5 Super Simple Ways to Fix a Recipe That’s “Missing Something”
We’ve all done it – maybe it was a pasta sauce, maybe it was a chicken dish. You follow the recipe and give the final product a taste, but find yourself feeling underwhelmed. Not sure what exactly you were looking for, you add another pinch of salt and settle for a dish that is “just okay.” It happens to the best of us! But if you want to level up your cuisine and serve more satisfying, balanced dishes, here are five super simple things to try when your recipe is “missing something.”
- Take a taste inventory. Is your recipe primarily sweet, salty, savory, or sour? If one flavor is overpowering enough that you can’t identify any others, your dish needs balance. For example, a tomato sauce that is primarily sour or acidic to the taste could benefit from a pinch of sugar – yes, sugar! – to balance the flavor and give it more depth. On the flip side, a recipe that is overwhelmingly sweet (like a brownie with caramel on top) can often be made near-perfect just by adding a dash of salt. Likewise if your vinaigrette is too sour and acidic, it can be fixed with a little something sweet like honey or agave. It’s all about balance.
- Add an acid. Acidity is crucial to the balance of a recipe, but is often overlooked. It’s also a very easy component to add and is often as simple as a squeeze of lemon. Acids enhance the existing flavors of your dish while balancing out sweetness or saltiness. Make it a habit to reach for citrus, splash of vinegar, or even wine to combat the “missing something” taste.
- Try a fresh herb. We love the convenience of dried herbs as much as you do, but there is a certain brightness that can only be achieved by adding freshly chopped herbs. Heavy, meaty recipe such as pork carnitas can be instantly freshened up with a sprinkle of cilantro. Other great options to achieve this effect are parsley, basil, or even fresh dill. Remember to use them as a garnish or as the last step in the cooking process to ensure they don’t turn bitter.
- Instead of salt, add saltiness. It’s tempting to add a pinch of salt every time you taste your dish, but next time you think “it’s missing something, maybe it needs salt,” try one of these ingredients instead: miso paste, parmesan cheese, fish sauce or soy sauce. Replacing your go-to pinch of salt with something salty will fill the need while adding more depth and umami flavor to your recipe as a whole.
- Give it time. Sometimes, patience really is the key – especially when making a soup, sauce, or stew. If the flavor is lacking wow factor, it may be that your ingredients just need further time to break down, release flavors, and mingle. Let your sauce simmer for another twenty minutes and give it another taste, you may be surprised by the change. Good things take time!
No one creates a perfect recipe in one fell swoop. All the amazing meals you’ve eaten required some assessment, adjustment, and trial and error to achieve a well-balanced final recipe. No need to wonder what was missing – if you know what to look for and have a few of these culinary tricks up your sleeve, you can create dishes that satisfy all of your taste buds.
If you thought this was helpful, you would be so impressed with everything you could learn in one of our classes! Check out our class calendar to get signed up for cooking classes, book a private event, or enroll in our professional culinary school in Salt Lake City, Utah today!