Foods/ingredients that are impossible to re-create

ryseryse_2004January 16, 2014

My list of these things:

Hellman's Mayonnaise
V8 juice
Kentucky fried chicken (original recipe)

I have tried for years - decades actually, to make these and have decided it is impossible to replicate the taste.

I make and can vegetable juice every fall and it can never be quite as good as V8. It is good, but not AS GOOD.

Same with chicken - my fried chicken is tasty but for really great, I have to go to KFC.

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ryse, you can't replicate KFC without a pressure fryer, that's not done on top of the stove or with a deep fryer.

I actually like my own homecanned vegetable juice better than V8 but it is different every time, depending on what I have to put in it.

I use very little mayonnaise, so I just make homemade, although I've learned not to use olive oil, it gives a different flavor. I like it no better and no worse than Hellman's but I don't usually use mayonnaise by itself, I put it in stuff so the other flavors cover it up. So I buy the store brand because I don't really care one way or the other. I am so not brand loyal, LOL.

What I can't replicate is A&W rootbeer from the drive-in. It's just not the same in cans or bottles. (sigh)

Meanwhile, my mother is still bemoaning the loss of her beloved Dolly Madison Zingers, the raspberry and coconut covered ones.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 5:55PM
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I have been unable to recreate Japanese pickles that I get at the Japanese deli. I also cannot recreate their seaweed salad, although I have come closer to than than I have with the pickles. I would really like to be able to make the cucumber pickles. They are refrigerator pickles and do not keep very long. I bought a pickle press to make them, but have not stumbled upon the correct recipe, and I have books on Japanese pickles.

I do put some olive oil in the mayonnaise that I make, and it has a different flavor, but I like it. Normally I add my roasted habanero sauce to mayo, especially if it is going on a sandwich. I buy Best Foods, which is what Hellman's is called west of the Rockies.

I've not made Clamato juice, and I used to drink that a lot.


    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 7:28PM
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Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing - dang, that stuff is good!
I have tried making copycat recipes for it but nothing comes close.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 10:43PM
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About ten years ago, I was in a little restaurant in one of Taipei's night markets. Not exactly a restaurant, more of a street food place that had put a couple of tables and plastic chairs in an alley, outside a small garage of bare concrete where the food was cooked on some propane burners under a few bare fluorescent tubes. It was hot, maybe 80 F, and sticky. We were drinking sweating bottles of Tiger Beer. It was probably about midnight. The girl brought a plastic bowl with some jiggling, partly translucent cubes. They looked like dirty brown jello, about an inch square. I picked one up with my chopsticks, put it on my tongue, and closed my mouth. Before I could start to chew, the cube suddenly melted, collapsing, and my mouth was flooded with succulent meaty liquid. It was like consomme in a cube.

I've tried to duplicate that. It was, I assume, stock with just the right gelatin content that it was solid at 80 F but liquid at 98 F, and served right on the edge of the liquefication temperature, so that just a couple seconds of the heat from your mouth causes the cube to instantly melt. In my attempts to make this dish, I've produced many trays of, well, basically aspic. Tasty to be sure but not the desired goal, and most of them ended up being used for making stock.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 10:59PM
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I make a Ranch dressing that is even better than Hidden Valley, and I use fresh dill and fresh garlic, giving it a brighter taste. I make several variations of it, and normally add fresh ground pepper and fresh lemon juice. Sometimes I make it into a dip with sour cream and mayonnaise, but for a salad dressing, I thin it with buttermilk. If you want it to taste more like the bottled (or package) version, you can use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 11:37AM
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Annie -

I've made homemade root beer, and I've also made a "foggy" batch made with water, sugar, dry ice and root beer flavoring that is a favorite for Halloween Parties (which is really good stuff). Another option is to make a small batch of root beer in a recycled 2-liter bottle.

The link below makes up an A&W-like syrup you mix into soda water you might like.


Here is a link that might be useful: Top Secret Recipes

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 12:03PM
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Circus Peanut

Chicken tikka masala!

I've tried many, many times -- invariably it turns out as Chicken With Orange Yoghurt over Rice. Is a tandoor oven the secret to authentic Indian recipes?

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 12:09PM
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Trouble with chicken tikka masala? Its on my list of things to try to make. I'll try it and post the results.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 12:21PM
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So, Publickman, are you going to share your recipe? I'm very interested. Please.....

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 12:39PM
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Thanks, Grainlady, I'll have to try that. I like root beer and I tried actually making my own with fermented roots and etc. It was absolutely horrendous stuff, ewwww.

I occasionally buy bottles or cans, but it just doesn't taste like the stuff I can still get in the frosty mug at the local A&W where the carhops still come out to the car and hang the tray on your window.

I'll bet Bud would have a ball making his own root beer though, so thanks!


    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 2:31PM
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Yes, Publickman, please share your recipe. I haven't given up on duplicating the ranch dressing, just got discouraged.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2014 at 6:36PM
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Chicken Tikka is a British dish according to many people !!!

Here's a Jamie Oliver recipe - his are always good.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 4:15AM
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johnliu, what did you use for your gelatin? I'm going to take a WAG and say that something like homemade cow's foot gelatin will make the difference....

Way back in the 1980s there was a little Bolivian food place in the area, and the lines of people would form to get their fabulous Saltenas. I just searched on-line and you can actually find what they are and how they are made, but that wasn't the case way back then! Somehow in 1995 I found a recipe for saltenas, but it wasn't written in English. Luckily I worked with a guy whose brother worked at the Consulate in Bolivia, and his secretary translated the recipe for me. :o) In her translation, the recipe called for "condensed cow's foot gelatin" -- or a substitute of Knox gelatin. My saltenas were good when made with Knox gelatin, but not great like theirs.

BTW: what really sucks is that the Bolivians running the place were discovered to be illegal aliens and they were ejected from the country. Really sad for us because their Saltenas were wonderful! :(

This post was edited by party_music50 on Sat, Jan 18, 14 at 8:28

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 8:21AM
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The first one that comes to mind is Knorr lobster Newburg sauce. Even when I was using the powdered mix (add milk, butter and sherry), I must have tried a dozen recipes to make it from scratch. None were as good as the mix.

Knorr dropped it from their product line about 10 years ago and the following year from their commercial line. I first started using it when Stouffer's stopped making frozen Lobster Newburg about 20 years ago.

Although I've tried many alternatives, I can't get the same results with some 1950's and 60's salad dressings without using their raw eggs as an emulsifier.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 9:11AM
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johnliu, i recently made a chicken paw stock that came very close to your description. Just need to clip the tips of the toes. I used it for dumplings but it was so lovely that we both tasted it in its firm chilled form.

I prefer my v8 and clamato over the 'brands'. (have you looked at the ingredients, yikes)
Same with mayo. We prefer our own. Poke me with a fork and i'll admit Hell-mans is superior to all the others but i don't want all that soybean oil and preservatives. I like it fresh and like to know what's in it. Our everyday is spiced and jazzed non-fat greek yogurt. A couple times a year i'll whip in a soft boiled egg and some ev olive oil, lemon, etc., in a blender.
The cooked egg white makes it nice and thick. Very close to Hellmans without the oily taste.

I've not had KFC that i know of. Maybe as a teen. I'm guessing i would love it, then feel sick.
Don't fry at home but a few spiced yogurt marinated recipes, skinless, tossed in breadcrumbs, then baked, look good.
If we had a fast food craving we would probably treat ourselves once in a while. Especially being so good at home. It's the juices and condiments that are used so often that i feel are so important to find a homemade replacement.
For us it is Worcestershire, Old Bay, (the no added salt one), and Sriracha that i can think of that we have no desire to make at home.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 10:39AM
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I don't really have a recipe for Ranch dressing - I just make off the cuff. Anyway, here is my method:

Take 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly, and mash them in a mortar and pestle with some Kosher salt to make a paste - probably about half a teaspoon of salt, but you can adjust that to your taste. For some reason, mashing the garlic this way affects its flavor and seems to mellow it out a bit. Then add about 1/2 to one teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and mash that together. Next add some fresh dill - about two tablespoons chopped, and mash that with the garlic. Then transfer all of that to a bowl and add the juice of one lemon. Then add 1/2 cup sour cream and 1/2 cup mayonnaise, stir together, and store in the fridge for at least an hour to let the flavors mingle. At this point, it is a very tasty dip for vegetable or chips, but if you want to make it into a salad dressing, you can thin it with buttermilk to the consistency you want. This dip is very addictive with potato chips, and so I warn against serving them together, except at a party. You may want more or less lemon juice than I use, and so add that to taste, like the rest of the ingredients! If the flavor is too intense, you can add more sour cream/mayo.

Sorry I can't give you exact measurements, but I always just sort of throw it together, and so I do it by sight. Making it in the blender does not yield the same results as making it in a mortar and pestle - the garlic needs to be smashed with the salt, but you can also do this with the side of a knife on a chopping board.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 12:34PM
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Ojai Lemonaise Light. It's a soy based mayo substitute that I discovered several years ago at a local specialty store. I then found it at a small market near our lake place. The store closed and the market was bought out by a large chain. The only way I can get it is online, and the shipping costs nearly double the price. I love it on my turkey & chicken sandwiches and have tried without luck to duplicate it. It's light & lemony without being too highly seasoned. But it still imparts a flavor I don't get w/ any other spread.

This post was edited by amck on Sat, Jan 18, 14 at 15:30

    Bookmark   January 18, 2014 at 2:28PM
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We would love to duplicate Sara Lee's Butter Streusel Coffee Cake; it can be found in the frozen food case of a few stores. The butter streusel topping should be easy to create, but it hasn't been yet. The flavor of each bite is so rich, and no doubt it includes some ingredients that are awful for us, but we'd still like to know how to make it ourselves.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sara Lee Butter Streusel Coffee Cake

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 12:09AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I think most of the foods we can't easily duplicate at home contain huge amounts of msg and that's not something home cooks want to add.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 12:39AM
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Eggplant Tofu from Panda Express. One Panda Express employee said the dish was not popular in AZ so they removed it from the menu. Unfortunately, last year when I was in a Panda Express in L.A. I did not see it on the menu either.

It should not be too hard to make, yet I have tried to recreate the dish many times, but just could not get the same taste. Not sure if it was the sauce, tofu, or temperature, or...etc.

This post was edited by azmom on Sun, Jan 19, 14 at 13:59

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 5:34AM
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>>most of the foods we can't easily duplicate at home contain huge amounts of msg>>

Not necessarily. Additives for keeping food fresh, yes. MSG, not so much.

RyseRyse, I was reading an article on famous European chefs who visit the US and three out of five confessed that although they use made-from-scratch mayo in their restaurants, when they're visiting the US they buy JARS of Hellmann's/Best Foods mayo (same stuff, just West vs East Coast brand names), stick it in their luggage, and cart it back to use in their own homes. I got a good laugh out of that, we always buy the Best Foods mayo as well.

My DH prefers KFC or homemade fried chicken because he hates the extra-crispy, very crusty batter-fried chicken that is all the rage out here. He likes a light soft flour coating, or just an egg batter pan-fry.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2014 at 8:55PM
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Last night while enjoying burritos I had made, for a fleeting moment, I remembered Chi Chi's chicken chimichangas. I haven't had one since the 80's when Chi Chi's closed in our area.

I would love to know the secret of a chi chi's chimichanga.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2014 at 9:13AM
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