Vietnamese pantry staples
- Broken rice. By-product of processing rice; stickier and softer than whole-grain.
- Litchi purée. From juicy litchis, a fruit native to China.
- Mint. A staple; always used fresh.
- Oolong tea. Falls between black and green tea, flavor-wise.
- Shiso (perilla). Aromatic, notch-edged herb; is red or green.
- Thai basil. Narrow-leafed, with purplish stem and anisey scent.
- Vegetarian “oyster” sauce. Eric prefers this variety, made from mushrooms, to regular oyster sauce for its more consistent quality.
- Vietnamese fish sauce. Pressed from salted, fermented anchovies. Mild Three Crabs brand is fine for cooking, says Eric; for bolder flavor, he likes single-press Red Boat.
- Vietnamese pickled leeks. Crunchy and mildly spicy-sweet.