Looking for that distinctive flavour that gives an edge to Asian cuisine?
Do you want to know which condiments to stock in the cupboard to bring out the sweet, tangy, spicy, savoury and umami flavour of your recipes?
Here at Camseng, we love the varied flavours of Asian cuisine, so we have compiled a list of popular Asian condiments for you to enjoy at home!
An oldie but a goodie. One of the oldest condiments in the world, soy sauce dates back over 2,500 years to ancient China. Its basic ingredients are mashed soybeans, wheat, salt and yeast culture. Its salty, savoury, and slightly bitter flavour is a fan-favourite in the UK.
Soy sauce boasts a wide range of uses
It can be used as a dipping sauce, dressing, cooking ingredient, marinade, and as a table condiment. It is particularly popular with stir-fries, such as Chicken Chow Mein. For Japanese favourites, use soy sauce with Sashimi or Okonomiyaki.
There are several different types of soy sauce, so reaching for a bottle of Kikkoman isn’t going to work for every recipe. When using soy sauce in cooking it’s good to bear in mind Japanese soy sauce is known to be sweeter than its Chinese cousin.
Dark soy is richer and less salty than light soy and works better with sauces and marinades. Tamari is a gluten-free soy sauce with a richer, darker flavour. For Indonesia’s most popular soy sauce, try Kecap Manis – its aromatic and sweet taste bears hints of molasses and caramel and is added to dishes such as Nasi Goreng and Ketoprak.
Hot sauces are a must-have in Asian Cuisine; people often associate spicy food with an Asian menu. The types of hot sauces may be many, but sriracha sauce is a staple in most households.
It is made of red chilli peppers, garlic, sugar, distilled vinegar, and salt. Its taste comes with a kick – spicy, tangy-sweet with a hint of garlic. Versatility and unique taste play a starring role in its popularity and hence it is sometimes dubbed as ‘ketchup with a kick’.
Sriracha was originally a dipping sauce but nowadays it is used to add flavour to just about any dish including sauces, soups, seafood, meats, marinades, scrambled eggs, chips and burgers, to name a few. Why not even think outside the box and give chocolate sriracha brownies a go, or add sriracha as a twist to vegetable juice?
If you like it hot…
Other popular hot sauces to try at Camseng:
• Sambal: a chilli sauce or paste made typically with chilli peppers and a secondary ingredient such as lime juice or ginger. Use in stir-fries, as a condiment (heat level warning), or even sprinkle it on pizza!
• Chilli-garlic sauce: often used in cooking although it also works as a condiment. Give Chilli-Garlic Shrimp with Thai Lime Rice a try to get you started.
• Gochujang: a chilli paste with a spicy, savoury and rich complexity of flavour. Great for marinades and sauces. Used in a traditional Korean dish Bibimbap, or with Christmas fast approaching, you could even try stir-frying Brussels sprouts with Gochujang for a unique taste.
This brown, pungent sauce brings a strong, salty and distinctively ‘fishy’ (in a good way) taste to dishes. It is made by fermenting fish, commonly anchovies or squid, in sea salt and water. It is best used to add flavour (instead of using salt) to savoury dishes such as marinades and Southeast Asian curries. Red Thai Curry is a well-known dish with fish sauce, but it can also be used as a glaze for chicken thighs together with sugar, ginger and garlic.
Fish sauce promises that perfect umami complexity but do use it with care – add a little bit at a time so the taste or smell won’t overpower.
Other Popular Condiments
Sometimes referred to as the ‘Chinese barbecue sauce’, this fragrant, sauce with sweet, tangy and spicy elements is often used in marinades, stir-fries and grilled dishes. It is best used with meat.
Do bear in mind to avoid high heat as the sugar in hoisin sauce can easily burn and turn the flavour bitter.
Great for adding a salty-sweet taste to stir-fries. Due to its thick and sticky consistency, oyster sauce doesn’t have to be thickened with anything else. Add it to your dishes when the food is almost cooked.
White rice vinegar is more subtle in taste than other kinds of vinegar, having a hint of sweetness in it. It is made by fermenting rice and it is used as any other vinegar in marinades, salad dressings or for pickling vegetables. Use it to enhance flavour and to add an authentic taste to many dishes.
All the condiments listed above are available at Camseng. With the click of a button, experiment, enjoy and fall in love with the flavours of Asian cuisine!