Why didn't this dish have Asian flavor?


I made this last night and it was delicious. But it had really NO Asian flavor. I only made about 2.5# so reduced all the other ingredients. I’m guessing that I should have kept it all at original levels but would like your input.

What is Asian flavor?

Asia is sort of a big continent.

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Yes. As the title of the article said “Chinese” and the recipe lists the ingredients of course.

Ok, then what do you consider to be Chinese flavor?

I don’t even mean to be argumentative, but I’m just curious. Because if someone were to ask me to describe “Chinese flavor” I would be completely flummoxed.

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I’m saying that the dish didn’t taste like any of the “Chinese” ingredients in the recipe. It tasted like slow cooked short ribs. Very tasty ones but nothing Chinese-y or anything else.

C rating in the window?


If a dish, any dish of any type of ethnic cuisine, is done right it should not taste of any singular ingredient. Rather, the dish should be a kaleidoscopic amalgam of all of the ingredients. Sure, one might be able to detect notes or subtle tones of one particular ingredient (say, cassia or fennel) but nothing should standout as a singular item.

In other words, your dish is probably just fine because, as you say, the dish “didn’t taste like any of the ‘Chinese’ ingredients.” And, it shouldn’t.

Oh sigh. This could have been something cooked in stock with s&p. When I cook something described as “Chinese” I expect it to taste at least marginally like something similar I would eat in a Chinese restaurant. Honestly this is a question regarding cooking and ingredients rather than semantics.


This is the first moment I’ve considered groveling to CH for reinstatement. I asked a cooking question. On CH I’d probably have a half dozen comments with suggestions.

Stale five-spice? Dried-out ginger? What brands of soy sauce and shaoxing?

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Cuisines have flavor profiles and we all know it. I made tortilla soup the other night and it didn’t taste Tex-Mex at all. I’ve had gumbo that tasted like chicken stew with a couple pieces of okra.

Chinese “holy trinity” is ginger/garlic/onion. Italian uses garlic and onion, but not ginger. Which is why Italian food doesn’t taste “Asian”. I could go on, but can’t be bothered.

To get back to the original question, I’ve found that doubling the measurements for any herbs, spices and aromatics in a Serious Eats recipe ends up giving you flavor. Otherwise the flavors gets buried by the time the dish is complete. Except soy sauce or fish sauce. Kenji tends to go heavy on the salt.

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Exactly the advice I’m looking for. Thanks, Bookwich.

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Why does it say to serve with mashed potatoes?


I don’t know Cat . I am probably the worst person to ask . But I found in my cooking if you would like a flavor pronounced I would add a little at the very end . I like to add my spices or herbs a little bit throughout the cooking . Beginning , middle , and end .


The five-spice HAS been around awhile and I wasn’t getting any of the expected ‘aroma.’ Ginger was fresh. I’m not at home right now but it is a high quality soy sauce and the shaoxing was the real deal not the cooking kind. The hoisin is old but the sambal was a freshly opened jar. Good point, robert. I think I’ll replace the five-spice and hoisin.

One tablespoon of five-spice for five pounds of ribs isn’t much. Tyler Florence calls for a half cup for four pounds.

If you don’t go through spices quickly, you might buy them whole and grind as needed.

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This would be my advice, too. Maybe reserve or have extra amounts of the flavors that you would like to be more pronounced and add closer to the end of cooking. I see the same thing done in chili cook-offs all the time.

@catholiver, thanks for reporting on this. That recipe caught my eye the other day and was thinking about trying it.

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I’m pretty sure she means that there are certain flavor profiles that one can reliably associate with a certain cuisine (in this case Chinese), and her dish didn’t resemble any of those. She used ostensibly Chinese ingredients but the dish didn’t taste at all like other Chinese dishes which share those ingredients, at least not in the way she expected them to.

Not that there is one flavor profile, one specific set of characteristic ingredients, one taste that is comprehensive of or exclusively belonging to a particular cuisine, but one can kind of tell how a certain combination of ingredients may be easily associated with a certain cuisine, if we’re being reasonable.

Eg if I used lemongrass, galangal, chiles, lime, garlic, soy, and palm sugar in a dish, I’d expect it to taste “Thai,” not in a way that encompasses all Thai cuisine, but in a way that such ingredients when taken together may reliably be found in a Thai dish. Those ingredients sound like they’d make a dish taste “Thai.” Of course, there are many Thai dishes which don’t use those ingredients, at least not together.

Just as well, one could reasonably conclude that the addition of dashi could make a non-Japanese dish taste a bit more “Japanese.”


… a dash of monosodium glutamate, as much as it is reviled, will do the same as well.


“reviled msg” should be a thread of its own. Or all we informed? :slight_smile: