Savory Recipes – Cooking on one end of the taste spectrum

Savory pizza

What exactly are savory recipes?

Well, this pizza is a good example of savory recipes. Yes, I should have put more color on the crust, and I have no idea why I didn’t. Such is the life of a home cook. But I don’t think I would exercise such poor judgement today. Even so, I still make mistakes, and not everything I make turns out perfectly. There are two lessons to be gained from this picture. 1. We eat with our eyes as well as our tongue. 2. Color generally means flavor. Never underestimate the power of either. Now, on with today’s topic.

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A-Z Cooking School curriculum is divided into three units. Savory cooking is the first. I may be overly broad with the usage of the term. Fine, if that’s the case, but I agree with the definition in the referenced post below “… sometimes used generically to mean the opposite of sweet or salty.” But regardless of your definition, what’s really of importance here is the five categories of tastes that comprise the savory spectrum. They are: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. Personally, I would add a sixth—hot or spicy. It’s not at all unusual to add a little zing to many of our savory dishes. And in some cases, expected. Like hot wings or chili or salsas. If you follow this link, you’ll get an explanation why.

Did you know spicy is not a taste?

If true, it is only a technicality from my perspective, and a technicality that doesn’t mean a hill of beans when it comes to flavor profiles. As humans, I don’t think we care which nerves are affecting our sensory experience.

Just like an artist's palette

In savory cooking, these tastes are like an artist’s palette or an author’s words. We mix and combine them from a variety of sources—adding bacon or sausage to provide a salty or smoky addition. If something is too rich, let’s say hollandaise, we add a touch of lemon to provide balance. So one of the keys to cooking like a pro is knowing the tricks of providing the right mix of components to satisfy our taste sensors. And the key to providing the right mix is knowing what’s in your dictionary.

We need a dictionary?

In Outside These Walls, Jason tutors Jen and Lis in second-year algebra. When Jen expresses her disdain for quadratic equations, Jason explains her problem is not knowing her multiplication tables like the back of her hand. He refers to them as the equivalent of a dictionary. The same holds true with our taste or flavor dictionary. Do you know the taste of balsamic vinegar and how it’s different from say … white vinegar? How about the difference between light and dark brown sugar? Lemon and lime? Probably on that one.

The reason I went more than two years hardly repeating a dish is that I explored the world of tastes. But the spectrum of tastes is not solely restricted to the natural taste of food. Also at our disposal are the methods, spices, herbs, things such as different vinegars, and layering. Smoking salmon on a cedar plank provides an entirely different flavor profile than does sautéing in a little olive oil.

Today's featured article for savory recipes

In the lessons ahead, I’ll be diving deeper into the finer aspects of creating tastes and flavors. Soon, you’ll be able to recognize why a recipe is designed the way it is … or isn’t and how to distinguish between a good one and a bad one. I don’t know how many recipes I’ve “used” where I’ve either rearranged them to do it correctly or altered them to achieve my desired result.

Today’s featured article comes courtesy of

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