When we think of comfort food we always hanker after Asian cuisine. The beautiful blend of piquant flavors – spicy, sweet, salty, sticky, and totally addictive - completely engulf the senses and tingle the taste buds. For those of us who are totally in love with this soulful cuisine, a large part of quarantine has been spent in learning and perfecting the delicate art of cooking authentic Asian delicacies. And inspired by that fact, in today's installment of Eazydiner’s at home recipe sessions, join us on a culinary tour where we will identify and list staple Asian pantry ingredients that you usually need whilst preparing an Asian fare.
Basic Asian Pantry Essentials:
- Soy sauce: One of the most basics ingredients in any Asian recipe is soy sauce. Used in numerous preparations, you will find many varieties of Soy in the market but largely they can be categorized as either light or dark. You can use soy sauce in place of salt or as is when seasoning soups, fried rice, dressings, or dipping sauces.
- Oil: Sesame and peanut oils work well with most Asian delicacies. Peanut oil has a high smoke point which is why it is majorly used for stir-frying ingredient and sesame oil (especially toasted) has a deep, nutty flavor that is used mainly for seasoning dressings, dipping sauces, curries, and marinades.
- Vinegar: A true blue Asian food aficionado must always have a stock of vinegar handy. This versatile ingredient is used quite a lot in vinaigrettes, quick pickles, dipping sauces, stir-fries, and even as is as a condiment.
- Chili sauce: Mostly Sriracha or Chili garlic. Sriracha features a very spicy and fiery hot flavor. It’s made with chili peppers, vinegar, salt, sugar, and garlic. The Chili Garlic sauce is quite similar to Sriracha, but fresher tasting and with a little hint of garlic.
- Black Bean Garlic Sauce: Delicious dark and salty, this sauce is usually used to add a kick to dishes and bring out a punchy flavor.
- Curry Paste: Spicy, complex, and indispensable in Thai curries, both red and green curry paste are standard food items in Asian cooking. Often mixed with coconut milk in curries and soups. Red curry paste uses red chilies as a base and very spicy whereas green curry paste requires coriander roots, green chilies and has a much sweeter and subtle flavor.
- Rice and noodles: You will find numerous varieties of rice and noodles under the soon. So, no need to stock up on all the types available. Just figure out what you like and prefer the most and go from there.
- Fresh ginger: Quite versatile in its utilization, you can mince it, grate it or simply chop it. Adds a sharp, slightly spicy taste. Delicious in sauces, marinades, stir-fries, soups, and more.
- Coriander/Cilantro: Adds freshness, color, and flavor.
- Limes: A simple squirt of lime is used to add that fresh juicy tartness synonymous with Asian food, especially Thai and Vietnamese dishes.
- Chili: There are dozens of varieties that vary in heat and flavor so choose as per your preference and/or tolerance.