What Unusual Food Pairings Work Surprisingly Well?
Exploring the culinary world often leads to delightful surprises, and we’ve gathered the most intriguing from a diverse group of food enthusiasts and culinary experts. From the unexpected fusion of chamoy and mango to the creamy richness of olive oil on ice cream, here are fourteen unusual food pairings that these connoisseurs swear by.
- Chamoy and Mango: A Sweet-Spicy Fusion
- Cured Meats and Fruit: An Umami Surprise
- Kombucha Meets Spicy Thai: A Quirky Pairing
- Tuna Tartare with Watermelon: A Caterer’s Twist
- Horseradish and Apples: A Spicy-Sweet Snack
- Avocado and Chocolate: Creamy Dessert Duo
- Raspberries and Blue Cheese: Bold Flavor Contrast
- Cinnamon and Butternut Squash: A Roasty Enhancement
- Peanut Butter and Pickles: Crunchy, Tangy Mix
- Soy Milk in Bolognese: A Vegan’s Touch
- Sriracha-Peanut Sauce: Noodles’ Unlikely Friend
- Prosciutto and Melon: An Italian Classic
- Strawberries and Balsamic: A Sweet-Tangy Marriage
- Olive Oil on Ice Cream: Fruity Creaminess
Chamoy and Mango: A Sweet-Spicy Fusion
While many people haven’t heard of chamoy and mango, it’s a popular Mexican food pairing that should be tried at least once in your lifetime. With the perfect sweet-and-spicy balance, this flavor combination pops up in candies, frozen mangonadas, and fresh mango drizzled with chamoy sauce.
Chamoy is typically made from pickled fruit (like apricots, mangoes, or Japanese ume plums), chili peppers, lime juice, and spices. This condiment is savory, sweet, spicy, and tangy all at once, contrasting with the sweet juiciness of mango.
When I tried my first mangonada, it was a shock to my taste buds. Now, I’m completely hooked on this refreshing blend! I like to serve mango and chamoy as a snack, a dessert, or even as part of a savory dish.
Cured Meats and Fruit: An Umami Surprise
The pairing of cured meats wrapped around fruit is surprisingly delicious! The savory notes from the cured meats beautifully complement the natural sweetness of the fruit, creating a unique and satisfying umami-like flavor.
Some inventive combinations to try include prosciutto paired with crisp Fuji apples, bacon wrapped around juicy watermelon, pastrami paired with ripe cantaloupe, and salami paired with refreshing honeydew melon. These combinations offer a delightful fusion of flavors that result in a mouthwatering bite!
Kombucha Meets Spicy Thai: A Quirky Pairing
If you’re looking for a fun and unique food pairing, try matching kombucha with spicy Thai food. It’s a combo that might sound a bit quirky at first, but it’s absolutely delicious!
Kombucha, with its fizzy, tangy kick, goes surprisingly well with the bold spices of Thai cuisine. The bubbly drink helps to soothe the spice and brings a whole new dimension to the meal. It’s a playful and unexpected pairing that’s perfect for a casual dinner party. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter!
Tuna Tartare with Watermelon: A Caterer’s Twist
As co-founders of a catering company, we are very open to trying new combinations of flavors. One of our popular hors d’oeuvres is a tuna tartare with watermelon, chili oil, and mint.
Watermelon and tuna might seem like a strange combination, but you get the sweetness of the fruit, the saltiness of the fish, the freshness of the mint, and just a little kick of spice from the chili oil. With the right balance of these unusual flavors together, the result is delicious!
Horseradish and Apples: A Spicy-Sweet Snack
My new obsession is to put horseradish sauce on everything. Recently, I have been dipping apples into peanut butter mixed with horseradish. It gives a nice, spicy twist to a typically sweet and tart snack.
Avocado and Chocolate: Creamy Dessert Duo
When you think of chocolate, you don’t often think about avocado as well. It’s not something you would think of as complementary, but they actually do work well together when combined into a dessert. Avocado has a rich and creamy texture, similar to that of dairy, so when blended or mashed, it can create a smooth and velvety consistency that complements the creamy nature of chocolate.
Avocado itself also has a relatively mild and neutral flavor, especially when it is just ripe. This allows it to act as a versatile base that doesn’t overpower the strong taste of chocolate but adds a subtle earthiness, which helps to balance out the sweetness of chocolate.
These two ingredients work well together in brownies, cakes, and even chocolate mousse to create a rich and delicious dessert.
Raspberries and Blue Cheese: Bold Flavor Contrast
I’m a fan of the bold and contrasting flavor combination created by the sweet-tartness of raspberries and the pungency of blue cheese. It’s a delightful pairing that never fails to surprise my taste buds. Whether enjoyed as part of a cheese platter or a unique dessert, this combination adds a touch of sophistication to any meal.
Cinnamon and Butternut Squash: A Roasty Enhancement
Roasting butternut squash with a sprinkle of cinnamon is a fantastic way to enhance its natural sweetness and provide a warm, comforting taste. This pairing is ideal for fall, and it’s a side dish that I often prepare for gatherings and holiday dinners.
Peanut Butter and Pickles: Crunchy, Tangy Mix
Surprisingly, the creamy richness of peanut butter pairs remarkably well with the tangy crunch of pickles. When I’m feeling adventurous, I make a peanut-butter-and-pickle sandwich, and the combination of flavors and textures is oddly satisfying. It’s become my go-to snack when I want something unconventional yet tasty.
Soy Milk in Bolognese: A Vegan’s Touch
We Italians are famous for being extremely traditional with recipes, but I am convinced that some little variations can make specific foods much more delicious.
For example, I recently started adding a little bit of milk to my Bolognese sauce. But since I’m vegan, I use soy milk. In reality, according to the Italian Academy of Cuisine, there is a variation of this recipe that includes it, but we are talking about regular, non-vegetable milk.
Despite this, I was amazed by it.
It increases the sauce’s creaminess and compensates for the sometimes slightly acidic flavor of the tomato. Obviously, you shouldn’t overdo it. A slight touch is enough to improve this already fantastic recipe!
Sriracha-Peanut Sauce: Noodles’ Unlikely Friend
Peanut butter, sriracha, honey, and don’t forget the soy sauce. Just whisk all of that together, and you end up making an insanely good and versatile sauce. As weird as it sounds, it amazingly tastes good.
I never would have thought that this sauce would work well when mixed into noodles. Voilà! You now have an unusual food pairing that you might add to your favorites. Even just thinking about it makes me drool.
If you want to explore more, that sauce is also amazing with savory oats. What’s that? Yes, oats that aren’t overly sweet. While cooking plain oatmeal on the stove, mix in that sauce, and maybe an egg. Delicious, savory oats that you can eat for any meal of the day.
Prosciutto and Melon: An Italian Classic
While I’m enjoying the classic appeal of Italian food, I can’t get enough of the way prosciutto and melon taste together. Salty, thinly-sliced prosciutto and sweet, juicy melon go together like butter and honey, making a culinary wonder that has stood the test of time.
This traditional Italian appetizer shows how careful balance is important in Italian cuisine. The savory notes of the prosciutto and the sweet, juicy notes of the melon complement each other well. As I enjoy each bite, I’m taken to a world where the simple ingredients become a sensory experience. This leaves an indelible mark on my palate and a lasting appreciation for the cooking traditions that have led to this delicious match.
Strawberries and Balsamic: A Sweet-Tangy Marriage
One particular combination that stands out is the marriage of fresh strawberries and aged balsamic vinegar.
At first glance, this pairing might seem odd. After all, strawberries are typically associated with sweet desserts or refreshing summer salads, while balsamic vinegar is often used as a tangy dressing or marinade for savory dishes. However, when these two ingredients come together, magic happens.
The sweet and juicy nature of ripe strawberries beautifully contrasts with the rich and complex flavors of aged balsamic vinegar. The tartness of the vinegar enhances the natural sweetness of the strawberries, creating a delightful balance of flavors. The vinegar’s acidity also helps to cut through the fruit’s sweetness, preventing it from becoming cloying.
When you take a bite of a perfectly ripe strawberry drizzled with a few drops of aged balsamic vinegar, the taste is extraordinary. The vibrant sweetness of the fruit dances on your palate, while the vinegar adds a subtle tang that elevates the overall experience.
Olive Oil on Ice Cream: Fruity Creaminess
Drizzling extra-virgin olive oil over a scoop of vanilla ice cream is a delightful fusion of fruity and creamy notes that I find surprisingly delicious. It’s a unique combination that adds a touch of luxury to a classic dessert, making it a treat I savor on special occasions.
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