Ingredients which pair with vanilla

Morning Glory

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In support of the The Spice Challenge - (November 2017), here are a few ideas about ingredients to pair with vanilla. As we all know, vanilla is most commonly used in cakes and desserts flavours but it can also be used in savoury combinations. Here are some ideas for both sweet and savoury:

The Flavour Thesaurus (Niki Segnit) includes the following ingredients to pair with vanilla: apple, apricot, banana, cardamon, chestnuts, chocolate, cloves, coconut, coffee, nutmeg, rhubarb, shellfish and tomato. The latter surprised me - but as she writes:
When used in moderation, Mexican vanilla, which has a spicy quality, draws out similar spiciness in tomato based dishes, while taking the edge off the acidity. Some recommend a touch of Mexican vanilla in a tomatoey chilli con carne, but a bolder cook might pair just the two in a soup.

The Vanilla Queen: http://www.vanillaqueen.com/vanilla-in-savory-foods-really/ suggests the following savoury ingredients: duck, fish, prawns, pork, lamb and beef. Paul Gaylor, in his book 'Flavours' also mentions pork, and fish but adds chicken to the list. The book includes recipes for pork loin cooked in vanilla milk and curried turbot with vanilla and ginger. He also suggests adding a few drops of vanilla to fruit salads, mayonnaise, béarnaise sauce and meat glazes.

I also found quite a few Madagascan curry recipes which include vanilla - usually in combination with coconut. My own thought was ham. Ham in cola is a tried and tested recipe (cola contains vanilla) so adding vanilla to ham glaze could work.

What about vegetables? The Vanilla Queen suggests:
Carrots, beets, corn, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, fresh English peas. They’re naturally sweet, aren’t they? Adding a few drops of vanilla won’t make them sweeter; it will simply underscore their sweetness. You’re just adding one short brushstroke to the canvas when you put in vanilla . What about the fresh corn or peas you thought would be sweet, but instead they’re kind of starchy or flat. Add a few extra drops of vanilla to kick them up a notch.
@The Late Night Gourmet has posted a fascinating recipe using potatoes: Recipe Potatoes Roasted in Vanilla Pepper Oil. My own thoughts are that parsnips with vanilla would be good pairing, to emphasise the woody sweet flavour. I'm also wondering about beetroot...
 
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Elawin

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Vanilla is used extensively in Austrian and German cookery, as well as Greek, but nearly all of these are sweet dishes although German/Austrian dumplings can be savoury and can have a sweet vanilla sauce on them but I have never eaten them like that. I've never really given much thought to savoury recipes containing vanilla although there are plenty of such recipes on the internet. If I ever remember to get some vanilla when I go shopping, I might give a savoury dish a try, but I can't make my mind up whether savoury + vanilla appeals to me or not.
 

ElizabethB

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@morning glory

Your choice of vanilla has made me look at my savory cooking. I never realized how many dishes include vanilla. Mexican vanilla is my favorite - I do have to look for it.

Many years ago G's parents lived close to the Mexican border - MeeMaw in Macallen, Tx. and PeePaw in Aransas Pass, Tx. I remember visiting and making a day trip to Mexico for vanilla. We would bring home a half dozen large bottles of Mexican Vanilla. Beautiful stuff. It was also very cheap. $1 to $2 for a quart.
 
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