Flavor Building – International Trinities

If you were ever curious about how certain ethnic foods have a flavor all its own, you can guess that there is a “base” set of flavors that the ethnic foods are started from.  I am sure most people are aware of mirepoix (french) of onions, carrots, and celery but these three ingredients are not the base of other foods such as Mexican, Italian, or Thai.  These foods start with ingredients that are completely different.

Below is a list of some international flavors that are based on a trio of ingredients that most dishes from that region begin with.

  • Brazil: dende oil, coconut milk and malagueta pepper.
  • Cajun/Creole: chopped onion, bell pepper, and celery.
  • Chinese: scallions, ginger and garlic or garlic, ginger and chili peppers.
  • Sichuan cuisine: chili, Sichuan, and white pepper.
  • Cuba: A sofrito of garlic, bell pepper and Spanish onion.
  • French: Mirepoix — chopped onions, carrots and celery.
  • Greece: lemon juice, olive oil and oregano.
  • Hungary: paprika, lard and onion.
  • India: garlic, ginger and onion.
  • Italian: Soffritto
    • Northern Italian cuisine: carrots, onions and celery (or fennel).
    • Southern Italian food: garlic, tomato and basil.
  • Jamaica: garlic, scallion and thyme.
  • Japan: defined more by flavors from sauces — dashi, mirin and soy sauce, often in precise ratios.
  • Korea: garlic, ginseng and kimchi, not always combined.
  • Lebanon: garlic, lemon juice and olive oil.
  • Mexico: ancho, pasilla and guajillo peppers.
  • Portuguese: Refogado — onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes.
  • Spanish: Sofrito — garlic, onion and tomato.
  • Thailand: galangal (a kind of ginger), kaffir lime and lemon grass.
  • West Africa: chili peppers, onions and tomatoes.

List courtesy of The City Cook



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