5 Foods to Try. Don’t be afraid!

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Try something new

Stretch those culinary muscles. New food experiences can satisfy your soul while they perk up your palate.

Step out of your culinary comfort zone, but not too far

We are not talking about chancy mouthfuls, unless that’s your thing. This is not about the macho challenge of Anthony Bourdain-style extreme eating. We know that offal is trendy right now, but it’s not for everyone. That special maggot-enhanced Italian cheese? No shame in taking a pass.

This list will ease you gently into the unfamiliar. Deliciousness is paramount.

Asian fish sauce

Unlike duck sauce, fish sauce is made from fish– usually anchovies. Fish sauce is a staple of Vietnamese, Thai and other Southeast Asian cuisines. It’s salty, pungent, and intensely-flavored. A little goes a long, long way, but since it never spoils you can buy one good bottle and have it last a lifetime. Fish sauce can be used as both a seasoning for cooking and a condiment at the table, much like soy sauce. It’s versatile and addictive, and if you get hooked that lifetime bottle is not going to make it.

Shirataki Noodles

Another ingredient that is not widely known outside of Asia, shirataki are pre-cooked noodles made from a fibrous root that is commonly but inaccurately described as a yam. With little taste on their own, they pick up flavors from the other cooking ingredients. You’re probably not going to believe what I’m about to tell you: shirataki noodles have no gluten, no carbohydrates, no sugars, no fat, and no calories. No kidding— go see for yourself.

French green lentils (lentilles du Puy)

I know, you don’t really care for legumes. They’re always so bland and mushy. Green lentils are different. Really. They have a distinctive, almost peppery flavor and they never cook down into a paste. In fact they are nearly impossible to ruin from overcooking. You can eat them hot or cold, on their own as a side dish or added to soups and salads. Try to keep an open mind.

Capers

Capers are one of those little touches that you think are just there to be fussy. While they have a bit of a floral quality, they really perk up heavier sauces. Add them to butter- or tomato-based sauces and they contribute tartness and brighter tones. Use them in place of pickle relish with mayonnaise in things like tuna salad and tartar sauce for a sharp, herbal kick. They come jarred packed in either salt or brine, and should be rinsed first.

Israeli couscous

There seems to be some confusion about couscous. It’s not a grain and while it’s not a pasta, it is made from pasta ingredients like semolina flour. Most of the couscous we see comes as tiny pellets that have been pre-steamed and then dried so that they cook up quickly into a delicate fluff. Couscous is tasty, but a lot of people find it insubstantial and it has an unfortunate tendency to overcook into a porridge-like mass. In contrast, Israeli couscous is large, toasted pearls that are more forgiving of careless cooking, have an earthier taste, and a real chew to them. A whole different animal.

So many foods, so little time

Bucket lists are popular. Titles like 1001 Foods You Must Taste Before You Die are Amazon bestsellers. But why wait? Your taste buds aren’t getting any younger. Follow one woman as she checks things off of her bucket list. Annette Renee is a restaurateur in California’s wine country; naturally her bucket list is full of food-related wishes. There are even recipes.

You brought home the fish sauce. Now what? Try a recipe generator for some fresh ideas.

Are you up for more new flavors?  Spice giant McCormick & Co. has  predicted the 10 flavor pairings that they think will break through in the coming year.

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