12 Asian Sauces (Besides Sriracha) to Keep in Your Pantry
Move over sriracha, because there's an entire cast of sauces from Asian cuisines to fill your pantry! Whether you're craving sweetness, saltiness, acidity or umami, here are the Asian sauces you need.
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With its multi-dimensional flavor, you really can’t go wrong with soy sauce. Splash it in dipping sauces, marinades, soups or whatever for extra umami and salt. If you are worried about sodium or gluten, fear not—Kikkoman makes different types of soy sauce for everyone. Don’t forget to check out how to make mama Wen’s soy sauce chicken. Or use soy sauce in an unexpected way, like in this San Francisco style Vietnamese American garlic noodles recipe.
Chili Oil (Crisp)
Whether you want to add heat to a stir-fry or liven up a broth, chili oil and its crunchy counterpart chili crisp are essential. Try some Lao Gan Ma spicy chili crisp over anything (and everything!) or pour some S&B La-Yu over your next bowl of ramen or pile of gyoza.
This oil is mellow, toasty and a bit nutty. Toasted or “dark” sesame oil is best as a finishing touch to dishes, while “light” sesame oil is better to cook with. Drizzle some atop crisp salads, add to marinades or dipping sauces or pour over any soups or entrees for added depth.
Partly tart and partly sweet, tangy rice vinegar is the foundation for a number of sauces, seasonings and marinades in many Asian cuisines. Try your hand at making sushi rice, salad dressing or a dipping sauce for homemade dumplings.
No Southeast Asian meal is complete without fish sauce. This salty sauce made from fermented fish and krill is easily customizable with additions of garlic, splashes of lime, fresh chilies and sugar. Start your collection with Red Boat, Squid and Three Crabs fish sauces.
Made from fermented soybeans, this rich, salty and sweet sauce is often compared to American barbecue sauce. Hoisin sauce typically used as a part of dipping sauces, marinades or on its own in a variety of East and Southeast Asian dishes such as Peking duck or phở.
This savory dark oyster sauce is umami in concentrate and a favorite in Chinese, Khmer, Vietnamese, Thai and Malay cuisines. Throw it over some sauteed vegetables, in soups, fried noodles or fried rice for extra salt and richness. Despite its name, there are vegetarian versions of oyster sauce available.
With its red color and thick texture, this sweet, spicy and fermented paste is a staple in Korean cuisine. Depending on the type, gochujang can make dishes spicier, sweeter and or smokier in taste. It shines in bibimbap and tteokbokki, but also within salads, stews and marinated meats. It can even make a delicious addition to desserts—like in these gochujang caramel cookies!
This spicy and savory seafood sauce is a pillar in Cantonese cooking. Its relish-like mixture of dried seafood, onions, chilies, garlic and oil can be added while cooking or used as a condiment to enhance a dish’s taste and aroma. Taiwanese Penghu-style XO sauce with scallops is a must-try!
Despite beginning as a culinary endeavor to appease the cravings of U.S. soldiers occupying the Philippines during World War II, this combination of mashed bananas, vinegar and spices is widely used in Filipino cuisine today. Try some Jufran on tortang talong (eggplant omelets), in Filipino-style spaghetti or as dipping sauce for some lumpia (egg rolls).
Somewhere at the intersection of sweet, sour and savory, tamarind sauce is a South and Southeast Asian favorite. Add this tangy flavor profile to soups, prepare it as a chutney or work it into an amazing pad Thai to celebrate the range of your taste buds.