Joco Diversions

Eating for life — Asian sauces are simple to pull together

Like the armchair traveler who is content to read about daring adventures, prepared Asian stir-fry sauces hold out the promise of new and exotic tastes — without the dangers of deciphering ingredient labels in a foreign language.

But sadly, when it comes to flavor, something is usually lost in translation.

Unlike classical French sauces and reductions, Asian sauces are relatively simple to pull together. Whisk together a few uncomplicated ingredients and skip the MSG (monosodium glutamate, an allergy trigger for some people) and the preservatives. Making your own also allows you to control the amount of sodium and sugar.

The Star’s Fish and Vegetables in Thai Sauce combines rice vinegar, honey, garlic, pepper flakes and vegetable oil to create a sauce so fragrant I was getting requests for a copy of the recipe from colleagues based on the smell alone. Not surprisingly, scientists estimate 80 percent of a food’s flavor is in its aroma.

The fish and vegetables in this dish are prepared using two low-fat cooking techniques: The fish is broiled while the vegetables are stir-fried. Both techniques keep added fats to a minimum.

Cooking tip:

We tested this with salmon, grouper and halibut. Do not over-marinate the fish or it will become mushy.

Serving tip:

This sauce would also go well with chicken and seafood.