IF YOU CAN CITRUS AND ALMOST ANYTHING
Matt Preston plays matchmaker with some unlikely ingredients that were just waiting to be introduced.
We know lemon goes with everything from seafood to poppy seeds, but try teaming blueberries with lemon, perhaps piled on a lemon tart. Delicious! Also try adding ground coriander to the pastry to accent the lemony zip.
Orange goes well with bay leaves. Try infusing a few fresh leaves in the sugar syrup for any cocktail that features orange. Equally surprising is fresh peeled mandarins with an Earl Grey tea granita or panna cotta. Thyme is equally at home with the fruit – they share flavour compounds that make them a great match.
More oddly, grapefruit has a strange affinity with both salmon and, freakier still, carrots, but then nothing is as magical as the way a squeeze of lime removes the unpleasant aroma of a year-11 formal from any papaya, making it quite palatable.
SALT WITH CHOCOLATE Sure, it’s not a classic combo like cherries with dark chocolate, nor as out-there as Heston Blumenthal’s love of pairing white chocolate with caviar, or the practice of adding blue cheese to chocolate mousse (which makes it taste smoother and richer), but a few flakes of good salt does pretty sexy things to everything from a slice of rich chocolate tart to a self-saucing chocolate pudding.
BEYOND CHEESE WITH BACON Cheese is a natural with tomatoes, onions and bacon, but how about adding some kimchi to a cheddar toastie, melting slices of manchego on a chorizo hot dog or drizzling honey over that goat’s cheese in a salad? Even more interesting is pairing blue cheese with whisky or a little glass of old muscat. It also works well with dates.
CHICKEN WIGS OUT Bacon, tarragon, mustard and corn all belong with chook, but try serving your next Sunday roast with a side of bananas fried in butter (perhaps with a splash of bourbon, too, or a salty side of bacon), adding dill or coriander seed to the sauce for a chicken pie, or some parmesan to the crumb for a chicken schnitzel. All are successful, if a little trippy, ways to step up your chook.
VEGETABLES WITH WHAT? Vegetables also lend themselves to unusual matches whether that’s almonds with sweet potatoes, sesame seeds with butternut pumpkin or cucumber with tamarind or with octopus (possibly joined by ouzo). The acidity and sweetness of fresh tomatoes mean they’ll stand up to such additions as raspberries (odd), plums or nectarines (less odd) in a salad. A bright, acidic vinaigrette helps to pull them all together.
YOU CAN’T BE SERIOUS Roast pork with peaches or pineapple is not too radical, but I’ve also I’ve tried oysters with passionfruit (never again), bacon with banana and barbecue sauce on a pizza (oddly alluring) and salty French fries dipped into a vanilla thickshake, which was ‘a thing’ a while back. At least it worked better than chocolate-covered pretzels – although the salt on the pretzels was okay.
Weirdest of all, perhaps, is chasing a shot of bourbon with a good slug of pickle juice. This ‘pickleback’ leaves me with the distinct flavour of cheap cheeseburger. Keen to try salt with self-saucing chocolate pudding? Head to delicious.com.au to find Matt’s irresistible recipe.