The Foundation Of Food – How To Cook International Cuisines

Aug 24, 2018 | Cooking Tips

In French cooking, there is something known as Mirepoix. This is a combination of two parts onion, one part carrots, and one part celery. This mixture of vegetables makes the base of most French soups, braises, and a lot of sauces. Growing up in a region of the world that takes most of its culinary traditions from England and France it is easy to overlook similar culinary bases from other parts of the world. We simply don’t grow up with them and aren’t really taught them.

The thing is that most regions of the world with a rich culinary history have some form of their own mirepoix. So, today I thought it would be interesting to look at some culinary bases from different parts of the world and different cuisines.

The idea here is that knowing the foundation on which a culture’s flavours are built allows you to create similar flavours. This gives you a much better understanding and starting point when creating or recreating food from these regions.

Think of it like music. These combinations of ingredients are like the key in which a certain piece of music is played. Once you know the key you can figure out the scale, which would be the other ingredients from that region. And then finally, you can add your own embellishments and your own flair.


As I said, in French cooking, we have MirePoix – Onions, Carrots, Celery at a ratio of 2:1:1. Start any soup by sauteeing some mirepoix and you pretty much can’t go wrong. Similarly, when making chicken stock, beef stock or whatever, use mirepoix to enrich and balance the flavour. Or


From Italy, we have Soffritto – Onions, Celery, Garlic, Parsley and sometimes anchovy at a ratio of 2:1:1:1. This base, similar to mirepoix makes the foundation of a lot of Italian food. The anchovy is often added to the Soffritto when a seafood dish is being prepared. If you want your Italian food to taste way more Italian, start with Soffritto. This works just as well for meat sauces like Bolognese as it does soups and braises.


Similar to the Italian Soffritto the Spanish, Portuguese, and Purto Ricans use Sofrito – Onion, Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, and Garlic at a 2:2:2:1 ratio. Next time your making paella start it with Sofrito and you will feel like you are in Spain.


The Germans have something very similar to French Mirepoix called Suppengrün – Leek, Carrot, Celeriac (sometimes parsley, tyme, or onion) at a ratio of 2:1:1. Known as German for soup greens. This combination is used to flavour soups of all things. As you can see, it is very close to the French version using leeks rather than onion and celery root rather than celery. But for that authentic German flavour, Suppengrün is your secret weapon.

The Holy Trinity

Do you like Cajun food? Well, the secret to the unique Cajun flavour is The Holy Trinity – Onions, Bell Peppers and Celery at a ratio of 2:1:1. In Cajun cooking, the Holy Trinity is used more often than any of these other bases. It used in the vast majority of dishes and is a big part of the signature Cajun flavour.


If the Chinese have a name for this, as I’m sure they do, I am unaware of what it is. But in some regions of China a combination of – Green onion, ginger, garlic at an unsurprising ratio of 2:1:1 is used to create some very special flavours. I use this to flavour ground pork along with Chinese Five Spice to make kick-ass wontons or dumplings. This also makes a fantastic starting point for stir-frys or Chinese influenced soups. Really, this combination will make almost anything taste vaguely Chinese.


Like the Chinese base, I’m not sure if there is a name for this Indian version – Onions, Garlic, and Chillies at a ratio of 2:1:1 make an incredible base for some much Indian food. I use this for most of my Indian food. It is so good in so many ways.

These are just a few of the bases that are out there in the world. Most of them aren’t used in every dish but if you want to make food from these regions, starting with these bases will give you a great jumping off point





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