Recently, a chef told me what she believes is the most underutilized “condiment” in the home kitchen. And you have probably guessed based on the citrus face here, so I’ll just tell you: acid.
As in citrus juice or vinegar, not the psychedelic stuff. And now you can see why I sat here for a good 10 minutes trying to figure out what to title this post. Drop a little acid on that asparagus? No. Squeeze my lemon until the juice runs down my eggs? Double no.
But all jokes aside, there is true value in this hint. Often, when we taste our food and sense that something is missing, it might be our immediate inclination to reach for salt or pepper or some other seasoning. But it could be that a little squeeze of lime or a splash of vinegar is all we need to brighten the flavors of the dish.
The best way to figure out uses for acids as a finishing touch at the table is to experiment. Already, many Southerners like vinegar on their greens, and lots of people love lemon on seafood. But check out some lime juice on Thai food, a squeeze of lemon on your chicken tacos or fajitas, a splash of apple cider vinegar on your broccoli or asparagus.
When I made those pulled pork tacos I wrote about not long ago, we squeezed a little lemon over the pork before piling on the rest of our toppings. I believe it made a big difference, and it probably cut back on the amount of sodium we would have consumed had we added more salt or seasoning blends.
Do you ever use acids to liven up the flavor of your foods? If so, what is your favorite application?