At Wok Express we have been catering for Coeliac and Gluten Free customers for a while now and over the years we have managed to improve the flavour and taste of GF dishes so as to be practically identical to the normal menu. It wasn’t an easy process and we learned a lot on the way but we feel we have got it sorted now.
Our first Coeliac customers were two sisters who were regulars at our Parnell store in 2008. They would order regularly and we would do our best to be careful in preparation and cooking in order to provide for them. However due to the limited ingredients available back then the GF dishes were never able to match the normal dishes for flavour due to a lack of specialist gluten free ingredients.
The only available ingredient back then was Tamari Japanese soy sauce which was gluten free but only available in small bottles and quite expensive to buy. The taste of tamari is quite weak compared to normal fermented soy sauce containing wheat products but it was better than nothing and the sisters didnt seem to mind too much even though the taste was not full flavoured. What we needed was a strong gluten free oyster sauce as this is what provides the “body” of the flavour in most of our dishes.
Fortunately on our annual holiday to Thailand to visit family, we saw a segment on a Thai TV cooking show that one particular manufacturer. Megachef was starting to produce GF sauces and there factory was only an hours drive from where we were staying We called them up and arranged a visit to their factory and were fortunate to get a guided tour of their production facilities.
While we were there we purchased enough oyster sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce to fill a small 1 cubic metre shipping container and bring to NZ. Unfortunately we were not able to import any more after this initial shipment but soon after in 2014 Megachef brought their products to NZ for the Fine Food Show and local distributors started bringing in the product.
Pictured above are the Megachef Gluten Free Soy, Oyster and Fish Sauces
The difference this made to the taste was huge and finally we were able to offer GF customers the same full bodied taste that all other customers were getting.
The only area we needed to address now was the dark soy sauce. We were having issues with GF customers commenting on the lack of colour in the dishes and some thought this meant that this was due to not enough sauce in the dish. Even though the dish tasted great the visual look of a light coloured meal would fool peoples brain into thinking there was not enough taste. Fortunately the last missing piece of perfect GF dishes was made possible by a new product from the famous Lee Kum Kee brand in Hong Kong. We were able to get a special order of 1 years supply of gluten free dark soy sauce and now the GF dishes look just as good as the normal dishes and that makes a big difference to how the dishes are perceived.
If any of our regular Gluten Free customers have any requests or dishes that you are unable to get elsewhere please drop us a line and we will see if we can help.