Monday, January 9, 2012

Vegetable Base

Also called Soup Greens, Aromatic Vegetables or Trinity.) The base is the large volume of soup greens (onions, celery, carrot, tomato, bell pepper,) cut into small pieces, slowly steamed and simmered 15-30 min.
The base keeps the solids and evaporates the liquid, concentrating the flavors. This is the opposite of stock, which keeps the liquid and wastes the solids.

- India: onion, tomato
- France: onion, carrot, celery (mirepoix)
- Italy: onion, tomato (soffritto)
- Spain: onion, tomato (sofrito)
- American Cajun: onion, celery, bell pepper (holy trinity)
A base is often associated with smaller amount of seasonings (garlic, ginger, thyme, parsley,) to make a signature taste.

Small pieces are simmered in a covered saucepan in their own moisture and steam, gradually passing through bright and firm, then becoming dull and wilted as fiber breaks down. Onions become translucent. Avoid burning by using a low heat, occasionally stir, and adding a splash of stock or water.
Small pieces are dry roasted in an uncovered saucepan, as their outsides dry out, quickly passing through golden, then brown, as sugars cook. This brings out sweetness and flavor. Avoid burning by scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon, and adding a splash of stock or water.
Deglazing uses a splash of stock or water on a hot saucepan, which rapidly steams, to lift and mix the browned pieces. Use hot stock or water from a saucepan on the stove.
Tomatoes, which contains lots of tomato juice, can be used both as base (small amounts) and liquid (larger amounts.) I’ll often deglaze onions with tomatoes. I’ll reserve most of my tomatoes, especially canned tomatoes in juice, until after my base vegetables have browned and sweated.

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