Playing with Textures: A Manifesto on using Texture as an Ingredient

This is a different kind of post than my usual ones. There will still be a recipe or method, but I want to focus on the concept of Texture as an Ingredient. So bear with me for this post, and if you think the same thing, please give me your opinion. Let us commence.

Various people make food, incognizant of the texture of the food. Their thoughts are not on how to present and use the texture in the dish. Cooking pasta al dente is important not because of some status or skill you want to maintain or show off. Cooking pasta al dente adds a texture to your pasta and using that texture is just as important as an ingredient. In fact, it is an ingredient. It is a component in your dish which changes how the dish will taste because texture affects the way you appreciate and experience a dish.

However, you can go one step further and pit different textures against each other in order to create a dish. If you understand how to use textures of different foods, you can create a sensory experience beyond that of any dish which uses the same ingredients. If you utilize the texture as an ingredient, you will add another level to the dish. So please let me take you on this ride of different textural elements I used in this very simple, yet incredible tasting dish.

IMG_9744.JPG

Ingredients:

  • Avocado
  • Bacon bits
  • Crispy bread bits
  • Lemon juice
  • Parmesan shavings
  • Salt and pepper
  • Textures!

Method: Preparing the ingredients

The ingredients need prepping. So, first of all, I cut the avocado in blocks and scooped them out, ready for plating.

Next, I cooked bacon bits until they were between crispy and soft. They have a type of chew to them that meat has.

Then, I fried small bread pieces of my old sourdough loaf I had left. I cut them in smallish pieces, like the bacon, to make a bite very easy.

I also shaved some parmesan cheese in shavings.

IMG_9740.JPG

IMG_9741.JPG

IMG_9742.JPG

IMG_9739.JPG

Plating

Using the cubes of avocado as a base, I added salt and pepper and lemon juice. I then added the bacon bits and bread bit. Then I followed with the parmesan shavings.

IMG_9743.JPG

IMG_9744.JPG

A Short Manifesto on Using Texture as an Ingredient

The texture of food does not play a key enough role in people's dishes and the writing of recipes. I presented you with a dish in which all of the components play a role textural-wise. The avocado is a smooth texture to coat the palate for the onslaught of bacon-grease-crunch-bread-bits. The parmesan rounds the taste off with a nutty element. The lemon juice cuts through all of the fat.

Your mouth explodes with textural overload. The soft avocado is in direct contrast with the hard crunchy bread. The smokey flavour of the bacon and bacon fat fights against the smooth fatty layer of avocado. Biting into a small piece of bacon is toothy (almost al dente like) and the cheese in paper-thin layers almost melts when it touches the roof of your palet.

Texture makes this dish. A simple avocado slice on toast with a crispy piece of bacon would have not been the same. By "deconstructing" the elements of this dish, I tried to create something different and to utilise the textural element as an ingredient.

Many dishes fail due to the recipe not making you cognizant of the texture of the final dish. Broccoli needs to be almost raw to enjoy, otherwise, the texture becomes a distracting element to your dish. This is only one example of food that tastes relatively the same undercooked vs. overcooked, but where the textural component a vital role.

The simple iceberg lettuce is another prime example where the taste does not play such a big role. Rather, the potential of iceberg lettuce is in the texture. Most people use it for that exact reason, even though they are not always cognizant of this fact.

So go out, and feel the food, place it in your mouth and experience the textural element. Be cognizant of how to utilize the texture of an ingredient. Contrast a crispy and hard ingredient with something soft and smooth. Let your creativity take over.

Sort:  

Very interesting. I've typically disliked bulky, hard, difficult to chew foods. Unwieldy foods. And I've liked soft foods, easy to chew, wieldy foods. It seems to play a big role in the overall eating experience. Yet recipes don't talk about it. So what you wrote was very interesting to me. I have no idea how to achieve various textures. Do you have any pointers on that - any videos, articles, books?

Hi there! Thank you so much for the reply and perspective. Nope I do not have anything because I am not sure it exists! From all of the stuff I have read and watched online, few if any mention texture. I am a baker by profession and texture plays a huge role in the final product. I have read various books, and few talk about texture as an important role/ingredient. Most people only talk about it as a by-product, one that just so happens to be there. But I will do some more research in due time.

Well, thanks for your response! So good to hear you are a baker and all your interests in texture, I am already following you but will surely continue reading your posts with great interest.

By the way, just now I ate some bread that I really, really liked so much. I was just commenting with my family on how good this bread is. It is baked here in the local store. We have typically been buying bread from another local bakery. In both cases the bread is baked just nearby and not in great quantities but rather hand-made (without any big automated machinery). But there is such a great difference between the two. This bread that I ate just now is very easy to chew, very easy to take a piece of, and so, so delicious (strong, lasting flavor). The other one seems much more difficult to chew (lots more chewing required, can be rough on the mouth or teeth if you're not careful), more difficult to take a piece of, and it just tastes kind of regular (nice but I wouldn't call it super delicious or having strong, lasting flavor).

So I thought I'd share this as an example of the massive difference texture (if I understood right how you meant it) made for me.

Thank you for this excellent example! Yes, I worked at a bakery where I used equipment to make the bread, and I ran a side hustle where I baked privately as well. The home-baked bread I did not use any equipment and I used my hands and different techniques. I find bread that is made with the hand has superior texture and bread made with a machine to be tough and chewy. I also find that the taste of hand-made bread superior, you can taste the baker's love in their bread if it is made with their hands. When you mechanize the bread-making process, you lose that baker's touch that you can taste in the final product.

Thank you again for the wonderful example and thanks so much for the follow! :D

Well thank you for bringing up this wonderful topic! :)