5 Flavor-Boosting Tips in Asian Cuisine To Fix A Bland Recipe
Cook up a storm then end up squinting your eyes looking into an empty space and trying to figure out what is missing. We have all been there. Your taste buds need something more to feel the flavors, but you are not so sure. So the question is – How to boost the flavor? Check out these tips/ ingredients; they can be a great help.
5 Asian Cuisine Tips To Boost The Flavor
Bold flavors and intense aromas, these are what Asian cuisine has long been known for. Each category below can leverage your dish and your cooking skills to a whole new level.
Asian spices come in 3 levels of heat – light, medium, and strong. If you want something versatile that can go in almost every dish, especially for stir-frying and marinating, such light spices as garlic, shallot, and lemongrass will be an ideal choice.
Going up in the spice ladder, we have galangal, turmeric, ginger, and saffron. They are medium spices that can give a little bit tangy but not too spicy flavors.
Chilli, pepper, and cumin are some of the strong spices; just a little amount of them can make a huge difference for your dish. Vietnamese cuisine is a role model in using spices. Remember that magical feeling when you have a sip of “Pho” broth?
Their secret is cinnamon, black cardamom, star anise, clove, and coriander seeds. These are all strong spices, and a combination of them in the broth brings out a “healing” feeling in the noodle soup.
Using spices is the most common way to enhance a bland recipe. But don’t overuse them; otherwise, the original flavor of the main ingredient (meat/ vegetable) will be compromised.
A garnish of fresh herbs can be a game-changer. In Asian cuisine, most herbs are used when they are still fresh so that the “mentos” feeling will always be strongest.
The list of herbs can go on for days. Here we are talking about those that are most widely used and available on mainstream markets.
The duo of Thai basil and cilantro/ coriander is a must-try, especially in salads, giving them a touch of Mojito.
Mint is also popular but beware of its types. It comes in many taste levels, Vietnamese, Cambodian, or Thai purple mint is quite light. Other mints that have bigger stems and leaves have more minty flavors. You may want to remove the stems while using them as they can be too chewy or juicy sometimes.
Salt is just one tiny drop in the ocean of Asian seasoning ingredients. Some of the most common salty seasoning choices are fish sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, shrimp paste, and MSG (monosodium glutamate).
A rule of thumb when choosing fish sauce is to look at its color. The more transparent it is, the lighter the flavor. You can also smell the sauce to check the saltiness. If you feel an intense smell, it’s likely that the sauce is salty as well.
Using sauces and MSG needs serious attention and practice. Start with one teaspoon or half a tablespoon if you are cooking for 1-4 servings. As most sauces come with dark colors, over-pouring them will also ruin the appearance of the dish.
One note for MSG, there is a controversy about it. It can make a shot in the arm when enhancing a bland recipe. But too much MSG, as in the reference of many real-life cases, can cause drowsiness and cramps.
With that being said, there is now no scientific evidence showing the negative side effect of cooking with MSG to long-term physical condition.
Asian acids are commonly presented in 2 types – vinegar and citrus fruits.
Vinegar is one of the staples in cooking, rice vinegar, apple vinegar, wine vinegar, Balsamic vinegar; there are dozens of them. Vinegar can add depth and brighten the flavor without breaking the texture of the dish.
Such citrus fruits as lemon, lime, kumquat, tangerine can perk up bland dishes of fish, steak, and vegetables. They give some crisp notes to the flavors and leave a refreshing aftertaste.
Using these kinds of acids in cooking can also reduce greasiness and fishiness. They facilitate human digestion by dissolving the calcium in food, making you craving for more.
You can cook or marinate using vinegar, but usually not with citrus fruits. When you apply too much heat on the fruit juice, the flavor will soon turn bitter and dominate other flavors of the dish.
Salty, sweet, sour, spicy, bitter, which flavor does Umami fall into? It’s hard to have a set answer. Umami is a Japanese term, which means “savory and pleasant taste.” It refers to the richness of the flavors, so it is a little bit of everything.
Umami gives you a flavorsome dish, which is mostly used in broth, soup, and sauce bases. Slow-cooking potatoes, carrots, onions, beef, and bones will give the umami flavors.
Umami taste is released in the foods by its amino acids, of which the monosodium glutamate or MSG is the most abundant in nature. So premade MSG can also be a source of Umami; however, if you can make it from scratch with fresh ingredients, the taste is always stronger.
Other high-umami ingredients include tomato sauce, Shitake mushroom, and seaweed. If you need something to sauté with, these ingredients will make a fantastic flavor booster.
In The Pot
Now you can get away with that suspicious look while trying to figure out what is still missing in your dish. Knowing how to boost the flavor with these five tips from Asian cuisine will be a great treat to your taste. They also give more ways for you to be a better cook. Time to make your taste buds blossom!