How to Stock Your Pantry for Asian Cooking

Asian cuisine includes dishes from many countries and regions. Recipes and flavors vary by region, but many of the stock ingredients are the same. Since obtaining ingredients can be a little more time and energy consuming than standard dishes, learn how to stock your pantry for Asian cooking.

Steps

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    Search out where to get ingredients. Regular supermarkets may not carry everything needed for Asian recipes. Some ingredients may have to be ordered online or purchased at an Asian market.
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    Find resources from experienced Asian cuisine cooks. Shopping at Asian markets and translating packaging and ingredients may be difficult. Pre-made lists and resources like Kian's Chinese Cooking Starter Kid can be helpful for getting started and learning how to stock your pantry for Asian cooking.
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    Choose rice and noodles. These are a base for many Asian meals. Regular brown or white rice doesn't have the right consistency for Asian cooking. Choose jasmine or basmati rice for versatility; they're used in Chinese food and other dishes. For Japanese cooking, look for Japanese short grain or sushi rice.
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    Purchase soy sauce. There are various types of soy sauce; it's best to use a soy sauce made for the type of cuisine being prepared. The ones most useful are light and dark Chinese soy sauce. Light soy sauce is table soy sauce. Dark soy sauce has been aged and is thicker and darker. Japanese soy sauce includes Shoyu and Tamari, which are slightly sweeter.
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    Buy cooking wine and oils. Brown rice wine is similar to dry sherry and is used in most Chinese recipes. Sesame oil is most often used in cold dishes and other recipes. Cooking requires high heat and oil with a higher smoke point, like vegetable, soybean, canola or peanut oil.
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    Get Asian sauces and pastes. While they can be made from scratch, it's most convenient to have pre-made sauces on hand. Oyster sauce is a commonly used in Chinese food. Fermented fish sauce, called "nam pla" is another essential ingredient. Look for clear, sediment free, amber colored sauce. Curry pastes, most often used in Thai and Indian cooking, include red, yellow and green pastes. Shrimp paste is used in Chinese and Thai sauces, soups and other dishes.
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    Have starch on hand. Starch is used to thicken sauces. Tapioca starch is used in traditional Chinese sauce.
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    Stock up on dried spices. Some of the spices most used in Asian recipes include cloves, dried hot chili, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, curry, Sichuan pepper, star anise and white pepper. Five spice powder is a mix that includes fennel, Szechuan peppercorns, cloves, and star anise.
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    Use Miso and Tamari for soup bases and gravies. Both are made from soy and are low in calories and high in protein and beneficial bacteria.
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    Get vinegar. There are various types of vinegar. White rice vinegar is lighter and used in sauces and stir fries. Black rice vinegar has a smoky flavor, while red rice vinegar is tart and sweet. Vinegars are often used for dipping sauces with Chinese food, as well as cooking.
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    Substitute brown sugar for palm sugar if necessary. Palm sugar is made from sap of the sugar palm tree and is used in many sweet dishes.

Article Info

Categories: Meal Planning