to brown or not to brown?
i'm referring to the western method of browning meats vs. the korean method of not browning meats (making kimchi jigae, for example)....
the koreans (my wife included) say that there is no need to brown the meat to develop the flavor. this is different from blanching the meat, which they do sometimes.
the western method seems to always start with browning the meat to develop flavor and render some fat.
I find the same question in some of the Indian cooking I've been doing lately. Sometimes the meat is browned, but often it is stewed with browning. Although I prefer the browning--maybe because that's what I grew up with and am used to--I keep wondering if I should try it the other way and see how that changes the balance of flavors.
Browning before adding the liquid develops one kind of flavor, but it certainly isn't the only way of adding flavor. It's contribution is more significant in lightly spiced French style dishes, less so in Indian or Korean. And even in France there are classic dishes that don't use it, for example Pot-au-feu. In addition, in a long braise the meat that is exposed to the hot air above the liquid, and juices that collect on the pot sides and lid, experience the same sort of browning. That is, the braising itself develops this type of flavor.
According to Robuchon, poaching is cooking by total immersion in liquid. Braising is 'cooking in a closed vessel, with some liquid and vegetables, spices or herbs.' Yes, he does add that the meat is 'usually browned'. Stewing is 'slow, covered cooking in a good deal of sauce of liquid'.
There is an article in today's NY Times discussing just this issue. The writer discusses both Moroccan and Vietnamese dishes where the meat is not browned. He considers the resulting flavors to be lighter but no less interesting and feels it may be a good way to work with stews and such in warmer weather.
Here's the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/30/din...
thanks for sharing that escondido...it's interesting.
according to my korean wife, the reason why they don't brown meats as much is because they don't use a lot of oil in their cooking, unless it's for frying and for seasoning. it's not a big part of their cooking culture - but they do use a lot of broths and they braise sometimes.