Burnt is my favorite flavour. Not “charred”, but burnt. A flavour so strong that it can ruin a dish or turn it into a great balanced one. I am not talking only about turning vegetables into ashes or using charred vegetables as a garnish. Burnt is a great source of complexity for dishes in any form – purees, broths, sauces or anything else. It only recalls a little bit of acidity or sweetness to contrast and highlight the charred notes.
I know not everyone likes burnt flavours, specially because of its bitter part, but it’s really all about balance and layers. The character that food wins over charcoal grills captives me. As a chef I am deeply intrigued by the complexity of flavours which develop between bitter and smoky as a result of a deep Maillard reaction and caramelisation.
Diego Prado, Basque Culinary Center (San Sebastian, Spain)