Friday, September 24, 2010

Top 10 Asian Ingredients Every Cook Should Have

Browsing through CNN's website today, I came across a brief article about the top 10 Asian ingredients that should be a staple in everyone's kitchen. The list comes from the 2 executive chefs at New York City's renowned Buddakan restaurant, Chefs Brian Ray and Yang Huang.

Here's their list:

Chef Brian Ray's
1. Kewpie Mayo
Kewpie is the most fabulous mayonnaise ever. It’s just awesome. You can fix anything with some of this stuff.
2. 3 Crab brand Fish Sauce
Fish sauce can run the gamut. They can be too strong or too salty. 3 Crab is middle of the road and just has that perfect flavor.
3. Mae Ploy Chili Sauce
It’s a viscous, sweet chili sauce. It will stick to anything. I love to marinate chicken in it and throw it on the grill. The sugars in it caramelize perfectly.
4. Hoisin Sauce
To me, hoisin is the most generic, basic and solidly good sauce you can have. It’s like the KC Masterpiece of Asian food. You can put it almost on everything and it’s good every time.
5. XO Sauce
I refer to this as the truffle oil of Chinatown. If you want to add a unique flavor or finish a sauce, this is what you should use. It has a chili flavor, but with a robust seafood essence. They may cost about the same, but truffle oil is an artificial flavor, and XO is an all natural “luxury” item, made from high-quality ingredients
Yang Huang's List
1. Soy Sauce
I can’t think of an Asian pantry not having soy sauce in it. It’s very common ingredient used in so many dishes. It’s really a must-have.
2. Sweet Rice
I love this type of rice because it’s toothsome. It has a bite and it’s heartier.
3. TYJ brand Spring Roll Wrappers (TYJ brand)
This one’s my favorite because of quality. Spring roll wrappers are great because you can do so much with them. You can make egg rolls, wontons, spring rolls. They add such a nice texture.
4. Chinese Five Spice
When you taste this there’s no doubt that you’re eating something Asian. It’s a unique flavor to our culture. It’s an essential in many dishes such as Peking duck.
5. Oyster Sauce
The beauty of oyster sauce is that if you use it you don’t need to add a lot of different ingredients since its flavor is so unique and complex. It’s like soy sauce, but thicker and with more body. It has a shellfish flavor and is salty but not too overpowering.
Here's the original article on CNN at Eatocracy.
I pretty much agree with everything here. I would add my own list:
1. Freshly toasted and grounded cumin and coriander spices
2. Coconut milk
3. Sesame oil
4. Shaoxing cooking wine
5. ABC brand sweet soy sauce (or "kicap manis")

In a pinch, these ingredients can be used to cook with almost any ingredient. So, it's time to stock up.

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