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A FRESH Point of View: Primer on Asian Ingredients

At FRESH, we pride ourselves on offering a large selection of Asian ingredients in our Grocery Department.  And often I get questions on them – how to use certain sauces, what pairs well with particular types of noodles, etc.

Although this category is vast and I could write a book on all of our great Asian condiments, sauces, vinegars and oils, I pulled out a few of our most popular to write about today.  If you have questions, always feel free to ask one of our grocery Freshies or Freshologists for help!

Coconut Milk
An extraction made by seeping freshly grated coconut in boiling water or milk and used in Southeast Asian desserts, curries and shellfish recipes.

Fish Sauce
Fermented fish and salt is used to make this unique sauce. It is often used as a marinade for fish and meat, as well as a condiment.  It is a staple in Thai cooking.

Hoisin Sauce
This is a sweet and garlicky bean sauce that’s often used as a dipping sauce.  Traditionally, hoisin sauce is made using toasted mashed soy beans.

Green Curry Paste
Aromatic herbs such as lemon grass, Thai ginger and fresh green chilis are blended with fragrant spices. Use as a stir-fry seasoning, a soup base, or with coconut milk to create a delicious Thai curry.

Oyster Sauce
Containing extract from oysters, soya sauce, sugar and salt. This sauce is used in various Thai dishes, such as fried vegetables.

Panko
These buttery bread crumbs are used in Japanese cooking to coat foods for frying.

Red Curry Paste
A mash of red chilis, coriander roots and leaves, shrimp paste, lemon grass, garlic, shallots and Thai ginger.  Use in everything from stews, curries and soups to dressings, marinades and condiments.

Rice Wine Vinegar
This white to golden vinegar with a light clean taste adds a mild acidity to foods.

Soba Noodles
Made with buckwheat flour, this earthy Japanese noodle is traditionally served cold.

Soy Sauce
Soy sauce is made from soybeans that have been fermented and salted.  It is possibly the most common Asian ingredient in the United States.

Sriracha
Another of the most popular, sriracha is a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt.  It is named after the coastal city of Si Racha, in Central Thailand.

Tamari
This is the wheat-free version of soy sauce.

Toasted Sesame Oil
Made from toasted sesame seeds, this thick, rich oil is golden to dark brown in color and marvelously aromatic. Unlike lighter, almost flavorless sesame oils, which can be used in cooking, the toasted variety is used as a seasoning only.

Tofu
An ancient Chinese and Japanese product, tofu is made from curdled soy bean milk. Tofu is a nutritional powerhouse, protein-rich, and also low in fat and cholesterol.

Wasabi
The name for Japanese horseradish, wasabi comes either in powdered form or as a paste and is commonly associated with sushi.