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Thread: Why Is My Food Bland?

  1. #1

    Wink Why Is My Food Bland?

    OK, I've never been a fabulous cook, but I'm not that bad of a cook either. It just seems that for a while now, when I cook something, it turns out bland even though I used herbs, sauces, etc. in what I'm cooking. For example, when I make spaghetti sauce I'll put in garlic, Italian herbs, fennel, bay leaf, red wine - sometimes I make it vegitarian and sometimes I'll add some ground beef - but no matter what I do it usually ends up bland!!! I made dim sum and fried rice last night.... I used fresh ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, plum sauce, cilantro, Chinese Five Spice, pork and veggies - everything tasted bland (and the other person eating eat agreed so it's not just me).
    If anyone can give any tips on what I'm doing wrong and how I can make the food I cook have depth of flavor - I would appreciate any help I can get. Thank You!
    Last edited by Susan444; 2010-09-24 at 09:22 PM.

  2. #2
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    Sea salt might help. I know we are to cut back on salt but sea salt is digestible and you do need some salt in your diet. It is healthier if you add it to your cooking and not as you plate your dish. The other thing is your herbs may be over a year old and losing there strength. As my herbs get old I will increase the amount. I also crush any flakes to release the flavours before adding them. Take inventory once a year and keep a record as to what you use most and what was replaced in the previous year. You might want to switch from dried to fresh if your not already doing that.

    If you really want tasty flavourful food try East Indian recipes. They can look overwhelming with all the ingredients but the flavour is there. If you have never tried it use a chicken recipe first. Most are made like a stew and I use my slow cooker for that. As it cooks the aroma will wake up your senses! Good stuff. Happy cooking.

  3. #3
    Moderator CM's Avatar
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    Hi Susan444 and welcome to TalkFood!

    The simple answer might just be that even though you're using these herbs and spices, you might need to use a little more.

    When a recipe says "adjust seasoning to taste" you should take it literally! Taste what you're cooking throughout the cooking process. I always start by adding 1/2 the seasoning amounts called for in a recipe, then I will add as much or as little seasoning as I think it needs "according to taste" - that means that I keep adding various seasonings, herbs and flavors until I no longer perceive the food as being bland, and I continue to develop the flavor until the taste and aroma is what I had imagined it to be when I started. The exception is salt, which I usually don't add much of until the end of cooking (in some dishes I leave this for adding at the table). I prefer to develop flavor in foods without salt, leaving it as the last resort (except when sauteing certain foods).

    For added depth of flavor (or layers), I often add some of the ingredients of a long cooking sauce, soup or stew in at the beginning, then I add them again toward the end. For instance, add onions at the start when browning the meat, and another chopped onion directly to the stew a half hour before serving. This gives the stew multiple layers of onion flavor. The second addition brings an onion flavor with added texture while the first onions offer a caramelized sweetness.

    There are really 3 stages during which the flavors of cooking can be developed. In a majority of dishes, the flavor is developed in the starting technique (ie brown the onions, meat, garlic, carrots, onions, etc) or by using a "sofrito". The Maillard reaction brings flavor to the party by the caramelization of amino acids and carbohydrates. Many slow foods develop flavor during a long cooking process (during the second stage of cooking). And some chowders and soups even taste better when made the day before, developing enhanced flavor overnight!

    Check your herbs, spices and flavorings. Toss dried herbs and spices that don't seem to have any flavor or if they're discolored or are over 6-12 months old. The same is true of extracts which lose their essential potency after about a year.

    Do you find restaurant and store-bought foods to be more bland, too? Have you had a cold recently? Respiratory issues (even hayfever) can cut down on your sense of taste by reducing the aroma of flavor which adds to your perception of taste.

  4. #4
    Trusted Senior Member Cassie-Jane's Avatar
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    Hi Susan444 and Welcome!
    I Live in the country and have seasonal allergies.
    I also notice that all my food is bland when I have them.
    It also happens when I have a cold .
    [FONT=Century Gothic]Cassie~Jane[/FONT]

  5. #5
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    When I get bored with food I use cayenne pepper, garlic, turmeric, curry and ginger to get my taste buds moving again.

  6. #6
    Trusted Senior Member Cassie-Jane's Avatar
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    I usally do that too Karen.
    I also use Thyme in all my veggie dishes!
    [FONT=Century Gothic]Cassie~Jane[/FONT]

  7. #7
    As soon as I read your post a lightbulb went off. You said this has been recent if I'm correct. If the other answers (all of which are great) do not help, you may have the same problem I did a few years ago. I was on a kick to get all my vits and minerals from a combo of herbs and other foods to avoid taking vit pills. Certain herbs and remedies can actually cause you to loose your sense of taste. Examine the supplements you are currently taking if any.

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    I was just reading an article on allergies. We need about 400 mg of folate a day to reduce them. Your best sources are spinach, broccoli, strawberries etc. check out this site I just found.

    www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org I just might eat more veggies now. The recipes look good and the info is terrific.

  9. #9
    Trusted Senior Member brigid's Avatar
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    Oftentimes I will find that the absence of enough salt will cause blandness. A very simple thing, but far more important than we realize. If salt is a problem for anyone in your household, there are salt substitutes. If you find them too bitter, you can use a tiny bit of vinegar or lemon. As the Chef Emeril says... salt makes everything taste better!

  10. #10
    Trusted Senior Member Cassie-Jane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KarenB View Post
    I was just reading an article on allergies. We need about 400 mg of folate a day to reduce them. Your best sources are spinach, broccoli, strawberries etc. check out this site I just found.

    www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org I just might eat more veggies now. The recipes look good and the info is terrific.
    Hi Karen-Thanks for that link I just checked it out and I never knew all that stuff!
    Hopefully next year I will not have them that bad if I follow that link!
    [FONT=Century Gothic]Cassie~Jane[/FONT]

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