So you switched to a Vegan diet and you’re feeling awesome? You just wish that there were more ways to enhance your food so it wasn’t quite so, um, bland?! There are lots of easy ways to introduce flavour to your food- let’s take a look at some of the most popular:
Liquid smoke - Exactly, what it sounds like- Burn some wood, then collect and concentrate the smoke, and tada you’ve got liquid smoke. Not got time for that? You can buy it here. Adding a dash of liquid smoke to a veggie or vegan meal can really help bring your dish to life. Bacon and other pork products in particular have a lot of smoky flavor, if you’re trying to replicate this be generous!
Nutritional yeast - This may not sound very appetizing, but it’s actually pretty amazing stuff. Nutritional yeast is simply a strain of yeast that’s been deactivated. It has a savory, cheesy, and somewhat nutty flavor. One great way to use it is in vegan cheese recipes, as it has a flavor much like sharp cheddar, but it also works great for adding a savory element to lots of traditionally meat-based recipes.
Fermented foods - These are great for adding that savory element that can be hard to capture in a recipe. Miso just happens to be one of the most useful, widely used and convenient fermented foods for doing this. If you aren’t familiar with it, miso is a Japanese product made from fermented soybeans. The flavor is pungent, savory and a bit salty. While miso’s traditional use is for creating a super savory soup broth, adding a bit to cheesy and meaty vegan dishes will certainly ramp up the flavor.
Yeast extract - Good old vegemite or marmite! Do not underestimate just how useful this can be! With it’s unique blend of savoury flavour and saltiness it is perfect for adding to almost anything to give it a good depth and base flavour.
Soy Sauce - This should be another staple in any Vegan’s cupboard. If you’re gluten free, tamari works as a great substitute. Also liquid aminos is another alternative that some folks feel is healthier than soy sauce and coconut aminos in particular are a great alternative for anyone eating soy-free.
Obviously dried spices are also great for adding depth to a dish, but when you are trying to capture that meaty flavor, what can you do? You might be surprised to learn that many of the flavors we associate with a particular dish actually come from the seasonings. So if you want to capture the flavor of a favorite meat-based dish, consider how it’s seasoned, and try adding that to something plant based. Missing beef tacos? Try adding taco seasoning to some black beans. Blackened steak? Throw some Cajun spices on a big portobello mushroom, you get the idea!
For enhancing the flavour of your grains, something as simple as cooking them in a veggie broth instead of water works wonders and is an automatic umami boost. Alcohol also works great for adding complexity and layers to your foods flavour, white wine is perfect for light, creamy, vegetable based dishes whilst red works for those rich deep full bodied tomato sauces.
Apply these useful tips to your next few recipes and you will be producing food in your kitchen that tastes out of this world in no time- Guaranteed!
By Dominica Roszko. Dominica is the founder of Vegerasta, and a health and well being specialist.
Tagged in Vegan