Culinary Sense

Adventures with Food and Life

Sensory Analysis

Hey Folks!

I’m starting a new class called “Sensory Analysis”. It used to be called “Taste and Flavor”, but it’s recently changed to incorporate a couple of other important lessons, including food and wine pairing.

The course is to learn about the five tastes (sour, bitter, salty, sweet, umami), how spicy works, what the physiological reaction in the body is, and so on. Hopefully, we can also expand our palates.

Our first project was to create a dish that included all five tastes. Chef Sarah gave us the protein, and then we got split up into pairs to make a dish with a protein, vegetable, starch, sauce, and garnish.

Here’s what came out.

Shrimp with polenta, wilted spinach/tatsoi and croutons. Sour: white wine garlic sauce; Bitter: wilted greens; Sweet: polenta; Umami: shrimp. And of course, salt was added to taste.

Pork roast stuffed with mushrooms, broccoli rabe, sweet potato mash, and mustard mushroom sauce. Apple for garnish. Sour: sauce and apple; Bitter: broccoli rabe; Sweet: sweet potato mash and apple; Umami: pork and mushrooms.

Asian chicken with spicy dried apricot sauce, rice, and bok choy. Fried wontons for garnish. Sour: rice (vinegar added); Bitter: bok choy; Sweet: sauce; Umami: chicken.

Haddock with orzo, caramelized onion, roasted garlic, and sun dried tomato, asparagus and white wine caper sauce. Sour: sauce; Bitter: asparagus; Sweet: orzo; Umami: haddock.

Hanger steak, potatoes Anna, kale, and red wine vinegar sauce with demi. Sour: sauce; Bitter: kale; Sweet: red peppers and onions in the potatoes; Umami: steak.

One of the goals of this project was to balance all the tastes so that each had the same intensity on the plate. It’s not that easy to do! My team made the haddock, and it came out quite well, although the orzo was a bit too sweet.

Here’s the table we decked for our feast! Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, we will set things up like this to taste what we’ve created! And discuss it, of course!

~ Carolynn

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