To make a great salad dressing there are a few things that you MUST consider.
You MUST consider that there are 4 flavors that need to be in each dressing, sauce and marinade that you make in order to make it successful. Understanding this will greatly speed up learning curve, elevate your culinary skills and make you a salad dressing MASTER in no time flat.
In order to have a dressing that is absolutely unforgettable, you need to have 4 flavors in your dressing. Skipping any one of these flavors could throw off your dressing and leave you wondering what happened. There is really no way around it (trust me, I tried it). If any one of these is missing, you may find that your dressing is really good, but is missing that ‘thing’. Here’s how you avoid that.
Your salad dressing needs to have these 4 flavors in it – Salty, Sweet, Sour, and Spicy. Here’s how to achieve these with ease (in no particular order of importance):
- Sour – each dressing needs to have a tangy twist to it. It doesn’t necessarily need to be an overwhelming tang, but it does need to be present. Whether mild or pungent, be sure to add at least one sour ingredient your each of your dressings. Examples are lemon, lime, orange juice or any type of vinegar including balsamic, red wine, white wine, apple cider, rice, or champagne. You can really play around with these to have a different taste experience even if you use the same ingredients. My personal favorite is the very tangy type of sauces and dressings, so I like LOTS of lemon and apple cider vinegar. Nom Nom NOM!
- Sweet – Even the dressings and sauces that don’t seem to have any sugar in them probably have at least a pinch of sugar or some other sweet ingredient. It can help give all the other flavors a bit of balance. I found out many years ago how important that bit’o sugar was when I tried to make spaghetti sauce from scratch. I found that it had a really great flavor but there was something missing and it gave me a heartburn-y feeling. I put a couple spoons of sugar in it, not enough to even taste the sugar, and all was right with the world! You don’t just have to rely on sugar. You can use something like a drop or a spoon of honey, a pinch of sugar, or fruit. If you want to explore more flavors, try maple syrup, agave nectar, or molasses. Any fruit juice will do. OR you can just used a vinegar that is sweeter like balsamic or a fruit infused vinegar.
- Salt – even if you are avoiding salt to avoid elevating your blood pressure, you do NOT want to skip this ingredient. It doesn’t need to be an overtly salty taste, but you do want to have it in there for taste. To achieve a hint of salty you can use things like a salty cheese (think feta cheese), olives, soy sauce, miso, dulse, or salt itself. You can even use a salt substitute like No Salt or Nu Salt. These are great to have on hand because it can give you the salt taste you crave while giving you the potassium your body needs.
- Spicy – Being the New Orleanian that I am, I really do enjoy a spicy dish, but over the years I’ve learned to tone down my love of spicy if I am sharing a meal with someone else. You can definitely have a delicious dish with a hint of spice without making your friends break into a sweat with your food. Ad a little spice to your dressing with black or white pepper, chili pepper for a Mexican-inspired dish, ginger for an Asian-inspired dish, or any other type of pepper. You can also use ingredients like wasabi, garlic, onions, shallots, and horseradish.
Once you get these 4 flavors in your mind, it will be relatively easy to play around and craft your own culinary delight.
What are your favorite flavor ingredients?
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