Monday, January 2, 2012

Perspectives for 2012 - Top 7 recipes of 2011

Now that 2011 comes to an end: it is the time to reflect back on our past and figure out what new paths to take for 2012. By experience, doing the same thing over the years usually leads to boredom and lack of motivation. We need to enrich ourselves with new knowledge and new activities. To keep one motivated is to set a time-frame to realize long-term and short-term goals. In this case, what are my food-related goals? What am I planning to cover on this blog for 2012?

My main goal is to understand this age old question: what makes a dish irresistibly delicious? It is all about building flavour profiles to your protein with aromatics, herbs and spices than just adding salt and pepper. But how do you build flavour profiles? You can't just put any ingredients. A recently published article (Flavor network and the principles of food pairing) that Rebecca from Chow and Chatter posted on her Facebook fan page caught my attention. As a scientist, I love to put my mind into a scientific article and understand it carefully. Here is a chart from the article which represents the flavour network.

A flavour network of ingredients that are most used in recipes. Prevalence represents the occurrence of the ingredient over 56,000 recipes analyzed and shared compounds are the number of shared flavour compounds between two ingredients.
To summarize the article, the researchers have studied over 56,000 recipes through all major recipe websites such as and epicurious. Each ingredient contains a number of predefined flavour compounds. North Americans are likely to use ingredients which share a high number of flavour compounds known as food pairing. Find below a video of Heston Blumenthal trying out an odd combination - blue cheese and chocolate.

Unlike East Asia, they are less likely to use ingredients that share the same flavour compounds. These dishes are about the perfect balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavours. Overpowering one ingredient can make the dish unpleasant or missing the feeling that you can't stop eating it.

As a long-term food-related goal is to have a better understanding of the use of spices and herbs. The flavour network diagram will prove helpful for flavour combination.

So what are your food-related goals?

I will end this post with my top 7 recipes of 2011, each has its own special characteristic.

1. Hummus with a touch of parsley - my all-time favourite spread for my toasts in the morning.

2. Lentil Gardener's Pie - This vegetarian version of Shepherd's pie has converted some meat-eaters into flexitarians or even vegetarians.

3. Lamb Meatballs with Cilantro Raita - Irresistible, flavour-packed with herbs and spices. These will be a sure hit for your next dinner party.

4. Jerk Seafood - Spicy and saucy. You might end up sucking out every ounce of flavours out of these seafood.

5. Marble Rum Chocolate Banana Cake - Play a tasting game with this cake. There are more ingredients than meets the eye.

6. Shrimp Pad Thai - The perfect balance of salty, spicy, sour and sweet flavours in this popular noodle dish.

7. Roasted Root Vegetables - Simple ingredients with a simple recipe makes a good side dish.


  1. Happy 2012!

    All your best 2011 dishes look delicious to me! Being a logic person, I like reading your scientific way of "analyzing" food. The food network looks very interesting too!

  2. Hi Victor, everything looks so delicious. Happy new year to you and wishing you all the best in 2012. Have a nice day.

  3. great post Victor and Heston is the best :-)

    Happy new year

  4. Delicious round up of favorites, everything looks so good. Happy New Year, Victor!

  5. Lovely recap,wonderful post Victor..Happy new year..

  6. Happy new year, Victor! Love the recipes you have posted.. I missed one or two of them, if you can believe that, so thank you for the repost!

    I also love your research into what makes a dish so delicious.. very informative. You make science seem pretty fun :)

  7. Great research into what makes a dish delicious. Great recap! Happy New Year.

  8. Happy New Year, Victor! Yes, the reasons behind flavours and how they complement one another are fascinating. Looking at your best-of, it shows that you've been really diversified in your cooking in 2011. May you continue to enjoy life and cooking in 2012!

  9. happy new year to you, victor! such interesting studies on the combination of flavours and with this, i'm sure many will get more creative ideas with their food creations. no, i hv not found the macro mode on my camera yet..only night day i shall chk with the shop assistant.

  10. What an interesting post. I love the dishes you selected to share with us today. The problem now will be which to try first. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

  11. Happy New Year Victor! Your pad thai looks delicious. It's always my favorite Thai noodle and now kids' favorite as well. I'm going to try roasted root vegetable (I love root veggies!), it's easy and delicious. :-) Thanks for your insight about my resolution. It was really sweet of you to write me the message. Hope to have a good balance. :-)

  12. That hummus looks so good! I wonder why you just picked up 7 favourites...

  13. @Angie's Recipes

    My rule of thumb is to pick the top 10% of the published recipes of the year which were outstanding in terms of flavours and simplicity.

  14. This is a great way to start the new year Victor!

  15. Great picks Victor! Interesting post and very informative. I love experimenting with food pairing too:D



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