Ideas for Bland Stir-Fry

I recently made stir-fry from a recipe. It was pretty simple: tofu, onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and basil. I stir-fried it for about 15 minutes. The consistency was pretty good, a tiny bit on the dry side. But the taste was bland. I've made stir-fry in the past with similar results. What can I do to make my stir-fry tastier?

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Snoozealarm from Beer Sheva, Israel

March 18, 20090 found this helpful

In the U.S. there's a spice called Oriental Five Spices. The ingredients on the bottle read: cinnamon, anise, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. I've mixed it into my stir fry and I highly recommend it because it adds a lot of flavor.

Also try some soy sauce for added flavor, that is also delicious!

My husband and I have been to Israel twice and we LOVE your country. The Israelis are very warm and friendly!

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March 18, 20090 found this helpful

I would try using fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. I also always use soy sauce and sometimes fish sauce or broth to add a little flavor.

Here is a step by step stir fry recipe that I posted in the past. It is chicken but you could make it vegetarian by replacing chicken with tofu and excluding the fish sauce. The chili peppers make it very spicy but I leave them out for my kids and they still like it pretty well.

http://www.thriftyfun.com/tf41393920.tip.html

Good luck!

Jess

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March 19, 20090 found this helpful

Just last night I made delicious Chicken & Veg Stir Fry. I always use Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce and Sugar Syrup in my stir-fry, 2/3 tablespoons of each. I make my own sugar syrup and keep it in the fridge as it has many uses. Green, red and yellow peppers cut in strips are also good in a stir-fry. Enjoy, Sarita - South Africa

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March 19, 20090 found this helpful

When it's almost done, you need to add a flavored sauce, turn the heat down to simmer and put on the lid. Leave it alone for 5 minutes, then serve. I had the same problem and discovered the sauce at the end is what make all the difference.

This sauce can be anything from a little chicken broth to one of those sauces you buy in a jar and mix with a little water. You can't achieve it by simply sprinkling on a few spices unfortunately. However, the spices and the sauce are what make the difference.

How about marinating the tofu in a strong solution of soy sauce and toasted sesame seed oil before?

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March 19, 20090 found this helpful

Like you I could not understand why my stir-fry did not taste right until I discovered sesame seed oil. It makes all the difference. Just remember a small amount goes a long ways. Also soy sauce will give it lots of flavor, but unless you are using low sodium soy sauce cut back on the salt. Try experimenting with different sauces, they will add flavor.

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March 19, 20090 found this helpful

You didn't mention soy sauce. It just doesn't work for me without soy sauce!

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March 19, 20090 found this helpful

Hoisin sauce!

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March 19, 20090 found this helpful

Dear Snoozealarm,

Whenever I stir-fry, I use olive oil & Mrs. Dash instead of salt & pepper. Diced pineapple (canned or fresh) is also yummy. The most important addition to any stir-fry in my opinion is ginger, powdered AND cut-up candied ginger. It really makes your stir-fry sparkle!

Good luck & mazel tov! Brenda - Council Idaho USA

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March 19, 20090 found this helpful

I also like some soy sauce in a stir-fry, but it can get very salty. I recently started using bottled marinades for this purpose. I especially like the Teriyaki flavor, but there are many on the market. They are nicely seasoned and not as salty as straight soy sauce. Adding some fresh ginger and garlic gives a lot of flavor, too.

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March 19, 20090 found this helpful

Get a spice mixture called 'Chinese 5 Spice Powder'.

You usually can buy it right in the grocery store, but there is a company called Penzey's that has an online store. This spice blend tastes just like restaurant chinese food.

Or try some rice wine vinegar, also from grocery store. I sprinkle it on before serving if it's for me, but I usually serve it on the side because my husband can take it or leave it.

Basically, if I'm cooking Asian I look in that section in the grocery store. I've bought Hoisen sause, oyster sause, chili oil, sesame oil (I add this last before serving because the taste is strong, but delicious). All great additions. I'm an experimentor when it comes to food.

Also try fresh lime juice spritzed over your dish just before serving. I love this, you won't believe the difference it makes.

Last time I stir fried I use lemon olive oil - got it as a gift, and my dish turned out to taste more Asian than using regular vegetable oil.

I think most people use peanut oil for stir fry, I'm not sure and haven't tried it myself.

Also, roast a few peanuts, shells and skins remove, in a Teflon frying pan. On medium high, but watch carefully! They will burn easily. Just toast them and turn them while roasting. The roasting brings out the flavor of all nuts. Cool them, chop them, and sprinkle on dish before serving.

I also have a problem with slightly mushy vegetables, can't seem to get it right.

Also, have you every tried 'tempeh'? You can get it in a grocery store refrigerated health food section, or at Whole Foods Market - we have these in Houston, Texas, USA and I know they're nationwide. It's high in fiber, low in carbs and calories and is really satisfying. The one I buy comes in a rectangle, so I make cubes out of it, sprinkle with soy sauce (I use low sodium kind), heat up a little vegetable oil and brown the tempeh. It's really good added to stir fry.

If you have any more ideas, I've love to hear them. I need Asian food help!

Thank you.

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March 19, 20090 found this helpful

Try grating fresh ginger into your marinade or onto the veggies when they're half done. Also, as suggested above, lime or lemon juice, or rice vinegar (not much of any; taste as you go) will pop flavors out. In fact, all the suggestions are good.

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March 20, 20090 found this helpful

Yes, lots of fresh or chopped garlic in a bottle, a little sherry (and not the cooking kind, either!) can do a peanut sauce with peanutbutter, ginger, soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic, and a little orange marmalade (optional), or a little orange juice. I also slice the superfirm tofu horizonally into 3 slices and I salt with seasoned salt and some garlic powder. I then wrap it in a few paper towels and a clean towel and put it in the fridge to drain and season for about 30 min to an hour. I like a firm texture. Can put it on a plate and another plate on top with something a little heavy if in a hurry. Hope this helps! Shalom!

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March 22, 20090 found this helpful

I am wondering if you are actually stir-frying this, or if you are just frying it. A stir fry, oriental style, will be done much faster than 15 minutes. I suspect you are overcooking this. Your veggies should be quite crisp. I also add teriyaki sauce, powdered chicken boullin dissolved in about an ounce of water, and about a 1/2 tsp of sugar. I prefer the teriyaki over soy sauce, but that is just me. Soy sauce is good too. All of the previous posters have some good suggestions too.

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