To help decide how to mix and match our ingredients for good soups, it does make a difference if we’re aware of the different tastes that our bodies can recognise. It can go a long way to fixing a dish that doesn’t taste as it should, as it could simply be a case of balancing one or more of the other tastes.
If a dish is too bitter, perhaps adding a touch of sugar could fix it. If it’s too sweet, perhaps a little lemon juice or a pinch of salt would make it palatable.
So, what are they?
1 – Salty
We all know the awful taste of food that’s oversalted, but if there isn’t enough salt in a dish, we can add extra by using ingredients such as salt itself, soy sauce, fish sauce or even stock cubes.
2 – Sweet
We all know our sweet taste. The sugar that many of us crave, yet we can also use things like honey, syrups and molasses instead of just sugar.
3 – Sour
I used to confuse bitter with sour, but now that I know the difference, it’s easier to tell. We can tell sour by the taste buds on our tongue. If you’ve ever tasted kids sour sweeties, you’ll know exactly what I mean. It’s sharp and acidic and not always unpleasant. Think of lemons, kids sour sweets and even sour milk.
4 – Bitter
We feel the bitter taste at the back of our throats. It’s the coffee, beer, citrus peel, unsweetened cocoa etc. It’s very unpleasant to many. Not that sour milk isn’t unpleasant, but it’s in a different way.
5 – Umami (the newest taste that some say is one of the basics)
We might know this better as being of a savoury taste. Think of Marmite. You either hate it or love it, but there are different levels to umami, including meaty stocks and gravies. More thought of as a pleasant savoury taste. Think spag bol, or bacon crisps, or beef stroganoff…..
6 – Spicy
We all know this one too. The curry that’s too hot, or the chilli peppers in a dish that unexpectedly blow your head off.
As with salt, be careful when you add spicy ingredients. It’s very easy to make a dish too hot for people to eat. Most guest don’t take kindly to needing a pint of water for each course of a meal. Besides, it’s too much of a waste of food to simply throw it all away if something isn’t quite right. Good tricks to cool down spicy food could include adding yoghurt, cream, mayonnaise or even some cool mango chutney, with sweetness that will help counteract the spice.