Photos by Emily Caruso
When I first got into cooking years ago, I followed recipes to a T and never deviated from them. Then, I started making changes as I began to get a sense of what worked and what didn’t. Once I became comfortable with that, I took the leap into developing my own recipes. One of the tools that helped me to do that is The Flavor Bible. I recommend it to everyone who loves to cook and wants to experiment more in the kitchen. People like to think there are no rules when it comes to cooking, but there are rules. There are flavors that go together and flavors that don’t—when you don’t respect that, you end up with recipes for red velvet jalapeño cupcakes filled with truffle-scented chocolate ganache topped with frizzled leeks and candied kumquat rind. Using 20 different mismatched flavors in a recipe doesn’t make you gourmet, it makes you a bad cook.
When I first started developing recipes, that was the kind of recipe I felt like I had to make. It was The Flavor Bible that helped me rein myself in—it made me realize that by working within a set of guidelines, I could be even more creative and develop stronger recipes. It’s much harder to develop a solid 8-ingredient dish than something with 40 ingredients and 3 hours prep time. No book gets more use in my kitchen than this one, so when I found out Karen Page came out with The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, I was thrilled.
If you’re vegetarian and you love to experiment in the kitchen and you could only purchase one cookbook for yourself this year, it should be this one. It’s more of a reference than a cookbook and you will find yourself referring to it constantly. The book starts with a timeline of vegetarian history and a write-up about vegetarian cooking (which includes a very useful “If you are craving this, try this instead” chart), but the “meat” of the book is the flavor matchmaking list section. The former librarian in me gets very excited about these lists! Don’t know what to do with the daikon radish you picked up at the Japanese market? The Vegetarian Flavor Bible suggests baking, braising and roasting, among other methods, and pairing it with mirin, lime, maple syrup and other root vegetables like carrots and potatoes.
If you look up tofu, you see that it pairs well with garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce, Korean cuisine, red bell peppers and zucchini, which brings us to this Korean Barbecue Tofu Bowl. It might not be frizzled leeks on a cupcake, but the flavors work together in a way that’s bound to make your belly happy. I adapted the sauce from a recipe on the Cooking Channel website and a tip I saw in Cooking Light that suggested substituting miso and sriracha in recipes that called for gochujang, which I didn’t have on hand. I paired the barbecue tofu with a simple stir fry, quinoa and fresh cabbage—feel free to substitute your favorite vegetables in the stir fry and any grain you like for the quinoa.
Disclosure: I received a copy of The Vegetarian Flavor Bible to review. The Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.Print this recipe
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