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Master Reference for Asian Ingredients


Starkman
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Hello all,

Ok, I was watching Alton Brown's Good Eats episode where he goes into an Asian store and tells you about some of the items in there he'll need for the recipe he was making. As Alton is known for doing, he educates you, and in doing so, I realized how nice it would be to have a reference of Asian store-bought groceries.

When browsing an Asian store, it's very difficult to know which brands and items are which and which is best for the job. I'd like to have a better command of the groceries in Asian markets than just having to search for what I need based on a specific recipe, which in itself can be a challenge. So does anyone know of references (books, Internet, etc.) that categorize, list, or otherwise note the many (typical?) Asian ingredients you can find in Asian stores?

Last, the attendant in the store I visited would only point me to a bottle of Pad Thai seasoning and not give me the real ingredients and method of how the market's adjoing restaurant prepares Pad Thai. Rats!

Thanks much,

Starkman

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Starkman, when you "Asian" I'm not sure what you mean, but I don't know of any one book that attempts to list every ingredient used in all of Asian cooking. On the Internet you can find plenty of glossaries broken down by cuisine. If you are looking for Chinese ingredients, for example, you can find a glossary here. For Korean ingredients, here. Etc.

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Bruce Cost's 'Asian Ingredients' does exactly what you want. It's an excellent book.

That's the one I've always had on my shelf, and it does a fine job. Be aware though, that it is 20 years old, and at least in the markets I shop, there are a lot more ingredients now available.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Batard is right somehow

Asia ingredients What?

Chinese north, south, centre,west,east.

Japanese, Korean

Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese,Cambodian, Indonesian, Malaysian even Singapore has its own style and ingredients then the Indian Subcontinent and Persia and Central Asia as you can see it is just a very broad term just as much as a Asian person goes chasing European or American products. What is your interpretation of American in English does not translate in other languages as the country above the Rio Grande.

It very much depends on how you want to look at things and how much you want to know.

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Asia ingredients What?

Chinese north, south, centre,west,east.

Japanese, Korean

Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese,Cambodian, Indonesian, Malaysian even Singapore has its own style and ingredients then the Indian Subcontinent and Persia and Central

Exactly! Asian ingredients. A description and understanding of as many as possible that are found in Asian markets here in the West.

Fish sauce, for example, will be called by different names by different Asian regions, which helps to simplify things, somewhat. Some ingredients will not be so common, but that's why I asked for references that address Asain ingredients and products (covering as many regions as possible, obviously) that are found in most Asian markets.

Thanks,

Starkman

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In my opinion......

You'll never find a "book" that will demystify the brands. We're at a point now where new brands are popping up at a very satisfying rate. The market is just that way.

For me, if I need specific material explained, I'll just post the question here on eGullet, and the answers will come.

What more do you need?

"If you post it, they will come"

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In my opinion......

You'll never find a "book" that will demystify the brands.  We're at a point now where new brands are popping up at a very satisfying rate.  The market is just that way.

For me, if I need specific material explained, I'll just post the question here on eGullet, and the answers will come.

What more do you need?

"If you post it, they will come"

More specifically, I'm not interested in brands. I'm only interested in the products themselves: say, the different types of noodles I am likely to find in an Asian Market; the different types of fish sauces (noting, of course, the different Asian countries that produce their basic fish sauces).

But yes, eGullet servers as the backup when all else...just isn't.

Thanks,

Starkman

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  • 1 month later...

While it won't explain anything beyond vegetables, I think that Beyond Bok Choy: A cook's guide to Asian vegetables by Rosa Lo San Ross to be one of the best references when it comes to Asian vegetables.

It's out of print but readily available at Amazon.

I also have The Asian Grocery Store Demysitfied and found it only somehat helpful.

Mark

My eG Food Blog

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I have been using this book as a reference for years:

The Complete Asian Cookbook - Charmaine Solomon

Charmaine Solomon

The book has been in print since 1976 and covers most Asian countries. It has an excellent glossary which gives the many different names for the same ingredient.

If for instance you had a Thai recipe calling for "yira", or a Malaysian recipe calling for "jintan puteh" or a SriLankan recipe asking for "sududuru" - in the glossary you can find that all of these ingredients are in fact Cumin in English.

Apart from the glossary which I used often when I was unfamiliar with ingredients, I've cooked dozens of recipes from the book and they are all excellent. It is a great book for those who are not familiar with Asian ingredients or method.

Hope this helps.

Peter.

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That looks like an excellent book! It looks like her focus is on the flavours of Southeast Asia, though - how comprehensive are the sections on Northeast Asia? I often judge a book on Asian cooking (biased as I am) on the seriousness with which it discusses Korean food beyond kimchi.

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That looks like an excellent book! It looks like her focus is on the flavours of Southeast Asia, though - how comprehensive are the sections on Northeast Asia? I often judge a book on Asian cooking (biased as I am) on the seriousness with which it discusses Korean food beyond kimchi.

Just to give you an idea - the old edition I have (I think the one currently in print has been revised)

has:

96 Pages on India & Pakistan

52 Pages on Sri Lanka

52 Pages on Indonesia

20 Pages on Malaysia

24 Pages on Singapore

29 Pages on Burma (Maybe Myanmar in the new edition?)

29 Pages on Thailand

10 Pages on Cambodia & Laos

16 Pages on Vietnam

20 Pages on The Philippines

69 Pages on China

19 Pages on Korea

29 Pages on Japan.

The Korean section has about 35 Recipes only one of which is KimChi.

Hope this is useful.

Peter.

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