Coffee and tea are probably the most common sources of a bitter taste in most people’s diets. Beers can be bitter, as can certain additives in fancy cocktails (such as Angostura bitters). For older folks, a common bitter flavor is the aftertaste of a chlorhexidine rinse. But Chinese foods also use bitter tastes, such as this beef with bitter melon in black bean sauce, from Canton Cooks:

To note, bitter melon is quite bitter, but hardly in the same league as chlorhexidine. The most interesting bitter flavor I’ve run into recently is Chinese broccoli. If you go to Ming’s Bar BQ and order a dish rich with broccoli, they’ll ask, “leaf broccoli or crown broccoli?”, or perhaps “Chinese broccoli or crown broccoli?” The Chinese product has a stem and a large dark green leaf, and a very mild bitter flavor. I’d say the dominant flavor and textures I note in Chinese broccoli are the freshness of the green vegetable and the sweetness of it.  The combination of green freshness, sweetness, and a bitter so mild it could be a bubblegum flavor are an interesting and refreshing combination.

Have you encountered an interesting flavor combination recently? Care to post about it?