness" of vanila's flavor works in a similar way to the sweetness of anise flavors: tarragon, fennel, star anise.  I'm not saying vanilla is a substitute for those flavors, but I find that savory foods that go well with those anise-y ingredients stand a good chance of working with vanilla as well.  So, it's no surprise that lobster works well with vanilla as well as with tarragon.  I wouldn't be surprised if vanilla goes well with duck.

I recently added finely ground vanilla pod , which had gotten too brittle to do anything else with, to some herbs de provence ( without Lavender ) and used it as a spice rub on some duck breasts ..

definitely took it to another level !!! and went nicely with a side of Brussels Sprouts and some celery root puree´

The recipe for Saffron Vanilla sauce on Black Sea Bass in French Laundry Cookbook was my introduction to vanilla in a savory dish, and a tremendous hit with all who've tried it.

Although whenever Ive mentioned it to non Foodie fiends, I inevitablly get the "Oh Icky~Poo " reaction as they imagine a slab of fish with a gob of vanilla ice cream on it. I cant wait to try the asparagus though...

" No, Starvin' Marvin ! Thats MY turkey pot pie "

- Cartman

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Tahitian vanilla has more aroma than taste, bourbon vanilla has a more pronounced taste. I cut vanilla pods into 1/2 inch sections and simmer them in butter if I'm making a savory vanilla dish. Using the vanilla butter to cook eggs will give you much better results than scraping the pods and expecting to extract much flavor. Peas are especially good with vanilla.

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Glad you mentioned that peas go specially well with vanilla! Two days ago, my last TV show was broadcasted in a local channel and I am blenching peas on vanilla water. Checkout a short version of the video....

http://www.azfamily.com/entertain/everyday...a.1bbb2772.html

Tahitian vanilla has more aroma than taste, bourbon vanilla has a more pronounced taste.  I cut vanilla pods into 1/2 inch sections and simmer them in butter if I'm making a savory vanilla dish.  Using the vanilla butter to cook eggs will give you much better results than scraping the pods and expecting to extract much flavor.  Peas are especially good with vanilla.

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Oh yeah! I use vanilla with fresh herbs a lot! I rarely cook with plain vegetable oil anymore. I make my own vanilla-herbed infused oil and I can smell the herbs when I'm eating my dishes. Stir fries and eggs go very well with the vanilla-herbed infused oil too!

I think the "sweetness" of vanila's flavor works in a similar way to the sweetness of anise flavors: tarragon, fennel, star anise.  I'm not saying vanilla is a substitute for those flavors, but I find that savory foods that go well with those anise-y ingredients stand a good chance of working with vanilla as well.  So, it's no surprise that lobster works well with vanilla as well as with tarragon.  I wouldn't be surprised if vanilla goes well with duck.

I recently added finely ground vanilla pod , which had gotten too brittle to do anything else with, to some herbs de provence ( without Lavender ) and used it as a spice rub on some duck breasts ..

definitely took it to another level !!! and went nicely with a side of Brussels Sprouts and some celery root puree´

The recipe for Saffron Vanilla sauce on Black Sea Bass in French Laundry Cookbook was my introduction to vanilla in a savory dish, and a tremendous hit with all who've tried it.

Although whenever Ive mentioned it to non Foodie fiends, I inevitablly get the "Oh Icky~Poo " reaction as they imagine a slab of fish with a gob of vanilla ice cream on it. I cant wait to try the asparagus though...

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