To most chefs the combination of oil and vinegar is synonymous with vinaigrette, a classic salad dressing. However, there are a myriad of uses for this combination which include use in marinades, sauces, stir frys and brines. Of course the quality of the ingredients can vary from epicurean vinegar to a gourmet extra virgin olive oil. Whatever varieties you have in store, it is good to remember that they can be used in so many different ways, either exotic or simple. An oil and vinegar salad dressing, for example, the classic vinaigrette, is prepared by combining the two ingredients together until an emulsification is formed, and the result is perfectly balanced and though not too acidic, enhances the fresh flavours of the salad. Even if these ingredients are used on their own, they can bring out the natural flavour of whatever food you apply them to. Flavoured vinegars, such as those made from fruits, have a sweet and acid element that can be used with wonderful results. Some olive oils have a similar effect and their richness complements rather than overwhelms many dishes that they are added to. For a perfect combination of oil and vinegar the correct balance is vital.
In the Far East and some European countries the use of oil and vinegar is commonplace, but in Mediterranean countries the uses of oil are endless and are ever present in every aspect of the cuisine. Not only is it used for cooking but it is poured over bread, drizzled over vegetables and added to tapenades and pesto for a richer flavour. In countries where Chinese cooking is popular it is unusual for sesame oil to be used in many different ways. It adds a wonderful mild flavour to stir frys and is often added to the finishing touches of a soup almost as a garnish. An ingredient that has historical origins and has been used for cooking for many generations is vinegar. The word vinegar is from the French vin aigre, meaning literally sharp wine. Vinegar is the product of wine being exposed to oxygen and bacteria. Gourmet vinegars are produced from excellent quality wine and then aged in casks to complete the process. Other superior vinegars are those that are made from the juice of fruits and aged in the same way.
oil and vinegar facts
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