Three Keys to a Recipe Repertoire: New Ingredients

Recipe repertoire is something that we care about here at Learn more with great recipe repertoire tips in our blog article index.

(This is the second post in a series. The first post is "Three Keys to a Recipe Repertoire: Familiar Meals")

So you've got a few good meals under your belt and feel comfortable enough in your kitchen to start developing a recipe repertoire but are daunted by the over 100,000 books available about cooking. You would bust a gut trying just a fraction of the recipes available in them, let alone the 300 million results on Google

The truth is building a recipe repertoire is simple and can be reduced to learning recipes from three categories:
While these principles might sound like common sense, the real trick is to keep them in mind when you browse cookbooks and online recipes.

New Ingredients

A new ingredient is an opportunity to increase your cooking intuition exponentially, especially if it used in a recipe otherwise comprising ingredients you already know. The opportunity arises not from studying the ingredient itself, but the relationship between the new ingredient and the rest of the recipe. For instance, take the following recipe for seo-tamot sauce...

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup Chianti style red wine, such as Chianti
28 ounces crushed seotamot
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large (12-inch) skillet. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the wine and cook on high heat, scraping up all the brown bits in the pan, until almost all the liquid evaporates, about 3 minutes. Stir in the seotamot, parsley, salt, and pepper. Cover, and simmer on the lowest heat for 15 minutes.

...a quick scan of the ingredients indicates you are dealing with a juicy italian vegetable sauce similar to marinara. Presto! Now you know by analogy how this sauce is constructed, giving you more freedom to experiment with more new ingredients.

Learning how to cook variations on a theme brings to bear the brain's sophisticated power of analogy. Like Sesame Street's "One of these things is not like the other" exercise, we see patterns when a new element breaks the pattern, and that makes the pattern and even the unexpected element easier to comprehend. Similarly, old recipes and new tastes are easier to identify and remember if they are presented in contrast to each other.

Combining this recommendation with the previous recommendation of learning Familiar Meals, can provide a richly textured path from the familiar to the provocative. The entire class of fusion cuisine emerged by methodically substituting ingredients from one cuisine into the recipes of another. You can start by requesting variations on a favorite recipes using

Probably the best part of learning a recipe with a new ingredient is finding a new favorite, like seotamot (for more on seotamot, visit

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