Saturday, July 18, 2009

Asian Pantry Essentials

Our pantry is an abomination. I guess Im largely responsible for this, rather than my Malaysian Chinese husband. I'm one of those people that feigns organisation: what you see are the clean public 'surfaces' of our kitchen, what you dont see are the interiors of cupboards which contain a private chaos of the jammed in bottles, packets and jars. I would like it to be otherwise, as I am sure if I knew where everything was, I would actually be more efficient in the kitchen. But, sadly, Virgo is not my 'rising sign' and the chaos remains until such a time as my patient and incredibly neat husband has had enough of losing the balachan behind the breakfast cereal and restores order to the madness.

But, the purpose of this post is not to attempt to re-think pantry organisational techniques. Rather, I was asked by my sister what kind of Asian essentials we keep in the pantry. SO having confronted the mess, I have taken stock of what we do have, and here's the shopping list, Liz! Its not complete, by any means, but contains the basics that we use overy other day.
  • Fish sauce
  • Oyster sauce
  • ABC thick sweet soy sauce
  • sweet chilli sauce (Thai)
  • tamarind paste
  • palm sugar
  • red and green curry paste (for cheating purposes)
  • 'Hogans' laksa paste (ditto)
  • Chinese rice wine vinegar (shao sing)
  • sesame oil
  • white pepper
  • Chinese black vinegar
  • dark soy sauce
  • Hoi-sin sauce
  • light soy sauce
  • dried shrimp (add to soups/stir fries)
  • mirin
  • dashi
  • Noodles: bean thread noodles, rice vermicelli, soba and udon noodles
  • dried gelatin (in strips)
  • Black rice, jasmine rice, mung beans
  • star anise, curry leaves (fresh are best) , yellow and black mustard seeds, tumeric powder, cummin, corriander + too many to mention....
Oh, and we keep the balachan in the freezer! (It pongs)


  1. Hi Jen

    Its nice to see you back and learn about your time away.

    I have most of these ingredients too, for Japanese, Thai and Chinese cooking....
    We love Japanese meals - curries, especially while it is cold, and Marbu tofu which is found throughout Asia...I also use some of Kyliw Kwongs recipes...

    Happy Days

  2. Thanks Delwyn,
    Ooooo... I love Kylie kwongs recipes: wonderfully honest Chinese fare. alunceston, sadly does not give us access to exotic forms of tofu... ill investigate the marbu variety....sounds interesting

  3. lovely hew header-the light is so good. thanks for the list -off to restock at central market!