As someone who used to always cook following a written recipe, developing a dish on my own seemed impossible. I wasn't too successful until recently when I stumbled upon Grant Achatz' (Alinea) video on flavor bouncing. It gave me the opportunity to look into the mind of the chef at one of best restaurants in the world, and a foundation to start planning my own dishes.
This video reminds me of my high school days when venn diagrams were cool. You start off with your star ingredient in the center, then you pick ingredients that not only pair well with the central ingredient but any other ingredient you pick. It not always intuitive on what ingredient to put down especially if you're a person like me who often cooks from a recipe, but just throw out an ingredient and cross it out if it doesn't work.
On my recent 72-Hour Short Rib cook, I wanted to figure out how to season my short ribs. Seasoning sous vide meat is not as intuitive as traditional cooking methods as you typically don't want to season your meat before putting them in the bath. I invested 72+ hours into this piece of meat, so I wanted to make sure that it was good so I tried this flavor bouncing idea.
I started writing down the first ingredients that came to mind as well as any ingredients I had lying around. As I wrote more down, an image of what I wanted started to form. These were my thoughts for some of the ingredients.
Short Ribs: Typically eaten during Korean BBQ or braised with red wine.
Miso: In Japan I ate steak seasoned with miso, it was magical. This component can be reduced as a glaze. This was the key ingredient that switched my dish to an Asian focus.
Sesame Seeds: Goes well with almost any Asian flavor. This can be added in conjunction with sesame oil (used heavily in Korean dishes).
Kimchi: It has a refreshing acidic/vinegary flavor that will cut through any fatty or overly sweet components.
Citrus: Same thought as the kimchi. I had Yuzu Mayo in my fridge so it is an easy option.
Red Wine: Great with short ribs or any red meat. However this can overpower other ingredients and subtract from the Asian flavors I was trying to draw on.
Lemon Juice: I had a box full of lemons from my parents tree... I wanted to find a way to use them up but it just didn't click with the other ingredients. I was getting a lot of citrus flavors from the Kimchi and Lemon.
Caramelized Onions: A no brainer. Delicious on anything savory. I was reminded of a caramelized/glazed green onions from a ramen recipe at norecipes.com. Sounded perfect.
Now that I created a web of ideas, they all started to come together into one cohesive dish. I wanted to be fancy and cut my short ribs into perfect squares with over the top arrangements of ingredients. Go hard or go home right?
When it came down to executing my game plan I was pretty satisfied with the results. There were several challenges, but that is for another time.