Monday, October 26th, 2015

The Beginner’s Asian Pantry

 

I think it is pretty safe to say that the majority of Philadelphia residents have ventured into Chinatown at least once or have enjoyed one steaming hot bowl of pho. Whether or not you are Asian, Philadelphians, and Americans as a whole love Asian food. Think of some of the trendiest things to eat… sushi, ramen, and even poke originates from Asia. Asian food is hot right now, but not many of us know how to create these flavors we love so much. Luckily, we have a list of 16 ingredients that you will find in all of your favorite Asian dishes. So here’s the run-down on what you need in your pantry in order to recreate these familiar Asian flavors.

  1. Soy sauce
  2. Sesame oil
  3. Peanuts
  4. Tahini
  5. Mirin
  6. Sesame seeds
  7. Oyster sauce
  8. Rice vinegar
  9. Fish sauce
  10. Star anise
  11. Sambal oelek (garlicky chili condiment)
  12. Miso paste
  13. Shaoxing wine
  14. Hondashi (instant dashi powder)
  15. Dried shiitakes
  16. Lap choeng (Chinese sausage)

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Look, we know the Internet is out there. And on it you can find almost anything, from pictures of dogs on surfboards to multilayered analyses of whether or not Thomas Pynchon predicted parallel universes decades before the Hadron Supercollider gave scientists reason to think they might exist. But the pull of Gravity’s Rainbow aside, what we wanted to do here was give you a simple visual and factual orientation to what we cooked with as we made this book, so you know what you’re looking for as you paw through the aisles of a foreign supermarket and/or the murky depths of third-party seller pages on Amazon.com.

Photo Credit luckypeach.com

We divided our pantry into basic, intermediate, and champion levels because (a) it would have been really hard to get everything in one shot and (b) these levels reflect the necessity of the ingredients.

1. Soy Sauce
Our preferred soy sauces are Japanese-made and are labeledusukuchi, which is sometimes called “light” soy sauce. (That lightness is in color; do not confuse it with low-sodium soy sauce.) We tested the recipes here with a range of different store brands, and they should work even with Kikkoman bottle you swiped off the local take-out place’s to-go counter.

2. Sesame Oil
Don’t be afraid to pay a little more for something nicer than basic, but buy a small bottle—a little bit goes a long way, and sesame oil doesn’t improve with age.

3. Peanuts
Planter’s cocktail peanuts inarguably get the job done and are so widely available you can probably buy them at the gas station.

4. Tahini
Tahini is pureed sesame seeds. Get something from a Middle Eastern grocery, if possible.

Read the full article here.

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