My guide to Chinatown Sauces and Condiments On Sale
Description: Chili oil is a mixture of dried peppers, garlic, and salt in oil.
Uses: This is a great ingredient to add to marinades, add it with soy sauce to make a quick dipping sauce for dumplings, noodles, etc., add it directly to your stir fry for added zing.
Links: Red Cook
Where to buy: This bottle came from Low Dao. You can make your own (recipe coming soon) or buy this in your local asian market. It’s even available on Amazon.
Fermented Bean Curd
Description: Fermented bean curd is a form of preserved tofu and comes in a jar with either red or white sauce. It looks like cubes of tofu with seasoning.
Uses/Recipes: Typically, the white variety is used to flavor vegetables, and the red variety is used in a vegetarian dish called jai (recipe coming soon).
Where to buy: Chinatown, asian market, Amazon (white variety)
Description: Not to be confused with plum sauce, hoisin sauce is sweet and savory. It usually comes in a jar or a plastic squirt bottle.
Uses: Hoisin sauce can be used straight out of the can as a dipping sauce or spread for meat dishes like peking duck, or pho. It can be added to your noodles, stir fry or straight to broth for additional flavor.
Where to buy: Asian food aisle in most grocery stores
Description: Oyster sauce needs no introduction. Everyone knows what this is, and the Chinese put it in practically everything. This is the brand I am accustomed to using.
Uses: Pour directly on steamed vegetables, stir fry, fried rice and fried noodles.
Where to buy: Amazon, Asian food aisle in most grocery stores.
Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce
Description: Another staple in the Asian pantry. Sriracha sauce is spicy and flavorful and comes in a clear bottle with rooster on it and a green cap.
Uses: You can add this to almost anything. Use it like you would tobasco, add it to shoyu or hoisin sauce to make a spicy dipping sauce, or add is straight to your broth for some added heat.
Where to buy: Asian food aisle in most grocery stores, Amazon.
Soy Sauce (Yes, really!)
Names: Soy sauce, shoyu
Description: I once brought low-salt shoyu home instead of Kikkoman brand shoyu, and I still haven’t heard the end of it. Don’t make the same mistake, unless of course you are on a low-salt diet for health purposes, in which case you may not want to use soy sauce at all. Kikkoman brand is a little more expensive, but the taste is unmatched by the lesser brands.
Uses: In practically everything – add shoyu and chili oil together to make a universal dipping sauce for potstickers and dumplings, pour directly into your stir fry, noodles or fried rice to add flavor.
Where to buy: Literally everywhere