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"Asian" condiments and staples

I’d like to put together a gift basket of “Asian” pantry items as a housewarming present for some good friends. Pretty sure they don’t have most of these. Would love to know your favorite brands. I’ll be able to go to an Asian market so there should be a pretty good selection.

Sesame oil, peanut oil, chili paste, red curry paste, red miso, tamarind concentrate, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, tamari, coconut milk, soba noodles, rice noodles. Any other key items you can think of? Thanks!

Pegeen is a trusted home cook.

asked over 3 years ago

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28 answers 1805 views
Nancy
Nancy

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added over 3 years ago

Pretty complete list. Optional additions...coconut butter and/or ghee, basmati rice, garam Masala, rose water, orange blossom water, pomegranate molasses, saffron.

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Pegeen
Pegeen

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added over 3 years ago

Thanks, Nancy. I'm going to omit Indian and Middle Eastern items or I'm afraid the list will never end! :-) Do you have any favorite brands for the "Asian" items?

Nancy
Nancy

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added over 3 years ago

Sorry about the brands...I tend to choose by visual label in Korean, conese or indan stores And don't always know or remember brands. For sesame oil, I like dark or cold pressed (more flavor), red curry paste without shrimp as an ingredient as many are allergic to it. If you have time and can find it (online, bookstore) Linda bladholme wrioe a fine book, Asian grocery store demystified, where she guides reader around store, explains foods & recommends brands. Very helpful.

Greenstuff
Greenstuff

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added over 3 years ago

I've had a lot of luck following Kasma Loha-unchit's recommendations for ingredients used in Thai cooking http://www.thaifoodandtravel...

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TobiT
added over 3 years ago

Rice paper for making spring rolls.

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Summer of Eggplant
added over 3 years ago

Kombu, nori, bonito flakes, gochujang, black vinegar, more assorted noodles - various rice, soba and ramen, shrimp paste (maybe?), if you have access to good premade curries those are great for a weeknight meal.

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sexyLAMBCHOPx
sexyLAMBCHOPx

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added over 3 years ago

My Asian pantry staples include: Red Boat Fish Sauce, Huy Fong Foods Sambal Oelek, Lan Chi Chili Paste with Garlic, Huy Fong Sriacha Sauce.

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sexyLAMBCHOPx
sexyLAMBCHOPx

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added over 3 years ago

Also, Thai Jasmine rice but and put it in a canister so I don't know the brand.

nancy essig
added over 3 years ago

Mirin, Gochujang hot pepper paste, chili oil

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scruz
added over 3 years ago

some good dried mushrooms and maybe some pickled vegetables. maybe some chinese sausages. rock sugar. i would definitely pick up a small fine mesh strainer for scooping up the scum on top of soups (this is one of my favorite tools). either 5 spice herb mix or the individual ingredients and some cut down coffee filters to fill them with the 5 spices for adding into soups and making their retrieval easy. what a fun present.

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Panfusine
added over 3 years ago

Dried Kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass

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Panfusine
added over 3 years ago

I stock up on Maesri brand for all the cans of curry paste,

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cookbookchick
added over 3 years ago

Pegeen, here's a link to an article by Eileen Yin-Fei-Lo about buying Chinese ingredients. She names the brands she prefers for some of them. You might find it helpful: http://www.finecooking...

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cookbookchick
added over 3 years ago

* Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

Pegeen
Pegeen

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added over 3 years ago

Thanks, everyone, for these terrific tips. They're much appreciated. I know my list is a it of a mish-mosh but I was glancing through a few recipes to include in their basket and it seemed to cover at least the basics. I will be printing out your tips and saving them!

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Pegeen
Pegeen

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added over 3 years ago

Correction to above: "a BIT of a mish-mosh"

QueenSashy
QueenSashy

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added over 3 years ago

Oh Pegeen, can you be my friend :)
Some of my "Asian" favorites include ume plum vinegar, ponzu sauce, mirin and yuzu kosho. And needless to say, a bottle of nice sake (so that they can make black cod miso and then drink the rest).

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Pegeen
Pegeen

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added over 3 years ago

It would be my privilege! :-)

This is so interesting to read... people are adding so many great items. But I forbid myself to get into dried spices or fresh ingredients, otherwise I will (well, my credit card will) go to hell in a gift basket.

In many ways it's a selfish gift. We eat together often and they could seriously use some Asian influences in their rotation.

LE BEC FIN
added over 3 years ago

sashy, this is an aside, but plse tell me what you like to use that plum vinegar for. I bought it once; it is VERY expensive; and I didn't like the flavor, much to my surprise.Thx.

QueenSashy
QueenSashy

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added over 3 years ago

… forgot to mention, some Szechuan pepper and star anise.

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AntoniaJames
AntoniaJames

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added over 3 years ago

Doenjang, a Korean fermented soybean paste that has a rich, strong flavor -- holds it own during cooking, unlike miso, adding great depth not only to Asian dishes, but also to braises, stews, bean dishes, etc. without any Asian ties, especially vegetarian and vegan ones I've tried several brands from our Korean market and all are good. (I get the impression that doenjang is a "commodity" type of ingredient, i.e., there's little if any product differentiation.) ;o)

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LE BEC FIN
added over 3 years ago

aj, i don't know if you watch foreign films, but there is a really wonderful Korean film (dvd available) of The Recipe about a woman's magical dish, and all the components that went into it, including that fermented bean paste i believe.

Allyn
added over 3 years ago

I love Japanese Hon Dashi bonito fish soup stock (and yes… it has MSG), and S&B Nanami Togarashi, which is a great seasoning to have on hand.

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QueenSashy
QueenSashy

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added over 3 years ago

LE BEC FIN, to answer your question, I had the same experience like you – when I first tasted plum vinegar it was very different from what I expected it to be. I do not use it in large quantities, usually a drop of two when I feel like adding a fruity note to a dish. For example, if I am making vinaigrette, I will use rice vinegar and a drop or two of umeboshi, and it will give it a nice fruity finish. I have a bottle of fancy blood orange infused olive oil and like to mix it with umeboshi, it makes for a lovely vinaigrette and also nice glaze for radishes. (This also works with regular olive oil, orange zest and orange juice, without additional $$$.) Sometimes, I toss it over steamed vegetables instead of salt. I make green pea humus with it. Sometimes I add it to broths as a seasoning.

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Healthline
added over 3 years ago

Hoisin sauce is another Asian condiment that has an intense salty, sweet, but spicy flavor. It's great in this Beef with Soba Noodle dish: http://www.healthline.com...

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Meaghan F
added over 3 years ago

I can't top the awesome edible suggestions already given, but maybe consider some chopsticks and a couple small condiment bowls if they don't already have them; most Asian markets have inexpensive selections of both.

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