Healthy Asian Ingredients for Your Kitchen
Authentic Asian Ingredients That Happen To Be Healthy
The Baseline Ingredients
Gluten-Free Soy Sauce
Soy sauce has been used for over 2200 years, and is the most crucial sauce for Asian cooking. Recently, it is made by fermenting soy beans with wheat and bran. But this is not always the case – the wheat and bran simply make the fermentation easier and cheaper, but don’t add anything to the flavor. San – J Organic Tamari Gluten-Free Soy Sauce is 100% certified gluten-free, and tastes just the same.
Asian vinegar, such as Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar 镇江香醋), is hard to find gluten free as the fermentation process uses wheat. Additionally, due to the sour taste, sugar is added for balance, increasing the carb count over naturally fermented rice vinegar. Instead, use Japanese pure rice vinegar (komezu 米酢). Very close in taste, but keeps it healthy!
Unlike Western cooking wines, Chinese cooking wines all use wheat as a part of the fermentation procedure. There are only a few options for gluten-free Asian cooking wine. For example, you can use dry sherry, Japanese Premium sake (only those labelled Premium are gluten-free), or pure rice cooking wine. Dry sherry is the closet thing to Shaoxing wine, the most famous traditional Chinese cooking wines. However, this version of mirin (Japanese rice wine) also works well.
Fish sauce is the base ingredient of so many different Southeast Asian dishes! It provides the super savory or umami flavor to many Thai and Vietnamese dishes. That said, be super careful when shopping as you want something that is 100% fish sauce. Many brands use additives that take away from the authentic process. Red Boat is the best out there, as it’s 100% pure fish with careful sourcing. And consequently, fish sauce can be good for up to two years after opening in the fridge – so splurge on the best!
Gluten-Free Hoisin Sauce
Hoisin sauce gives that sweet and tangy flavor to a lot of different Chinese dishes. For example, it can be used in a mix of different sauces or even on its own. That said, be careful when shopping, as Hoisin Sauce is a combination of other sauces. As a result, sometimes it can include not so great ingredients that come through one of the mixtures in the sauce. San-J brand’s Hoisin Sauce is definitely the closet thing to the real thing, consequently keeping the taste but avoiding the gluten and other hidden allergens.
Five Spice Powder 五香粉
Five Spice Powder is literally that – five different spices that work perfectly together for many Chinese flavors. First, it’s typically a blend of star anise, cloves, Chinese cinnamon (which has a slightly different flavor from Vietnamese or Indonesian cinnamon!), Sichuan pepper, and fennel seeds. Second, it’s extremely fragrant given the wide variety of sweet, savory, and spicy flavors. Third, just a little bit can completely bring out the flavor of any dish. And lastly, when buying, keep it simple, and make sure the ingredients are just the five spices. For example, Simply Organic’s blend is a great option, with organic spices and no additives.