In the balance

When cooking with punchy flavours, there is a fine line that balances a meal perfectly. Too much salt, sugar, acid or spice and a meal can change hugely. We all know what it is like to lovingly prepare a dish only to have it turn out a little too spicy or a little too salty and a little disappointing.

A few simple adjustments can coax a dish into a flavourful and well-balanced eating experience.

If you have accidentally added too much salt, bulking up a meal by adding more vegetables and diluting with a little water can help reduce the intensity of the salt. Adding sugar or something spicy can also help balance and mask the excess salt. Adjusting the salt in a dish can also enhance sweetness and suppress bitterness.

Getting the acid balanced correctly can also change the flavours. Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, or a dash of vinegar can bring out different flavours in a dish and enhance them without having to up the salt.

Another more hidden gem in cooking that transforms dishes is umami. Think soy sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce and miso. In many of these Asian sauces and pastes, umami gives an incredible depth of flavour to cooking.

Familiarising your pantry with umami-rich products as well as delicious fresh flavour enhances like chilli, garlic, ginger, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf will allow you to create punchy, well-balanced dishes.

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