The Savory Ingredient Andrea Nguyen Adds To Chocolate Sorbet

It's common knowledge that chocolate pairs well with fruits, nuts, and other sweet ingredients. But, what if we told you that chocolate can work with savory ingredients as well? You might be surprised to find out that chef and cookbook author, Andrea Nguyen, adds an unlikely savory ingredient to her chocolate sorbet — and don't even get us started on the toppings.

Sweet and savory is a combination that many of us know all too well. Whether it's the nostalgia of a PB&J or the oh-so-tempting slice of pineapple pizza, our bodies are actually hardwired to crave the improbable duo. According to Eater, certain sugar receptors on the tongue can only be activated when salt is present, which can enhance taste and layer flavor. Yet, while a milk-chocolate covered pretzel is a shining example of sweet-meets-salty, what about pairing cocoa with more savory fare like meat, fish, or funky cheese?

Forget everything you ever thought about chocolate. Rather than consider chocolate as a sweet treat, think of it instead as a raw ingredient, urges Bon Appétit. With hundreds of aroma molecules, pure cocoa can be quite bitter, but can also have a vast range of nuanced flavors that are herbaceous, earthy, floral, nutty, fruit-forward, and even spicy, explains The Washington Post. Unsurprisingly, chocolate with higher cocoa levels can pair with just about anything, even fish sauce.

Add fish sauce for an umami twist

Chocolate, much like fish sauce, has been used in savory recipes like stews to add flavor complexity. While chocolate can add a bit of bitterness, fish sauce instead adds umami richness. Made by fermenting fish (namely, anchovies) with salt over a period of time, Allrecipes explains that the final product is a salty condiment with a bit of tang and a punch of funk, that's similar to soy sauce, miso, or Worcestershire. So, how does this relate to chocolate sorbet?

In her blog Viet World Kitchen, Nguyen writes that she was inspired by a flavor pairing of chocolate truffle and fish sauce that she experienced at the Culinary Institute of America Worlds of Flavor conference. Inspired once again by Brian Levy's recipe for dark chocolate sorbet, she decided to take some creative liberties, swapping sea salt for fish sauce. The resulting dairy-free delight proved to be full of depth and savory flavor, thanks to the delicate use of fish sauce.

If that weren't enough, the Vietnamese-born chef even took to Instagram, sharing that she likes to amp up the umami even further by adding a bit of crunch with a drizzle of crispy chili oil. Are you just as pleasantly intrigued by this insane flavor combination as we are?