Friday Tips: Make your own marinades and stir-fry sauces

Delicious Vegan Dish of the Day:

Friday night is once again pizza night at our house!  We had pizza topped with Daiya mozzarella, bell peppers, olives and red onion.  Yum!

Money Matters:

Today we made a trip to the library and then did some cooking and laundry.  Nothing spent!

Friday Tips for Living Vegan and Living Cheap – with kids!:

Marinades and Sauces – another “Make your own!”

When I had my first apartment one of the staples I always had on hand was an “Aloha” marinade and stir-fry sauce.  I used it on veggies and fish (yeah, I ate fish then).  It had a delicious sweet-and-sour flavor combo, but I’m not exactly sure what was in it.  I’m sure some of the sweet came from high fructose corn syrup.  But it was easy and tasty, which were my goals at the time!

Well, making things easy and tasty are still my goals, but now I’ve also added healthy and cheap.  Luckily, making my own marinades and stir-fry sauces meets all these goals!  After playing around with lots of recipes I found some bases that make whipping up some baked tofu or a sesame-ginger stir fry a (tasty) breeze.  No high-fructose corn syrup, or pricy bottled jars needed!

My base: Whether I’m marinading tofu or tempeh, or getting ready for a stir-fry, I always start with the same base ingredients:

  • Tamari (a low sodium soy sauce)
  • Garlic
  • Veggie broth (or water with extra herbs and spices thrown in).

I mix up enough of these ingredients to cover whatever thing I’m trying to marinade, or enough stir-fry sauce to cover my veggies and noodles.  Volume-wise I try and keep the tamari at about 1/6-1/4 of the total liquid for marinades and about 3/4 of the liquid for stir-fry sauces,  Then I use the veggie broth to make up the rest.  So, for example, a marinade for 8oz of tempeh would probably have about 3 TB tamari, 2 cloves of garlic (crushed or minced) and enough veggie broth to cover the rest of the tempeh.

Add ins: Sometimes just the base is enough, especially if I’m just baking or grilling the tofu/tempeh as part of another recipe.  But, usually, it’s way more fun to add in some other delicious flavors!  Give your tempeh a smoky maple flavor with a teaspoon of liquid smoke, a 1/2 a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup.  Make your baked tofu Italian with some dried basil, thyme, oregano and a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste.  For my favorite stir-fry sauce I’ll add a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil and a tablespoon or two of grated ginger.  You could also add chili paste to give it a spicy edge!

Figuring out the marinades and stir-fry sauce combos you like is at bit of a trial and error process.  But the results are worth it, especially when you get to adjust the tastes to exactly your preference, and a much lower cost than those store-bought sauces.  Delicious!

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