Beyond soy sauce
For authentic Asian flair, stock up on these pantry staples (pictured left to right) from your market’s international aisle.
- Chili garlic sauce: The thick sauce of crushed red chiles and garlic adds instant fire. The Chinese version may include fermented black beans and preserved radish; the Vietnamese is simpler.
- Rice vinegar: Popular in Japanese and Chinese cuisines, this is a light and mildly tart vinegar. The seasoned version contains sugar and salt.
- Wasabi: The pungent Japanese green paste or powder gives sauces a horseradish-like burn.
- Toasted sesame oil: Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cooks use this dark oil to lend a nutty aroma to sauces and marinades.
- Fish sauce: The thin amber liquid, made by fermenting fish in brine, is omnipresent in Southeast Asian cuisines and provides a salty, pungent punch. We prefer more subtle Thai and Vietnamese sauces to stronger Filipino.
- Mirin: This Japanese rice wine adds subtle sweetness to marinades, sauces, and dressings.
- Green curry paste: Use the potent, aromatic paste of pounded green chiles and spices to make Thai curry.