Essential-Asian-Ingredients
Food & Nutrition

31 Essential Ingredients Used in Asian Cuisine

Most Common Asian Ingredients to Have on Hand

The brilliance of Asian cooking lies in its intense aromas and bold flavors.

People today are cooking more Asian cuisine than ever before, and it’s important to know the basic ingredients to make the most authentic dish possible.

You might be familiar with common sauces and aromatics in Chinese cooking, but most people don’t know about Chinese spices.

Popular dishes such as fried rice, dumplings, or vegetable stir-fries don’t always use seasonings other than salt and pepper, but the dishes that do can have an entirely different flavor. 

I’ve made a list of 31 essential Asian ingredients that can help breathe new life into your menu.

Kikkoman Soy Sauce


Kikkoman-Soy-Sauce---Essential-Asian-Spices

Soy sauce is a versatile storecupboard ingredient, either added to dishes during cooking or used as a table condiment. It makes a great marinade or can be splashed into stews or used in sauces for meat and vegetables.

Kadoya Pure Sesame Oil


Kadoya-Pure-Sesame-Oil--Essential-Asian-Spices

Sesame oil can be used for sauces, marinades, dressings and stir-frying. This kosher sesame oil has a nutty flavor and a rich aroma to enhance almost any dish. You can create tasty salads and meals with Kadoya Pure Sesame Oil. 

Rice Bran Oil


Rice-Bran-Oil--Essential-Asian-Spices

Rice bran oil is quite versatile. Unlike olive and canola oils, it’s ideal for frying and baking because its subtle taste won’t overpower a dish. It has a nutty, earthy flavor similar to that of peanut oil. Its high smoke point means that it’s suitable for high-temperature cooking.

Kikkoman Manjo Aji Mirin       


Kikkoman-Manjo-Aji-Mirin-Essential-Asian-Spices

Aji Miring brings out the flavor in Teriyaki, Sukiyaki, Tempura and other Japanese delicacies. This sweet tasting rice wine adds a slightly sweet, rich flavor to meats when used as a marinade or glaze.

Thai Kitchen Organic Unsweetened Coconut Milk


Thai-Kitchen-Organic-Unsweetened-Coconut-Milk-Essential-Asian-Spices

Well, it’s not milk in the dairy sense, but close to its level of creaminess. It is basically just shredded coconut flesh that is pureed with water and strained to create a rich, shock-white liquid that can lend body, flavor, and richness to soups, curries, wilted greens, and much more.

Mae Ploy Yellow Curry Paste


Mae-Ploy-Yellow-Curry-Paste-Essential-Asian-Spices

Probably the most common use for Thai curry paste is in curries and stews. Cook the curry paste in a little oil first to bring out its flavors, then coat proteins — like chicken, pork, or tofu — and vegetables with the warmed paste. Each color paste has its own unique flavor and level of spice, green is usually the milder of the curry pastes, while red is usually the hottest and yellow falls somewhere in between. Green curry is usually the brightest colored and the more popular curry used in Thai dishes.

Mae Ploy Green Curry Paste


Mae-Ploy-Green-Curry-Paste-Essential-Asian-Spices

Mae Ploy Red Curry Paste


Mae-Ploy-Red-Curry-Paste-Essential-Asian-Spices

Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade & Sauce


Kikkoman-Teriyaki-Marinade-&-Sauce-Essential-Asian-Spices

You can apply teriyaki sauce to chicken, fish, or vegetables before you bake a dish because the sustained lower heat works to caramelize the sauce. Serve teriyaki dishes with rice or bread to soak up the extra sauce.

Marukan Seasoned Rice Vinegar


Marukan-Seasoned-Rice-Vinegar-Essential-Asian-Spices

Rice vinegar is most commonly used for sushi, marinades, sauces, and salad dressings. Add a pinch of sugar to other types of vinegar like apple cider vinegar, sherry vinegar, or white wine vinegar to easily replace rice vinegar.

Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce


Lee-Kum-Kee-Hoisin-Sauce-Essential-Asian-Spices

Hoisin sauce is a fragrant, pungent sauce used frequently in Asian vegetable stir-fries, marinades, and grilled dishes. It is a key ingredient in many Chinese dishes and some Vietnamese food recipes and is sometimes called Chinese barbecue sauce.

Ajinomoto – Hon Dashi 


Ajinomoto---Hon-Dashi--Essential-Asian-Spices

This bonitofish soup stock is used for soup base for miso soup, hot pot, and soup noodles. Dashi is the most important flavor of Japanese food and it’s used in many different dishes, and you can use this instant version or make it from scratch with katsuobushi.

Shirakiku Miso Shiro (white) Soy Bean Paste


Shirakiku-Miso-Shiro-(white)-Soy-Bean-Paste-Essential-Asian-Spices

White Miso is a traditional Japanese food produced by fermenting soybeans that have been fermented primarily with rice. The typical result is a thick paste used for light sauces and spreads, salad dressings and mayonnaise, it is the sweeter of miso’s and can range in color from white to light beige.

Shiitake Mushrooms


Shiitake-Mushrooms-Essential-Asian-Spices

Shiitake mushroom is a fungus. An extract made from this mushroom is used as medicine. Shiitake mushroom is used for boosting the immune system, lowering blood cholesterol levels, treating prostate cancer, and as an anti-aging agent. Shiitake mushroom is also eaten as food.

Shichimi Togarashi – Japanese Mixed Chili Pepper


Shichimi-Togarashi---Japanese-Mixed-Chili-Pepper-Essential-Asian-Spices

Spicy Japanese seasoning blend, also known as Shichimi Togarashi, includes chilies, sesame, orange peel, nori and more, is used to flavor soups, noodles dishes, grilled meats and seafood.

Blue Elephant Royal Thai Cuisine Dried Lemongrass


Blue-Elephant-Royal-Thai-Cuisine-Dried-Lemongrass-Essential-Asian-Spices

Dried lemongrass has more of a woodsy flavor. Stir-fries call for finely-diced fresh lemongrass as the dried form will simply dry out more. But dried lemongrass can be used in soups and other long-simmered dishes where it has time to rehydrate.

gimMe Sushi Nori 100% Organic Roasted Seaweed


gimMe-Sushi-Nori-100%-Organic-Roasted-Seaweed-Essential-Asian-Spices

Nori is commonly used as a wrap for sushi and onigiri. It is also a garnish or flavoring in noodle preparations and soups. It is most typically toasted prior to consumption (yaki-nori).

Thai Fish Sauce 


Thai-Fish-Sauce--Essential-Asian-Spices

The salty, savory ingredient is used to add umami to dozens of popular dishes, such as pad thai, but can also be used to marinate meats, dress vegetables or punch up the flavor in soups or stews. It can even serve as a base to salad dressings and homemade condiments.

Simply Organic Ginger Root


Simply-Organic-Ginger-Root-Essential-Asian-Spices

Thai people mainly use ginger for flavoring foods, desserts, and beverages.

Mae Ploy Sweet Chili Sauce


Mae-Ploy-Sweet-Chili-Sauce-Essential-Asian-Spices

Sweet chili sauces usually come as a thick paste, and are used either as a dipping sauce or in stir frying. Ideal for breaded and fried foods, barbecue, hamburgers, tacos, rice, etc. Sweet chilli sauce is a popular condiment in Western and Malaysian cuisine.

House Foods Wasabi Paste


House-Foods-Wasabi-Paste-Essential-Asian-Spices

Although wasabi is most commonly used to add a hint of heat to sushi, it can also be used to add a real punch or a subtle accent to dips and sauces, pasta, chicken, tofu and more. These recipes contain easy ideas for how to add to your cooking and make it one of the most essential items in your pantry.

Thai Whole Dried Chile


Thai-whole-dried-chile-Essential-Asian-Spices

The Thai Chile Pepper is great when added to broths, stews, aioli, stir-fry or remoulade. As traditionally used in Thai curry, this product is also a great use for any Thai dish.

Lundberg Family Farms Organic Sushi Rice


Lundberg-Family-Farms-Organic-Sushi-Rice-Essential-Asian-Ingredients

A classic Japanese short grain rice grown especially for making Sushi. It is truly superb in traditional Sushi rolls, salads, and other Asian dishes.

Daawat Traditional Basmati Rice


Daawat-Traditional-Basmati-Rice-Essential-Asian-Ingredients

Hime Japanese Ramen Noodles


Hime Japanese Ramen Noodles -Essential-Asian-Ingredients

Vietnamese Rice Stic


Vietnamese-Rice-Stic--Essential-Asian-Ingredients

Rice vermicelli are thin rice-flour noodles common in Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asian cuisines, where they are often used in stir-fries, soups, spring rolls, and salads.

Kaset Bean Thread Glass Noodles


Kaset-Bean-Thread-Glass-Noodles--Essential-Asian-Ingredients

Glass or cellophane noodles (also known as fensi or bean thread noodles) are transparent noodles that, when cooked, are clear like glass. They are used in Asian soups, hot pots, stir-fried dishes, and spring rolls. Glass noodles are typically sold dried and are soaked before eating.

Twin Pack Hime Dried Buckwheat Soba Noodles


Twin-Pack-Hime-Dried-Buckwheat-Soba-Noodles--Essential-Asian-Ingredients

Soba noodles are served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in hot broth as a noodle soup. In Japan, soba noodles can be found in a variety of settings, from “fast food” places to expensive specialty restaurants. Markets sell dried noodles and men-tsuyu, or instant noodle broth, to make home preparation easy.

Three Ladies Spring Roll Rice Paper Wrappers


Three-Ladies-Spring-Roll-Rice-Paper-Wrappers--Essential-Asian-Ingredients

Thin, translucent sheets of rice-flour dough, rice paper is used to wrap up Vietnamese summer rolls. The sheets are brittle and fragile straight out of the package, and then are soaked briefly in water to soften them to a pliable texture.

Thailand Japanese White Pickled Sushi Ginger


White-Pickled-Sushi-Ginger--Essential-Asian-Ingredients

Ginger is meant to be eaten between sushi servings to cleanse and refresh the palate. If a sushi chef wants to incorporate ginger into a sushi dish for balance, he or she will do it at the time they are making it.

House Foods Tofu


tofu--Essential-Asian-Ingredients

Tofu comes in different degrees of firmness: silken, soft, firm, and extra-firm. Silken is best for blending into smoothies and desserts, as well as in Japanese miso soup. Soft is ideal for heartier soups and stews, and firm and extra-firm stand up well to stir-frying, deep-frying, and baking.

 

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