I’m trying new things. Namely, some new ingredients.
It takes a lot for me to break down and buy an ingredient outside of my norm. How is one to know when an ingredient will really *make* a dish, or if it can simply be left out or replaced with a more common ingredient? How am I to know if I’ll actually use this ingredient, especially if it comes in a large quantity? I have half a bag of brown rice flour just hanging out in my pantry, because as it turns out I only care about gluten-free baking if someone eating with me is gluten-free. Which isn’t that many people that I regularly bake for. I digress.
The way to tell if an ingredient is worth it, flavor- and shelf-space- and price-wise, is of course to taste it. And to do so you can either taste it at a restaurant, at someone else’s place, as a sample at a store, or buy some to try.
For the ingredients I bought this weekend I felt that I had ignored them in recipes too long, and that I couldn’t reasonably wait for them to be served plain in a restaurant, as a store sample, or at someone’s home. I broke down and bought them to see if they were worth keeping around.
Behold: my first impressions of tasting tahini, sweet white miso paste, and apple brandy.
Tahini: (After just a little stirring) This is sort of like an unsweetened nut butter. I really feel like this could just be that really pure peanut butter that doesn’t have anything added to it. (After a much more thorough stirring) Oh, nope, this is much more bitter than peanut butter. And it has a bit of nutritional yeast flavor even! A very savory flavor. This appears to keep for quite awhile in the pantry, so it’s a keeper!
Sweet White Miso Paste: This is sweet… and sour! Also nutty. If I were to try to substitute for it in a recipe, I’d maybe use an unsweetened mild nut butter and some apple juice and then some mild vinegar, like apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar? Maybe not, though, this is mellow, it really has its own thing going on. It’s good, though, and appears to have a really long shelf-life as long as it’s refrigerated. Another keeper!
Apple Brandy: Whoa! Strong much!? You get burn before you get taste, but yes, once the burning subsides you do get some apple, even apple cider, flavor. But ugh, my tongue is on fire! I hope it mixes up better than this. (A few minutes later) This has mellowed the tiniest bit. Maybe it needs to breathe, like wine? I’m not sold on this one yet, we’ll see how it is in a cocktail.
I’m really glad I got these, because now that I’ve tasted them on their own I can much more effectively substitute for them in a recipe if I needed to. Except that now, of course, I have them on hand!
I bought the tahini and miso for a Smitten Kitchen recipe (surprise, surprise) that I made this weekend: her recent post, Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl. It turned out quite well; the dressing was really thick for me, but I made it with an immersion blender, so perhaps I just over-blended it. The flavor was *killer*, it was just super thick, almost mayo consistency. I tried thinning it with water, but then the flavors were more muted. Next time I’ll try thinning it with even additions of rice vinegar and olive oil, or perhaps even canola oil.
The apple brandy has yet to be put to use, but I have a couple of recipes kicking around for it. I’ll share that later this week!
Until then, have a great week!