Unusual Flavor Combinations in Recipes

Lately I've been thinking about weird flavor combinations that work. I recently made Tomato Tarte Tatin from an old Bon Appetit recipe. (It's on Epicurious, too.) It is a tomato dessert with sugar, butter, vanilla and puff pastry. I thought it would never work, but it's one of my family's favorites. Do you have any recipes you thought would never work?

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pierino
pierino July 19, 2012

Anything Korean.

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Hilarybee
Hilarybee July 20, 2012

Also a tomato recipe: tomatoes marinated in lemon juice and capers. Sounded awful to me. Tried it, and I like it significantly better than balsamic.

Goat Cheese in desserts. I never liked the tang of it, but I made a goat cheese cheesecake (dorie greenspan) and loved it. I was pleasantly surprised.

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bugbitten
bugbitten July 20, 2012

Inspired by the answers above, I'll just mention grated pepper on fresh fruit, as well as my guilty comfort favorite -- salty dutch pretzels with chocolate milk.

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pierino
pierino July 21, 2012

I've been thinking about this question for awhile. Fish sauce. By itself it smells like something you would use in your garden. But when comes in contact with other foods there is a miraculous change. Bottarga, Italian pressed fish roe, is another. By itself alone it smells like Satan's toenails. But shaved over hot pasta it turns into something else. For some reason I have an affinity for stuff that really stinks.

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bugbitten
bugbitten July 22, 2012

Pierino, my only worry about fish sauce is that maybe I've added too little. Bring on the stink!

SeaJambon
SeaJambon July 21, 2012

I've had an experience very much like Pierino's and found that fish sauce (which makes my nose curl at the smell) had a really amazing effect when added to other things. I threw some in a cold broccoli salad and it went from really good to WOW! Someone told me that fish sauce activates the umami taste buds, and I'm a believer.

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boulangere
boulangere July 21, 2012

Taught a class last night where one of the dishes was a chilled rice noodle salad with grilled prawns. I passed around blind scent bowl of each of the dressing ingredients, asking people which they would toss overboard given the chance. Winner: fish sauce. Made the dressing without it, passed around for tasting, then repeated with it. Fish sauce was redeemed. Couldn't cook without it. Heck, couldn't eat without it.

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allans
allans July 21, 2012

I don't know if this fits the question, but I love cottage cheese on spaghetti. Everyone I know turns their nose up at the mention, but the flavors are great together and so is the hot/cold contrast

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cranberry
cranberry July 21, 2012

The one I think is weird is watermelon with feta cheese as a summer salad.

And allans I love cottage cheese with pasta, and my mom used to make that baked for a bit to crisp up the pasta and brown the cheese just a bit. Yum.

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