Layers of Flavor: Fat

According to the culinary gods of the universe, fat is flavor. Butter, in particular, according to google: “Diacetyl is a naturally occurring substance that gives butter its characteristic flavor and aroma, and is often a component of artificial flavoring formulations. Acetoin, a closely related chemical, also occurs naturally and is an ingredient in many flavoring formulations, perfumes and essences.” Not only is butter added to foods, it is added to perfumes too! Who could’ve guessed?

Fats add great mouthfeel to a dish and can add that depth of richness you crave. It can give something with a duller appeal to a bit of a crisp & flaky texture. They keep proteins juicy because the proteins in the fat enrobe the product you are cooking.

Now I am probably not the first one to tell you that fat is flavor but just because we don’t use animal fats as vegan/plant based, doesn’t mean we have to sabotage ourselves on flavor. There are so many great plant based butter and “fat” alternatives these days! And in a pinch, when you don’t have the alternatives, oil works great in most instances too! Here are some quick ways to amp up the flavor in your dish:

  • Unless you are on a low fat diet, starting the cooking process with a fat source is key to flavor & caramelization. Ex: Some coconut oil in the pan before sautéing veggies
  • Finish a sauce or soup with a pat of butter or vegan sour cream
  • When sautéing up plant based meat products, at the end of cooking, throw in a tablespoon or two of butter
  • The dressing you made is a little too vinegar-y? Emulsify in some melted butter or melted coconut oil.

Please note: just because a fat source can be delicious, don’t over do it! Always start with the “less is more” ideology. You can always add more but it’s harder (and sometimes impossible) to take away. You don’t want so much fat that it just coats your tongue upon eating.

Fats/Oils I like to keep on hand:

  • Vegan Butter – my usual go to is Earth Balance Buttery Spread
  • Unrefined Coconut Oil – the solid stuff you find in the grocery store
  • Olive Oil – EVOO and/or just regular olive oil
  • Avocado Oil – my wife absolutely hates the flavor of avocado oil but I lov e it & to me it seems pretty mild, she is a super taster so she highly disagrees and always prefers EVOO
  • Sesame Oil – this is the only “oddball” oil I have in my pantry, it elevates so many dishes with it’s flavor profile and is a great one to have around

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *