From the deep, dark cave that is Pepper’s Pantry comes…our favorite Asian sauces! Half the time we have no idea where she got them (especially the ones that have literally no English on the label), but chances are she snuck off to Thaitown when she was “getting her hair done” or “running an errand.” Either way the pantry always has all of these things (plus many more! I am sure there will be a second installment to this at some point), and JK you can actually find most of these at your local Asian grocer or even just a plain old supermarket with a good selection of international products).
Mom is even known to travel with her favorites (word to the wise: if you're taking a bottle of fish sauce on the road, make sure it's SEALED AIRTIGHT. Recommendation from a friend…)Don’t be afraid of these bottles! Sometimes we even use two or three to make the flavors of a dish really come alive. Mix, match, and experiment. Have fun!
For more of Mom's Thai must-haves watch here.
Simply fermented soybeans, wheat (but there are gluten-free versions, too), water, and salt. As you know this is a multi-cultural condiment for me, and I’ve used it on a lot of Asian recipes but also in the super savory French onion soup from original Cravings. Comes in low sodium and regular versions (which one do you think we use more???)
Kwong Hung Seng Sauce/Sweet Soy Sauce
Think soy plus some sugar, then think of the possibilities. Drinkably ridiculously good, and great for giving food a really deep golden color.
Soy Bean Paste
Funky and stinky, in other words: the best. Since half of the best Asian sauces have the aroma of smelly socks, this one fits the bill. Add to wokky-skillety things like Pepper’s famous Pad Thai Carbonara (from Hungry For More).
| Think of this as a thinner Maggi. Filled with to the brim with MSG, it’s umami to the max, in the best possible way.
Sweet Chili Sauce
The OG crossover condiment! Pours as freely as water and is always on the table when we’re serving dumplings, wontons, spring rolls, etc.
| Mildly fishy, brown-saucy, the secret to lots of your favorite Asian stir-fry type items without you even knowing it. Sometimes contains oyster extract (juice), sometimes has no oyster at all, but you get the idea.
Sweet Plum Sauce (not to be confused with hoisin sauce)
Made with vinegar, cornstarch, and fermented plums. Since it’s a little tangy it’s a great dipping sauce for spring rolls and other fried stuff.
Japanese cooking wine, sweetened with sugar, almost like a thin simple syrup combined with (let’s face it) cheap wine. It adds sweetness (with a touch of dry) to Asian sauces and, because of the sugar, serves as a bit of a thickener, too.
This is like a little bottle of umami magic. Just looking at the bottle makes my mouth water. Just remember, it’s really concentrated and salty, and a little bit goes a long way.
So in Vietnam they pack tiny little anchovy fishes into barrels with salt, and let them sit in the sun for months, and then the golden liquid that drip, drip, drips out is our beloved fish sauce. This finds its way into more of mom’s dishes than anything else and is as popular in Thailand as it is in Vietnam and you should always, always have a bottle around. It lasts forever in the pantry and don’t worry about refrigerating it.