Four Tips for Successful Cannabis Food Pairings
Gourmet cannabis dining is quickly becoming one of the most popular events to attend in the industry. Now that recreational use laws have passed, new consumers are also beginning to enjoy these gourmet experiences that perfectly pair cannabis and cuisine.
If you are a novice to pairings, no need to worry. Matching cannabis and food is fun and easy. You do not have to learn any difficult rules or systems to select the best combination. The following simple tips can help you master the art of integrating flavors. Just remember these four letters: B.I.T.E.
When pairing cannabis and food, the weight of the meal and weight of the strain must be balanced. Weight in food is determined by body and richness. Think of a thick Bolognese pasta sauce dish compared to Linguine and olive oil, or a grilled steak compared to poached fish. Pay attention to the fat content of the food you are cooking with and be sure to consider your cooking technique and any sauces or dressings used.
For cannabis, weight is determined by the strain’s side effects and potency. The profile of the cannabis strain should match the recipe's characteristics when cooking. For example, a light, refreshing salad requires a light, energizing weed strain such as a Sativa. On the other hand, a heartier meal requires a heartier strain such as Indica, and so on.
We typically recommend pairing Sativa strains with lighter foods including fresh salads, dips, smoothies, oven roasted chicken and seafood pastas. Indicas typically pair best with richer foods including pan seared steak, red sauce pastas, pizza, mushroom risotto, truffle mashed potatoes and cornbread due to the strain’s comforting side effects.
Hybrid strains are also a great choice when cooking and can offer the best combination of both worlds. Just remember to asses the strain's side effects and potency in order to achieve your desired pairing results.
Your intention for the meal also plays a big factor in determining the best cannabis and food pairings. If you are looking to have a relaxed night at home, an Indica strain is the preferred option for cooking. If you are hosting a culinary dining experience with friends, you should consider using a Sativa so your guests feel uplifted and social rather than sleepy or couch locked.
The time of day you’ll be eating should also be a consideration. If you are making a breakfast meal, be sure to cook with a strain that will boost energy so you can have a productive day. If you are cooking at night, use your best judgment to determine how you want to feel after eating the meal.
If you are a medical marijuana patient, you should also consider what therapeutic effect you wish to achieve. If you are looking to fight depression, cook with a Sativa. If you need a sleep aid, an Indica strain should be included in your recipe.
Combining cannabis and other healing roots and herbs such as turmeric, ginger root, chamomile, lemongrass and thyme can also greatly improve your immune system and boost daily vitamin intake. Growing your own garden herbs allows you to use these ingredients at the height of their potency - just after trimming - for best therapeutic results.
Smoothies or pressed juices are another great way to combine healing ingredients. They are quick and easy to make as long as you have a food processor or blender at home.
The most important factor to consider when pairing cannabis and food is the actual taste of the ingredients. Flavors and aromas are what make a great meal, so pay close attention to the recipe and get to know your cannabis terpene profiles.
As a reminder, terpenes are the chemical compounds in cannabis that produce a wide spectrum of aromas including citrus, cooking spices, floral notes and earthy smells. Terpenes are also produced by common fruits and vegetables which allows for easy cannabis pairings based on similar flavor profiles (see our Terpene & Aroma Pairing Guide here). The aromas of cannabis often remind us of certain spices and herbs as well, so be sure to look for flavor links.
To determine the best taste combination, identify the most prominent character in the dish and match that characteristic to the weed. For example, if you are making salmon with citrus lemon sauce, use a strain that has higher levels of Limonene when infusing olive oil or butter (see our CannaOil recipe and CannaButter recipe). Lemon Haze is one of our top cooking choices for any citrusy recipe. OG Kush is great option for recipes containing fresh garden herbs or herbaceous characteristics.
To best preserve the terpene profiles in the cannabis, be sure to cook at low temperatures. Recipes that don’t require heat such as a salad can often be more potent, so keep safe dosing in mind when eating an infused meal.
The final tip to a successful cannabis pairing is to enjoy it! There are so many incredible culinary creations that can be made at home. The combinations are endless.
For additional inspiration, it is helpful to attend a cannabis infused dinner prepared by a professional catering team. Sous Weed, a San Francisco-based company, is dedicated to using cannabis in their recipes and offer gourmet pop-up dinners and culinary private events. Check out their dinner options here.
As many top chefs continue to innovate cannabis use in the kitchen, we will continue to learn about creative ways to combine flavors and aromas. Start practicing some recipes and invite your friends over for a one-of-kind dining experience they’ll never forget. Just remember these four simple letters: B.I.T.E.
Peace, Love and Cannabis,
The Herb Somm
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