The Three Main Western Delicacies
If you have become advanced enough in basic cooking and want to really kick your cuisine skills up a notch, it may be time for you to start investing in the three main Western delicacies. Although every region of the world has its own take on what constitutes a luxury cuisine item, caviar, fois gras and truffles remain the most rare and delicious foods that even advanced chefs are dying to get their hands on.
If you feel comfortable with your simple recipes and are ready to move forward, consider trying one or all of these lux ingredients the next time you prepare a meal. Chances are when you open your own restaurant, you will want to have a firm grasp on why these items are so important.
This is perhaps the most controversial of all of the Western delicacies, as several areas including Chicago, parts of the European Union and California have banned the use of it in the past. Fois gras is literally the fattened liver of goose or duck, and has been served since ancient Egyptian times before becoming incredibly popular in French cuisine.
It can be made domestically, but many fine-dining chefs will import fois gras for their recipes. Fois gras is delightfully rich, but very versatile. As a chef, you can serve it cold. However, because of its creaminess, many chefs prefer it pan-seared, grilled or braised on high heat or slow-cooked into a terrine.
If you do decide to cook fois gras over high heat, it is important to cook it quickly and carefully. If overcooked, fois gras will tend to dissolve and melt, much like butter. One to two minutes on either side of your slices should usually do the trick. Sauternes are a wonderful wine choice to compliment the flavors of fois gras.
Traditionally served as a delicate appetizer along with a glass of bubbly, caviar is one of those foods in cooking schools that means extravagance. People typically either love or hate caviar, as they are sturgeon eggs – the roe from a fish that is found in many regions, but most notably the Caspian Sea.
There are three main types of caviar: beluga, osetra and sevruga. These fish eggs are harvested from the sturgeon and except for the addition of salt, they are pretty delicious on their own. Diners have an acquired taste for caviar, as it does have a briny flavor.
Be warned: Many people call salmon, lumpfish and whitefish eggs caviar, but unless they are the black roe from a sturgeon, they aren’t the same thing. Caviar is also very expensive and has a short shelf life, so make sure you do your homework and know how much you want to serve before purchasing. It’s also important to note that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has stopped the import of beluga caviar into the country because of diminishing stocks in the Caspian Sea. If someone is trying to sell you beluga caviar, it was likely poached or from the black market.
There are three species of truffles that are used in cooking, including white, black and Burgundy. These items are technically a fungi that blooms underground and must be foraged with truffle-sniffing dogs or pigs. The flavor of truffles are directly attributable to its aroma, making them a powerful ingredient to add in sauces, pates, eggs, butter and pasta dishes. After they are cleaned, truffles are generally scraped or peeled onto foods just before eating. Since they are rare and go through an extensive foraging process, they can be very expensive, but add a unique flavor to dishes than cannot be imitated. Depending on the dish, almost any wine can be paired with the flavors of truffles or truffle oil.
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