the appetizer:

Things Cooks Love by Sur La Table and Marie Simmons explores the best kitchen tools, including the Cast Iron Skillet and Portuguese Cataplana, provides information on world cuisines, from The Asian Pantry to The Moroccan Pantry, and offers recipes like Clam, Pork, Sausage, and Bacon Stew and Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb.

Cookbook Profile

The Asian Pantry

Excerpt from Things Cooks Love by Sur La Table and Marie Simmons

Asian Pantry


Many of us love Asian food but don't necessarily feel comfortable cooking it at home. However, many Asian recipes rely on a minimum of tools and cookware, use techniques that are easy to master, and call for only a handful of ingredients. In this chapter, you'll take a closer look at a few classic pieces of cookware found in Chinese and Japanese kitchens such as the wok, suribachi, and bamboo steamer. The fascinating ingredients typically found in an Asian pantry include pickled ginger, tamari, and umeboshi; the accompanying recipes put them to use. You'll also find suggestions for substitute cookware if you don't have the authentic piece on hand. Soon the thought of cooking Asian food at home will no longer seem impossible.

Chile-Pepper Oil

Sold in small bottles in Asian grocers, chile oil is vegetable oil that has been steeped with hot red chiles. It's used as a seasoning in dipping sauces, stir-fries, soups, and other dishes. Buy it in a small bottle and store in the refrigerator to preserve its heat and keep it from turning rancid.

Chinese Rice Wine

Sometimes called yellow wine, rice wine is made from fermented rice. It has a slightly nutty taste and is used in many Chinese dishes. It is available both salted for cooking and unsalted for cooking and drinking. Look for Shao hsing, which can be purchased in Asian markets. If Chinese rice wine is unavailable, dry sherry, sake, or dry white vermouth can be substituted.

Chinese Salted Black Beans

These small, fermented, very salty black soybeans are used to flavor steamed and stir-fried seafood, chicken, or vegetables. They come in small plastic bags. They can be rinsed before using to remove some of the salt. Store at room temperature.

Fish Sauce

Pungent and salty, fish sauce, made by allowing salted fish, usually anchovies, to ferment in large earthenware crocks or barrels in the sun, is used as both a flavoring and a condiment in Southeast Asia. There is a wide variety of brands to choose from in Asian groceries and well-stocked supermarkets, most of them from Thailand. Once opened, store fish sauce in the refrigerator. Buy a small bottle as a little goes a long way.

Five-Spice Powder

The spices used in this aromatic blend vary among manufacturers, but can include any combination of cinnamon, fennel, star anise, clove, ginger, and Sichuan peppercorns. It is a popular ingredient in southern China and in Vietnam, where it is used in rubs, marinades, and as a seasoning.

Fresh Ginger

A knobby-looking rhizome with thin tan skin and creamy white, somewhat fibrous flesh, fresh ginger is used in soups, marinades, stir-fries, and countless other ways. The skin is easily peeled with a paring knife or scraped off with the edge of a teaspoon. Once peeled, the flesh is grated, slivered, or chopped. Ginger, which has a pleasantly spicy, peppery yet sweet flavor, is stocked in the produce section of most supermarkets. Store unwrapped in the vegetable bin in the refrigerator. For longer storage, slip ginger into a resealable plastic freezer bag and freeze for up to four months, then peel and grate or chop while still frozen.


Buy Things Cooks Love: Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.


Things Cooks Love:
Implements. Ingredients. Recipes.

Tips and Techniques

This page created May 2008