Indispensable Asian Ingredients?
- QueenB Mar 26, 2007 04:18 PM
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
Curry paste (in the refigeratable tub) i use Arroy-D brand.
coconut milk (arroy-d or roland)
The things you've listed and: different curry spices (in quantities stored in the freezer) to make up different curry powders, coconut milk (powdered, as you can see in another thread), star anise, hon-dashi (bonito flake stock base), katsuo bushi, mirin, nori, canned unagi, pickled ginger, noodles (I have 8 different kinds), miso(s), rice (Japanese, long grain, basmati, others), bamboo shoots (canned), fermented black beans, water chestnuts (canned), ume (salted "plums"), dried shitake and other Asian mushrooms, Chinese cooking wine, toasted sesame oil, peanut oil, dired squid, kim chee, white pepper corns, Vietnamese rice paper wraps, lumpia wraps, all the dumpling wraps (available in the US but not here), ...
Five spice powder
Young tender ginger
Black bean paste
Some of my more frequent always-on-hand items (in addition to what you've listed)
mirin, sake, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sesame seeds
gochujang (korean red pepper paste), red pepper flakes and powder, sriracha sauce
dried mushrooms, bonito flakes, instant hon dashi
dried anchovies, dried small shrimps, danggit/jeprox (dried fish)
a couple boxes of morinu tofu
generous supply of fish cakes, frozen unagi, frozen, frozen udon, frozen croquettes
You mentioned rice, but there are different kinds. Japanese tends to use short grain, Indian tends to use long grain basmati, Thai uses jasmine, other southeast Asians use sticky/glutinous short grain white rice, which I discovered is really good with dishes with lots of sauce, plus black sticky rice which my Thai cooking teacher informs me is a staple in northern Thailand along with grilled chicken.
In cooking sticky rice, be careful as the technique is different from 'regular' rice.
Don't think I saw galanga on this list, something else that freezes well.
re: Sam Fujisaka
Final question...I swear!
To freeze galangal, you peel it...then what? Just into a freezer bag? Is that the best way to protect it? I hear you can also freeze lemongrass and lime leaves, is this correct?
I'm heading out to the Asian market today and grabbing a huge stash of stuff. I have two cookbooks so far (one just Chinese, the other one encompasses many different Asian cultures), and two of Fuchsia Dunlop's on the way. I have a feeling we'll be eating Asian-influenced meals for a while!
Peel and into a freezer bag. Suck the air out of the bag with a straw. Over time galangal and ginger will loose some moisture. You'll see some water crystals in the bag. No worries. Lemongrass (you use only the thick base portion) and lime leaves can be frozen as well. Have fun shopping, QB.
Around 15 years ago, I was so bent on learning how to cook Chinese food I took a 6 week class where each group cooked their designate piece of the menu, then we all sat down and enjoyed the meal. We discussed the results, and documented our changes. My simple list of ingredients that Mrs. Yu started me off with ended up as the following.
I can make almost anything on impulse because of my well stocked pantry.
And just as important was to purchase the cooking vessels, tea pots,chop sticks, steamer and etc. I was and am still love to cook any Asian dish. So don't laugh
when you read my accumulated items. But I use them all at one time or another!
And I can't stress enough, purchase all you can at the China/Japanese town if you can. You will find much more, and it is not marked up ridiculously.
Here is a peek into my treasure chest. Hey some women love shoes...
Soy sauce - many different, light, med dark, really dark like molasses almost & tamari
Garlic Black Bean paste
Sesame oil/Hot sesame oil Vietnamese Sweet Hot & Sweet Chilli Sauce
Garlic Chili Paste- Several, Vietnamese, Sriaracha,
Dried Shitaki, dired oyster, tiger lily buds, clouds ears - shelf life is indefinite
Rice wrappers. rice sticks, large rice noodles, and noodles, egg noodle srice waps, shu mei wrappers, egg roll, wonton (need to use soon) it is so much fun to make lumpia, spring rolls or shu mei when you have a craving
Rice- jasmine, need sushi rice
Rice vinegar, several, Mirin, Palm vinegar - filipino 4 adobo,
Panko bread crumbs
Star anise, Chinese 5 Spice, White pepper, ground cardamon& pods, tamarind,
hot mustard -dry
miso - instant miso for nice cup of miso broth quick
creamed corn, ketchup, or tomato paste
coconut milk, sweetend and non
evaporated milk - vietnamese coffee if you like it, get the little ss single cup pot
Ginger fresh & ground
Different Currys, hot red, green yello, madras,one that I got at store in Oakland loose, that is very hot, I was told Jamaican but is smokin hot great in seafood curry
bamboo shoots, chestnuts, baby corn, mushrooms - little baby shitake
Mung beans, dal
Rice flourm, cake flour (pork buns)
Every week I buy, fresh ginger root, garlic, bean sprouts and cilantro, scallions, lemons and limes, sometimes, lemon grass
And if you can buy different good Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese teas
It is so much fun to offer a good tea and Japanese beer or the like whenyou have the dinner.
I hope your question was serious, I tend to be a bit obsessive with my cooking at times, never wanting to run out in the middle for an ingrediet.
I'm sorry QB, no insult was intended, sometimes I get carried away and am very detailed to a fault at times.
When I go into great depth, I worry that I might be annoying and all that was wanted was the basics.
I am thrilled for you, cooking Asian food is so rewarding and fun to cook, beautiful and almost romantic to me when I read stories about where some dishes originated. I have the utmost respect for their culture, and wnat to learn as much as I can. So if I can help ever, please ask.
What am I missing in my pantry? I will need to go get it!!
re: chef chicklet
CC, no offense taken. I've cooked Asian food before (Indian, Chinese, Thai), but this is my first real attempt to get down and dirty with it. I figure four cookbooks is enough!
The things I bought that weren't on your list were:
Fermented black beans
Shaoxing rice wine
TianJin preserved vegetable
At least those are the ones that I can remember! The wonderful thing is, I bought so much stuff for under 50 dollars. I pretty much have a full Asian pantry. (I also bought some steamed pork buns and a rice cake filled with mung and egg...wonderful!)
I'll let you know for sure if I need advice. I'm sure I will need it and I really appreciate the offer.
I've never heard of Makina before. Can't seem to find anything about it on Google either.
this is what I always have on hand:
soy sauce -korean usually or japanese
rice wine - unseasoned
garlic - cant have korean without it
vietnamese fish sauce
rice of course
barley (for mixing in with rice)
black rice (for mixing in with rice)