Flavour problems

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Hippieff

Assistant Cook
Joined
Jun 16, 2014
Messages
2
Location
London
Hey everyone,

I'm having huge flavour problems! I'm not a great cook and my method is to put my veggies in a big pot (kale, carrots, courgette...) with onion and garlic, add some pre-cooked brown rice, some chickpeas or kidney beans etc, then cover with water with two oxo cubes as I usually make two or three meals at once.
My big problem is the lack of flavour. I have tried:-

Bay leaves
Dried mixed herbs
Dried 5-spice
Sage
Fresh thyme
Fresh rosemary
Dried thyme
Dried paprika
Soy sauce

I've tried so many different things and yet no matter how much seasoning I add, it just tastes either bland or has a massive kick of chili but no other flavours. Can anyone help? I must be doing something wrong!
 

merstar

Head Chef
Joined
Aug 31, 2004
Messages
2,002
You need to saute the onion and garlic first in a little olive oil to extract more flavor. Also, crushing the garlic before chopping brings out more of the oils/flavor of the garlic.

Another possibility is that you're not adding enough salt to boost the other flavors.
 
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Andy M.

Certified Pretend Chef
Joined
Sep 1, 2004
Messages
49,366
Location
Massachusetts
First off, here in the US, an Oxo cube is enough to flavor a cup of water. So if you're only using two cups of water in the above scenario the problem is elsewhere.

Salt. Veggies need salt.
 

Addie

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
Nov 9, 2011
Messages
22,297
Location
East Boston, MA
Do you have "Better Than Bullion" in England? It is a soup base that is used in restaurants. It is now available to the public here in the States. It has so much more flavor than Oxo cubes.

If not, then the lack of salt seem to be the consensus. And other suggestions regarding the garlic, etc. :angel:
 

cave76

Washing Up
Joined
Oct 8, 2011
Messages
1,702
If you don't have an aversion or an allergy to MSG then some Maggi Seasoning might help.

"In all cases, a little Maggi usually goes a long way. The sauce is full of umami-rich flavor and just a few drops can add depth to noodles, stir-fries, soups, and other dishes."

Ingredient Spotlight: Maggi Seasoning Sauce | The Kitchn

It also contains a fair amount of sodium but so does soy sauce in case that might be a deal breaker for you.
 

GotGarlic

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
May 9, 2007
Messages
26,730
Location
Southeastern Virginia
Do you have "Better Than Bullion" in England? It is a soup base that is used in restaurants. It is now available to the public here in the States. It has so much more flavor than Oxo cubes.

If not, then the lack of salt seem to be the consensus. And other suggestions regarding the garlic, etc. :angel:

Hi, Hippieff :) Welcome to DiscussCooking!

Are you intending to make a soup? How much water do you add? You may be diluting your flavors if you're adding too much water.

Some herbs and spices taste better when they are sautéed, or bloomed, in oil. Dice your onions and smash and mince your garlic. Heat some oil in the pan, then add the onions and garlic. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and other seasonings you want to use; stir for about 5 minutes. Next, add ingredients that take longer to cook, such as the carrots, and sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper. Lather, rinse, repeat ;) This is called layering the dish with flavor. Every component needs to be seasoned.

Maggi Seasoning is great for boosting flavors. It does contain a fair amount of salt, but you only need a little bit to make food taste better. You could also add some sort of acid at the end of the cooking time: lemon or lime juice, or white wine or red wine or balsamic vinegar, can really brighten up the flavors in a dish.

Hope this helps.
 
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Dawgluver

Chef Extraordinaire
Joined
Apr 12, 2011
Messages
25,031
Welcome to DC, Hippieff!

I see you are a vegan. Do you use chicken boullion or is it vegetable Oxo? I agree, salt, along with the other ideas posted. You might try sliced olives or capers added at the end, also pickled peppers, artichoke hearts. Ginger, red pepper flakes, some Srirachi sauce perhaps. Coconut milk.
 
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Mad Cook

Master Chef
Joined
Jun 9, 2013
Messages
5,118
Location
North West England
Hey everyone,

I'm having huge flavour problems! I'm not a great cook and my method is to put my veggies in a big pot (kale, carrots, courgette...) with onion and garlic, add some pre-cooked brown rice, some chickpeas or kidney beans etc, then cover with water with two oxo cubes as I usually make two or three meals at once.
My big problem is the lack of flavour. I have tried:-

Bay leaves
Dried mixed herbs
Dried 5-spice
Sage
Fresh thyme
Fresh rosemary
Dried thyme
Dried paprika
Soy sauce

I've tried so many different things and yet no matter how much seasoning I add, it just tastes either bland or has a massive kick of chili but no other flavours. Can anyone help? I must be doing something wrong!
You don't mention salt. I know Oxo cubes are fairly salty but for the amount you seem to be dealing with they may not be sufficient
 

GLC

Head Chef
Joined
Oct 27, 2011
Messages
1,215
Location
Near Austin, Texas
I might suggest that, in addition to the salt issue, you may be simply adding too many things. You have as many as eight herbs and spices, not counting the soy sauce (which we can consider as umami, so MSG is probably not needed). And, of course, there's no complete recipe here, so we can't tell how much of the main ingredients are being added. How much of vegetables, rice, beans, etc. A dish needs a major theme. Perhaps beans. Perhaps rice. And a major accent for that. For instance, curry. The rest are supporting players, and too many of them, like excess chefs, spoil the soup.

For example. chickpeas make a great base for Indian and middle-eastern themes, which often have either curry or coriander/paprika dominating. Adding kale and carrots in moderation help make the beans more interesting, and onion and garlic are givens. The base can be chicken stock, water and coconut milk, water and saffron, or any number of other bases. But continuing to add more different herbs may produce the Biblical "mess of pottage," which is not necessarily more than something to fill the belly.

And you should never get to the table and only then discover a flavor fault. Taste as you go. Taste after each addition, just as you would when adding salt. That way, you discover emerging flavors that you may want to intensify, and you recognize when it's getting right and has no need of something else.
 
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no mayonnaise

Sous Chef
Joined
Oct 16, 2011
Messages
553
I'm only a little sure that this recipe is supposed to be some kind of soup.
I'd sweat my aromatic vegetables with my herbs and possibly some of the spices depending on what's going in, add tomato paste and cook a couple minutes more, add wine and reduce to a syrup, add water and oxo cubes, a dash of msg, salt, pepper and it shouldn't take much but a little time simmering on the fire. Personally if you are doing rice and it's pre cooked what I'd do is put some rice in the bowl and serve the soup on top of it, like gumbo.
All told I'm sure this method above will give you much flavor
For soups I like dry herbs more. Any time herbs are cooking liquid for a long time i go dry herbs.
 
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nerfdom

Assistant Cook
Joined
Aug 27, 2014
Messages
10
Location
Winnipeg
+1 and that plus is really big.

Also seconding the salt part.

You don't need to make it super salty, but when the salty receptors on your tongue are agitated it will actually cause certain aromas to become greatly enhanced (and aroma is where the real magic happens with taste).

Although theoretically depending on the oxo cubes they should have a decent amount of salt in them already.

Also adding something mildly acidic to the mix will draw out some of the vegetable fats into the broth

While animal fats are right there and in your face and can be rendered fully without adding a solvent, a lot of vegetable fats tend to require some chemical coaxing, and something acidic like a vinegar, or citrus flavour (depending on the overall profile you are going for) will help with some of that coaxing.

And if you want to neutralize the acidity after it does it's work just add something bitter to the mix toward the end.

Hope this helps!
 

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