Thermal cooking medium, enhances mouthfeel and flavor.

What are the fundamentals of fat?

Fat is an energy source in many ingredients and an effective conductor of high heat. This makes it a better thermal medium than water in various cooking techniques, such as or .

Fat can transport heat at much higher temperatures to food before breaking down, unlike which evaporates at 212°F.

  • This is why you add oil to a pan instead of water before cooking.
  • Additionally, fat bridges the gap between a hot cooking surface and oddly shaped ingredients, and its viscous texture helps hold onto and transfer heat to the surfaces of those ingredients.

Fat also dissolves and carries aromatic compounds, so it’s invaluable for building flavor in cooking.

Fat affects texture primarily through mouthfeel: food cannot be or without the presence of fat.

💡 Energy: 9 calories per gram
🧪 Fat-related reactions:
🛠️ Fat-related techniques:

Fat-rich foods

  • Avocado
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Ribeye steak
  • Seeds & nuts

How does fat affect the elements of flavor?

In order of importance:

— Fat coats the tongue, which gives an unctuous (oily) mouthfeel, which prevents foods from feeling dry.

— Fat is calorically dense and historically hard to come by — we’re biologically wired to crave and gorge on fatty foods.

— Some fats, like processed neutral oils, are odorless. Other kinds of fat, like olive oil or beef tallow, have lots of flavor from aromatic compounds that they carry.

— Some oils have different colors or can pick up colors of ingredients and be used for garnish, which enhances the visual presentation of finished dishes.

— Certain cultures have traditions of using different fats for flavor and cooking.

— Fats usually do not have a “taste” of their own; their flavor comes primarily from dissolved aroma molecules they carry.

Fat Carries Flavor