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Feb 13, 2009 09:07 AM

Asian Cooking Pantry Staples

My boyfriend and I have recently decided to start exploring Asian Cuisine in our home cooking. I am excited to try new recipes and techniques, and step one is stocking the pantry with staples. Funds are limited these days, so I am looking for the items that will get the most mileage for the least cost. What would you say are the ten(ish) "most necessary" items to have on hand when cooking Asian food? I realize that is an extremely broad category, so I will say that our favorites are Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese, though I would also like to explore Malaysian and Filipino Cuisine.

So far I'm thinking:

Hoisin Sauce
Miso paste (any color recommended?)
Fish Sauce (vs. Oyster Sauce?)
Rice Vinegar
Sesame Oil
5-spice powder
udon, soba, and rice noodles

Clearly, these are all pretty basic. What am I missing?


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  1. The dried mushrooms in Asian markets are varied and bargain-priced. Reconstituted mushrooms are common in Asian recipes and just as useful for other cuisines.

    Various seaweeds will be needed, especially for Japanese dishes. Wasabi and pickled ginger, unless you want to make your own.

    Dried shrimp.


      Hoisin and oyster sauce are unnecessary unless you want to cook Chinese. Japanese and Southeast Asian don't have a ton of intersection, but given your cuisines, I'd stock:
      Light soy
      Sesame oil
      Rice vinegar
      Fish sauce
      Curry pastes (red, yellow, massaman, etc.
      )Curry powder
      Noodles (vermicelli, udon, rice stick)
      Palm sugar
      Star anise
      White pepper
      Rice (glutinous and jasmine)

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