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5 Essential Asian Ingredients To Use for Must-Try Asian Recipes

4 people sitting around a table laden with various Asian food

If you grew up in an Asian household, you would know that having just one Asian ingredient in your pantry can unlock a buffet of recipes that are waiting to be prepared and enjoyed! As long as you have an open-mind, adventurous palette, and a stomach that’s ready for some great Asian food, you’ll be able to whip up some dishes that could rival those you can find at your neighborhood Asian restaurant or even your mom’s cooking!

Let’s have a little bit of fun, shall we? We’ll give you an Asian ingredient that's available in Karman Foods’ catalog and share some delectable Asian dishes that you can prepare with them, maybe as a base ingredient or as a complement to many other colorful ingredients.

Let’s get cooking!

1. Hoisin

A bottle of Lee Kum Kee Hoisin Sauce

A must-have for any Chinese recipe, hoisin is a thick dark brown glaze that’s made from soybeans, fennel, red peppers, and garlic. It’s usually used as a marinade for meats like spicy hoisin chicken or as a dipping sauce for Peking duck. If you’re in the mood for some noodles, you can prepare some Dan Dan Noodles, a famous Shichuan street food. It’s made with freshly boiled wheat noodles that’s served with a dash of spicy chili oil mixture and topped with minced hoisin-seasoned pork, green veggies, green onions, and crushed peanuts.

2. Vinegar

A bottle of Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Vinegar
Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Vinegar

If there’s a vinegar-loving country in the world, it must be the Philippines. Made from fermented coconut sap or cane sugar, Filipinos have managed to incorporate vinegar in as many recipes as they can, whether it be as a dipping sauce for fried lumpia, a marinade for adobo, or as a simmer sauce for lechon paksiw. A Filipino dining experience just isn’t complete without that sour kick that will have you asking for second or third servings!

3. Soybean Paste

a tub of Haechandle Doenjang Korean soybean paste

Doenjang Paste is a type of Korean fermented paste that’s made from soybean and brine. Doenjang is considered as one of the essential sauces of authentic Korean cuisine. It’s like miso but a lot more pungent and umami-packed. Doenjang jjigae or traditional soybean stew is what most Korean locals would prepare with this savory sauce. There’s also Bossam or boiled pork belly wrap, where the meat is tied in a twine and boiled in a broth filled with spices, vegetables, and, of course, doenjang among others. You can’t leave out Gamjatang or Pork Bone Stew that’s prepared with potatoes and served with a bowl of rice. The best thing about these soybean stews is that you only need to scoop a spoonful of paste out of your tubs and let it do its thing. 

4. Fish Sauce

a bottle of Red Boat Premium Fish Sauce

A tablespoon of fish sauce can make a huge difference in your meals, especially when it’s made from premium-quality Phu Quoc black anchovies and sea salt. For an instant savory and flavor-packed Thai Chicken, a dash of fish sauce can complement the sweet chili sauce, ginger, and soy sauce that make up the marinade well. But for a no-fail weeknight snack, toss in a splash of fish sauce in your Pad thai for a full depth of umami flavors that can cure the soul.

5. Sweet Soy Glaze

A bottle of Kikkoman Sweet Soy Sauce for Rice

Kikkoman may be a Japanese brand but their sauces, including the delicious sweet soy glaze, are so versatile, you can use it for all types of recipes, even as a rice seasoning! You can use it as a marinade for your Galbi, or Korean grilled rib, for that sticky, smoky, and sweet finish. It’s also a great Yakitori glaze that you easily brush over your shrimp, chicken, or steak skewers while grilling. If you want a sweeter twist to your burgers, you can use this glaze over your burger meat, and add in your lettuce, tomato, and bacon. 

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