Indispensable Asian Ingredients?
I love to cook all types of Asian foods. I'm trying to build up my pantry for a few reasons. First, I like to have everything on hand, so I don't have to head out. Second, there aren't any Asian markets nearby for me to frequent (which is upsetting, but I deal).
I ask you...what are your most indispensable ingredients to have around the house for Asian cooking? Spices, sauces, noodles...all that sort of stuff. I cook and enjoy all different varieties of Asian foods, so give me Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, Thai, etc...
Right now I have the following (and probably more I'm forgetting)
re: gordon wing
I take a very large piece of ginger, and put it in my food processor and blend it as fine as possible. Then I simply put it in a zip bag, mash flat and freeze. When I need ginger for a dish, simply break off a chunk and put into your recipe. You can also make a "ginger-garlic" bag the same way, then you have the standard Asian combo that is used in many dishes handy at all times. I do this with parsley, cilantro, etc. and always have what I need for cooking.
Well, I am straight up American, but some of those I consider basics. Certainly the rice, ginger, garlic and the spices. The soy and fish sauce I use more than salt, which I do consider a speciality spice.
What I would add, is dried mushrooms, at least shitakes.
I must have shoyu - a lighter japanese style soy sauce. I like the hawaiian style lots of flavor not so salty. I have three types of soy sauce - I never thought I need different strenghths and styles but......sesame oil is a must as megiac mentioned. I really like Sambal. Five spice powder is probably a no no but I use it for lots of things - non-asian marinades, salad dressings. Good hoisin sauce, peppercorns and finish with butter - great steak sauce. I find I throw my asian ingredients in whatever I make...
I also always have Vietnamese salad roll wrappers and rice sticks on hand ( spring rolls and Pad thai)
Chinese: Hoisin sauce (for stir fries, BBQ/roast marinades, mu shu and duck), rice vinegar, peanut oil, scallions and cilantro, 5-spice powder (the best blend I've had comes from Spice Market http://worldspice.com)
Japanese: Miso (for soup, salad dressings), mirin (for salad dressings, other dishes)
Vietnamese: Caramel sauce (make it at home for the catfish and pork claypot dishes)
Thai and Indonesian: Limes, lemongrass (trim and freeze if you want), shrimp paste, palm sugar, shallots