HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


The Role of Texture

How important is texture or mouthfeel to you when evaluating a dish?

I know taste is all important but liquified filet mignon - while maybe tasty - is just wrong.

From what I gather at a cultural standpoint, texture seems to be amore important factor among the asian cuisines than american. Thoughts? I could be totally wrong.

One dish for me which I take to be a great example of the role of texture in cuisine is Ma Po Tofu. The contrast between the silky smooth tofu, slightly firm meat and sauce is the primary reason why this is a favorite.
Any personal examples?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Texture and consistency are huuuge reasons why I don't eat certain foods. For example, I can't do cottage cheese or ricotta cheese. The weird lumps don't sit well with me. I'm also not a yogurt or pudding fan; the viscous consistency...ack.

    While I love mashed potatoes, I can't seem to get into refried beans. They have a similar gritty consistency, but for some reason I can't make myself like refried beans.

    Also can't bring myself to do bean sprouts. The size and smoothness remind me of worms...

    1. Texture is a major player in my eating career. I couldn't eat tomatoes until 3 years ago due to the texture of them (and still can't eat winter tomatoes, they are so mealy and bleah, gross). I also can't eat two things that are too moist/tender together. For example I cooked up some chicken thighs and had an artichoke heart dish on the side. I ate maybe 1/2 of what I would normally have eaten because both had such a similar consistancy. Mealy apples, while still may taste like apples, are thrown to squirrels due to texture.

      1. I'm Asian so perhaps that's why texture matters a great deal to me. I can't eat overcooked mushy vegetables, I want them to have some crunch or chew. I loathe mashed potatoes with a passion and always have.

        I like the emphasis on contrasting flavors and textures which permeates Asian cuisine - sweet and sour, hot and salty, smooth and crunchy, glutinous and chewy. I don't think this approach applies with Western foods which taste much more homogenous to me.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cheryl_h

          Am ready to kill my husband over this very topic. he's very acutely tuned into it and won't even try things that have a consistency he might not like. Am ready to kill him, won't eat my porcini risotto, mussels, olives, oysters, scallops and the list goes on and on. I'm ready to just toss this stuff into a blender and serve it to him as a shake! Me, I can eat anything - except head cheese - .

        2. I agree, texture goes hand in hand with appeal. For instance, I enjoy crunchy foods and often use a crunchy add in to smoother compositions. I love salty textures; even fine grains of salt. I crave a peppery texture adding black pepper to most foods even before tasting. Mouthfeel, hmm.

          Great question!

          1. As for comparing the importance of texture in relation to asian cuisine as opposed to american, I feel as though it plays an equally important role in both. All types of cuisine play on flavors and textures that are appealing together, that's what makes a dish. Now this becomes a gray area when you talk contemporary, as chefs like to push the boundaries. This is why you have a lot of foams,savory ice creams,and gels that normally would be unheard of. It's all a matter of sensations, the experience of eating something not just tasting it. Though each style interprets this differently, I wouldnt say one finds textures more important than the other. It's more a matter of opinion, where one person maybe disgusted by broccoli ice cream another might love it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: FAB

              Agree! At a more fundamental level, I feel that texture is going to be important in every cuisine -- for example, how tough or tender a piece of meat might be would often depend on how and to what extent it was cooked. Ditto for the quality of sauce -- smooth or grainy? How crisp is the skin of a suckling pig? Is th panna cotta to stiff from gelatin? How a particular ingredient is sliced would also be reflected in the final texture of the dish. At the end of the day, the texture of the foods we eat could be reflective to the quality of the technique in the kitchen.

            2. texture is good!!! I am only half Korean, but like a previous poster I love my veggies somewhat underdone and I also like chewy meats. I love eating gristle, cartilage, skin, sometimes fat, and I would rather take the tougher cuts over the softer ones

              1. You are not alone. I'm a texture freak, and sometimes I wish it weren't as important. For example, I get bored with most purees very quickly. The difference in texture between the crunch in gazpacho versus the velvety creamy puree makes all the difference to me.

                I also find that I'm a sucker for uneven textures and sizes. I tend not to like small dice where every vegetable is exactly the same size and texture.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Dave Feldman

                  Have you forund any interesting textural add-ins to pureed soups besides croutons?

                  I put some tortellini - al dente into a cream of broc soup I made recently. And I also had a mexican eggplant caldo which cleverly incorporated puffs of chile relleno.

                  1. re: kare_raisu

                    I add popcorn to cream of corn soup..yum.

                2. I am not sure if this fits your notion of texture. For me, I've always thought that one of the traits of the Cantonese is that they eat for texture. Chicken knee, chicken/duck feet, beef tendon: cartilage, webbing, tendon - texture.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: judge dee

                    THIS is exactly what I was referring to in my asian cuisine generalization.

                    1. re: kare_raisu

                      In that case, a word that for me characterizes the Cantonese traits is "song" (crisp). Their style of Majong is played on a wooden board (not felt as the Shanghainese), with large tiles, and a simpler set of combinations for winning. Their curse words are hard and colorful. And I think their preferences for texture in food fit this characterization.

                  2. Texture has always been very important to me and, as a rule, I dislike it when someone tries to spice up a meal by varying the texture within a single dish. I don't want to be eating something creamy only to be confronted by crispness. I appreciate good bread and the role that crust plays in it, but I'd often prefer to just have the soft interior and forget about the crisp, chewy, impenetrable crust. It's this reason (among others) that I really dislike it when nuts are placed in baked goods. While I'll eat the occasional brownie with walnuts and I'm not going to pick the nuts off my muffin I don't want to be biting into a soft, delicious baked good only to be suddenly confronted with a big hard lump. This goes double for big chunks in ice cream which inevitably end up being hard and ruining the feel (Ben and Jerry's being one of the worst offenders).

                    Food doesn't need to be homogenous, but the texture within a single dish ought to be consistent, not jarring.

                    1. for me a great chef is one who can bring it all together in balance. A mix of textures is an important part in that, along with the mix of flavors (no one ingredient overpowering another)

                      1. SO and I are HUGE texture people... but on different ends of the spectrum...

                        I love the mixture of textures as much as the mixture of flavors. One of my favorite things is a Sushi handroll with CRISP and smokey Nori, Smooshy and Flavorful Rice and a great filling (Usually uni or blue crab. :))

                        SO is sensitive to texture to the point he really doesn't enjoy squishy thing (AH! More tapioca pudding for me!) or chewy things (I have yet to con someone into going to my Secret Recipe for Baby Octopus!). He also freaks out at my love for crunchy things mixed into my squishy things (Like grape nuts in my yogurt... :))


                        1. I never thought of it as an asian thing before, but I *do* appreciate foods for their textures, and really like contrasting textures, too. Mrs. ricepad (who is not asian) likes some contrasting combinations (granola in yogurt is one of her faves), but she cringes when she sees/hears me happily crunching on cartilage and gristle, and does not understand the siren's call of a chicken foot.

                          1. Texture is hugely important when I am eating.

                            I can't eat some pastas because of their thickness/texture. I like spaghettini, but spaghetti grosses me out. And forget about any pasta/noodles that are just plain overcooked. Also, lettuce and tomatoes cannot come near my hamburgers.

                            I love contrasting textures in dishes. Rice vermicelli with the crispness of raw cilantro, the crunch of peanuts, all in one mouthful - it's heaven for me.