Iron Chef Michael Symon's Guide to Following Recipes

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Iron Chef Michael Symon

NIC4 Episode 6 Secret Ingredient Showdown

Judge Iron Chef Michael Symon deliberating for Episode 6 Secret Ingredient "Panko & Ponzu" Showdown as seen on Food Network Next Iron Chef Season 4.

Photo by: Edward Chen/Creel Films ©2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

Edward Chen/Creel Films, 2011, Television Food Network, G.P.

How many times have you searched for the ultimate recipe only to find one that's nearly what you're looking for but features perhaps a single ingredient or flavor that you simply can't bare? When that happens, do you scrap the recipe altogether, vowing to find one that's perfect, or do you settle for the undesired taste because the rest of the recipe fits the bill? We caught up with Iron Chef Michael Symon at the 2013 South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and he told us that instead of an all-or-nothing approach to recipes, look at them as detailed suggestions you can use to build the dish that best suits your tastes.

"Let your palate be your guide," Iron Chef Symon said. He was reminded of a time that his father suffered through a batch of salsa that, while it was made according to its recipe's instructions, boasted cilantro, an herb his father doesn't like. Looking back on the moment now, Iron Chef Symon recalled that it would have been perfectly acceptable for his father to swap in other "soft, leafy herbs" for the cilantro so as to keep with his preferences and ultimately allow him to enjoy the dish.

Smart substitutions are key when deviating from recipes. Iron Chef Symon admits that while basil and parsley would have been fine additions to salsa, rosemary would not, given that its flavor and texture are too dissimilar from the original ingredient. Think of ingredient combinations that you know work well together, and let those lead you to a choice ingredient that's both keeping with the recipe and a favorite of you and your family.

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