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Harmony in your dishes when using extra virgin olive oil?

Harmony in any dish made with extra virgin olive oil depends, to a great extent, on a well-balanced combination. The result is a completely explosive taste experience on the palate in which the flavour of the extra virgin olive oil does not dominate that of the raw material, and vice versa. The key to success in achieving synergy and harmony between extra virgin olive oil and the other foods in ad dish lies exclusively in the concepts of similarity or complementarity of taste and intensity, both qualitative and quantitative, complying with the following basic rules.

  • Similarity between flavour intensities: mild dishes should be combined with milder extra virgin olive oil varieties and medium-intensity dishes with equally intense oils, ensuring that neither flavour overwhelms the other. 
  • Similarity between aromatic intensities: an aromatic dish seeks an equal fragrant extra virgin olive oil, just as a food with floral aromas, for example, demands an olive oil with a similar aromatic identity. 
  • Sweet on sweet: those juices with a "sweet" fruit flavour want to be combined with intense aromatic flavours. For example, low-fat cheeses, shellfish, seafood, poultry and vegetables need an extra virgin olive oil with intense fruity aromas. 
  • Beware of oily flavours: these require moderation. We achieve this by selecting a very fruity extra virgin olive oil with a pronounced spiciness or bitterness. 
  • In search of balance: we often want an extra "something" to enhance the intensity of a food's taste. For example, by adding few drops of an intensely fruity extra virgin olive oil is an gazpacho, chicken or fish fillet we enrich its taste. 
  • Restricting very intense flavours: just as two intense characters collide, harmony in taste can only be achieved by concealing and moderating those very intense flavours. For example, a robust extra virgin olive oil with strong bitter and spicy aromas will march better with a mildly flavoured raw material. 

There is only one way to master all these basic rules and that is through experimentation. Even if we think we know the taste characteristics of each olive variety, extra virgin olive oil seems to possess an infinite capacity to transform itself when combined with different ingredients. If you wan to practice read this post about paring.