Asian Cooking: The Asian Spices And Ingredients You Should Have

Asian cuisine is one of the most popular methods of cooking around the world. Asian restaurants are everywhere nowadays. Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and Chinese fast food places are usually independent and small restaurants. This makes one’s dining experience feel more authentic. Aside from authenticity, people are just really attracted to spicy food. Asian cooking is known for this. These foods are not only tasty and flavorful. Most Asian dishes are also very healthy, and this makes Asian food as one of the better options when it comes to eating fast food. 

The secret of Asian cooking really lies in the spices used. Whether a dish originates from southern or eastern Asia, you can be sure that it has one or more spices. If you’re up to try Asian cooking, here are some spices that you should have in your kitchen to achieve that authentic Asian food taste.

1. Chili Sauce or Paste

Used as an ingredient or dipping sauce, chilli can literally make your food spicy hot. It is made from fresh chilli peppers that are blended with garlic and oil. Some chilli sauces also have shrimp paste and fish sauce for an added salty taste.

In Korea, they are fonder of using powdered chilli or chilli flakes. Hunan and Sichuan cuisines use more dried chilli peppers. The best and authentic chilli sauces are usually found in speciality shops.

2. Ginger

This is widely used in Asian cooking. This root crop originates from Southeast Asia. It is commonly used as a seasoning in Indian food. What’s great is that it’s not just flavorful as it also has medicinal values. It has vitamin B6, protein, magnesium, and manganese.

This is even a popular natural remedy for a sore and dry throat. It can also help alleviate nausea. It’s why there are so many products out there that are based on this spice. There are now ginger candies and teas that you can find in many stores and online.

3. Curry

Curry is more known to be purchased in the form of powder. However, you can actually get this wet and dry. Curry is a mixture of different spices like turmeric, cumin, chillies, and coriander. The taste of this sauce varies on what ingredients and other spices are used to create it.

If you get to try curries from different places in Asia, you’ll find that they taste different from each other. Different Asian countries incorporate their local ingredients to this sauce. Depending on the spices used, you can find red, yellow, and green curry in speciality shops found in Mercato.

4. Star Anise

The Star Anise is native to China and Vietnam. It has a licorice-like taste. It’s pungent and has a stronger flavour than regular anise. Only a small amount of this is used when cooking because of its powerful taste.

You’ll find this used in a lot of meat and poultry dishes. It also has medicinal values too. Some use this as an aid for digestion. Others would also use this to fight colic and rheumatism. You can easily get this spice in any supermarkets and groceries.

5. Bean Paste

This is more popularly used in Sichuan cuisine. It is typically reddish brown in color and tastes salty and spicy. It’s a complex spice because it takes time to make it. This is a spice that is aged for at least eight years.

Currently, it is made popular because of how it is commonly used in Korean dishes. However, Chinese and a few more southeast Asian countries like using this in stir-fry dishes too.

The savoury and strong salty flavour of this blends well with dishes like Mapo Tofu. You can even have this added in ramen or any Chinese noodles. This is available in various types of spiciness which you can find in any Asian stores and online.

6. Dark and Light Soy Sauce

These are the two types of soy sauce mostly used in Chinese cooking. Both are aged and have quite a salty flavour. However, light soy sauce tastes less salty. Since dark soy sauce has a stronger flavour, it is usually used to marinate meat and poultry.

It also adds that colour to a dish. Soy sauce is usually associated with sushi as it could also make a great dip. You’ll find this a great addition to stir-fried dishes like stir-fried beef and tofu. Like a lot of spices, this is also found to have benefits like anti-oxidants that could improve blood flow.

Soy sauce is generally popular, but you should give Asian soy sauce from speciality stores a try. You’ll find that this spice has different tastes depending on the region where it’s made.

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