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What do you cook with that you've never tasted raw or plain?

Excluding things contraindicated for safety reasons, I taste everything I eat or cook with plain at least once. Some items that have been pointed out as "you would never eat/taste that plain" on another thread:
Vinegar
Salt
Pepper
Vanilla
Baking chocolate
Fish sauce

I have tasted all of these things plain. It's part of how I know whether it's worth it to pay $30/lb for chocolate or $3/lb, whether the $25 a bottle vanilla is better, or just how salty the fish sauce is. I don't expect these ingredients to taste great on their own or raw, but I find the flavor knowldge of them solo useful. I find I am more aware of subtleties in the finished dish when I have a mental flavor reference of the individual ingredients.
We all recognize that some things just taste better made a certain way, or the wisdom that quality ingredients make for a better product. I think knowing what specific things taste like alone is educational on these points and helps make me a better cook.

There seems to be a conceptual dividing line for tasting things plain that certain foods just do not cross in peoples' minds. Apparently mine is either broken or was deleted at some point.

Do you do this? What is your dividing line, or how do you classify things that you want to taste plain or raw vs. those you wouldn't? Is this based on a fear of the yuck factor, or something else?

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  1. Raw sweetbreads, brains & kidneys.
    Raw Chicken.
    Raw pasta dough.
    Raw pizza dough.

    I have zero qualms eating other raw meats. The dough is just... eh. No point.

    6 Replies
      1. re: linguafood

        I agree on all of the above except the pasta dough...not fresh dough but as a kid I loved to chomp on macaroni noodles.

        1. re: linguafood

          I love eating raw dough of any kind. Even pasta or pizza dough.

          But yeah, I don't think I'd eat any meat raw except some high quality beef or fish raw. Just the fear factor there.

          I also have not tasted fish sauce by itself... the smell is enough. Same w/ most vinegars.

          I did eat baking chocolate when I was a kid thinking it would taste just like real chocolate. I thought my mom was holding out on me by keeping it in the cupboard for so long.

          1. re: juliejulez

            yea, I always taste my raw pizza and bread dough. With sourdough, I like to have a reference of how sour it is relative to whatever I did with my starter, but also to make sure I didn't forget the salt.

            Fish sauce smells way funkier than it tastes, actually. It's one of the ways I got less afraid of adding it to things that wouldn't ever call for it.

            1. re: juliejulez

              Me too. As a kid my mom had to chase me away from any kind of dough. I don't bake often, but when I do, it's a doughtastic day :)

              1. re: Nudibranch

                Haha me too. The best is the potato cinnamon rolls, I always leave the little end bits after rolling up the dough to eat raw :)

          2. Cooking oil. I mean grapeseed / peanut / canola etc.

              1. Prairie oysters. Lungs. Nervous tissue.

                I've tried other abats raw but for the first two I just didn't think of it. Can't see the lung being any better raw than cooked (and it's pretty bad cooked with that spongy texture). As for the nervous tissue (brain, spinal cord, eyes, large nerves), I know what EAE is so that would be a "no".

                Can't think of a vegetable that I haven't tried raw (that would include fiddleheads), and as for pantry staples, I've gone so far as to taste things like flour and corn starch.

                2 Replies
                1. re: wattacetti

                  Ot, but Is EAE different from CJD in that cooking destroys the offending proteins?

                  1. re: splatgirl

                    EAE = experimental autoimmune encephalopathy, a disease that looks very much like multiple sclerosis. I know the guy who accidentally came upon it and described it in literature while attempting to make antibodies against myelin basic protein. MBP is thermolabile but the antigenic fragments don't necessarily get fully destroyed with cooking, so I still steer clear.

                    The prions in CJD are heat-resistant, but chances are excellent that I will never get CJD by ingestion because the source would require dabbling in a bit of cannibalism. I've also done the calculation to figure out the approximate amount of purified prion from say BSE to be able to jump the species barrier - *way* more afraid of EAE.

                2. meat
                  sauces (marinara, gravy)
                  bread dough
                  pasta