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Updated on July 13, 2010

The Essential Ingredients


Canola Oil – Is prone to smoking and burning if the heat is too high for too long. Canola oil is at its best when used over medium to low heat.

Chilli Oil - Orange-red in color, this spicy item is delicious drizzled over noodle dishes, soups or stir-fries.

Coconut Oil - This oil is richer than peanut oil, but it is especially delicious when used in making Thai curries.

Grape Seed Oil - Mild flavoured oil, this has the same healthful benefits as canola and olive oil.

Palm Oil - The palm tree is used for making both palm sugar and oil. The oil is used in cooking, in making cosmetics and other products.

Peanut Oil - Also known as ground nut oil, this oil has a deep flavour and can sometimes taste and feel a bit heavy.

Sesame Oil - Extracted from sesame seeds, it has a strong nutty flavour. It should be used sparingly because its pungent flavour will go a very long way.

Soy Sauces and Other Soybean Products

Chinese Light Soy Sauce - A basic seasoning in Chinese cooking – “light” refers to its fluidity. It is made from fermented soy beans, wheat, and yeast and sometimes labelled “thin” soy sauce.

Chinese Thick Soy Sauce - Also known as “dark” soy sauce, this is less salty, sweeter, and thicker than Chinese thin or light soy sauce, because of the inclusion of molasses.

Hoisin Sauce - A sweet thick bean sauce, with a near paste consistency, that is made primarily from fermented soy beans, vinegar, sugar and garlic.

Japanese Dark Soy Sauce - It is made up of equal amounts of soybean and wheat. Kikkoman, the most popular of all Japanese soy sauce.

Fermented Bean Curd - Small cubes of strongly scented pasty curd that tastes of wine must. The three main types are white, red and spicy flavoured with red chilli.

Miso - It is made from fermented soybeans and rice. There are dozens of types but the most common are white, red and black miso.

Seafood Sauces and Pastes

Anchovy Sauce - Chinese anchovy or shrimp sauces are light gray thick liquids or loose pastes and are fluid compared to the Southeast Asian Thai or Indonesian shrimp pastes.

Bagoong Sauce - The Filipinos make bagoong from tiny anchovies and shrimp. A loose, greyish, opaque thick liquid, it has chunks of the fish or shrimp in it.

Fish Sauce - This sauce is an indispensable seasoning in Southeast Asia. The best versions are made with special select anchovies.

Oyster Sauce - This thick brown sauce is made from dried oyster extract, sugar, water, salt and cornstarch.

Shrimp Paste - Thai and Indonesian f foods would not be complete without shrimp paste.

Wines and Other Liquids

Rice Alcohol - This distilled 100 percent alcohol made from fermented sticky rice is white and crystal clear.

Sake - Sake is white in color or crystal clear and has the same alcohol level as Chinese rice wine.

Mirin - This is sweetened sake. It is added to marinades, dipping sauces or dressings.

Coconut Water - Southeast Asians collect the coconut water or juice from fresh, young green coconuts for cooking.


Chinese Black Vinegar - Strongly flavoured vinegar made of fermented “glutinous rice”, salt and water which dark brown in color.

White Rice Vinegar - Clean-tasting white rice vinegar, it is crystal clear and perfect for pickling ginger or vegetables.

Coconut Vinegar - This is made from coconut palm sap, and occasionally, coconut water that has been exposed to air for some time and soured.

Pastes, Sauces and Concentrates

Sesame Paste - Made from pureed sesame seeds, this oily tan paste is used for flavouring cold noodles.

Thai Curry Paste - Excellent commercial green (very spicy), red (spicy), or yellow (mildly spicy) curry pastes are made with chillies, lemongrass and galangal.

Wasabi Paste - It is made from Japanese horseradish.

Sweet Chile Sauce - This Thai spicy, sweet and slightly tangy sauce resembles a relish or chutney made of chillies and garlic.

Dried Seeds, Powders and Others Items

Annatto Seeds - These mild-flavors, tiny red seeds are added to dishes primarily for coloring.

Sesame Seeds - These are white or black and have a mild nutty flavour.

Five-Spice Powder - This Chinese spice blend of fennel seeds, star anise, licorice root, cloves, Szechwan peppercorn and cinnamon is often added to marinades for meat.

Indian Curry Powder - This powder contains spices such as turmeric, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, star anise, cinnamon and cloves.

Star Anise - It looks like a star. It is used in sweet and savory dishes.

Dried Nuts, Flower Buds and Fungi

Gingko Nuts - These nuts are delicious roasted, boiled, steamed and added to savory or sweet dishes.

Pine Nuts - Pine nuts are widely used in both Italian and Korean cooking.

Black Mushrooms - Most commonly known as shitakes, these mushrooms have a more concentrated aroma when dried than when fresh.

Dried Seafood

Abalone - A fairly expensive item found in several sizes.

Fish - These fish items have a concentrated flavour which is a result of being sun-dried.

Oysters - Available in several sizes and prices, oysters are sun-dried.

Scallop - One of the most expensive dried seafood items and one of the most delicious.

Shrimp - Used to season a variety of dishes, dried shrimp add a chewy texture and distinct flavour.

Squid - These are used to season and add texture to a variety dishes. They are very pungent so use sparingly.

Fresh Herbs and Other Seasoning

Cilantro - Also known as coriander or Chinese parsley.

Curry Leaves -Small, dried and sweet leaves-it imparts a lemony and curry-like essence.

Garlic - Garlic appears in almost every savory dishes, especially meat dishes, in part because of its benefits.

Ginger - An important flavour ingredient in Asian cuisine. It is considered therapeutic for stomach aches and seafood poisoning.

Lemongrass - Also known as citronella. Its unique tangy flavour compliments a wide range of dishes, from soups to stir-fries to stews and even desserts.

Scallions - Also known as green onion and spring onion.

Shallot - Southeast Asians refer to shallot as red onion.


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    • profile image

      gemy an 

      4 years ago

      good ,now i know


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