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Learn more about Asian flavors.

Try these Pacific-Rim-inspired recipes.


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Pacific Rim Pantry

Stock your pantry with these Asian staples and you'll be cooking your way around the whole Pacific Rim:

Cassia Bark


Called "Chinese cinnamon," it's more robustly flavored. In a pinch you can substitute cinnamon sticks but you'll need to use a few extra.

Chili Flakes


These are more convenient to use then whole dried chilies. Look for brightly colored, large flakes.

Chili Oil


This is vegetable oil infused with dried hot chilies. Bright red or orange and very spicy, just use a few drops in a dish.

Curry Paste


Thai cooking calls for red, yellow and green curry paste, while most Chinese dishes use the turmeric-based yellow. You'll find it in small cans, and it should be refrigerated once opened.

Black Beans


These are fermented black soybeans that are salted. They should be soft, and while you might want to chop them to disperse their flavor, it is unnecessary to rinse them since their salt carries the same musty flavor.

Fish Sauce


Known as nam pla in Thailand and nuoc mam in Vietnam, it's a thin, salty brown liquid made from fermenting salted shrimp or anchovies.



A fine, brown powder used primarily in Chinese cooking, it's made with star anise, fennel, Szechwan peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon. While it's easy to find, in a pinch substitute cinnamon and cloves.

Hoisin Sauce Thick and dark brown to red, hoisin is part of the family of sauces made from fermented wheat or soybeans. It has a sweet and fruity flavor usually cut with a bit of rice vinegar, garlic and five-spice powder. Refrigerate it once opened.
Miso This paste used in Japanese cooking is made from fermented soybeans and other grains. It can be stirred into boiling water for a healthful broth, and it's also used with vegetable dishes.
Oyster Sauce A rich, thick brown sauce made from oysters but it doesn't have a fishy flavor. It's simultaneously slightly sweet and salty. It makes an easy sauce for stir-fried vegetables such as broccoli or bok choy. Refrigerate it once opened.
Rice Vinegar Tangy and refreshing, it's a mild vinegar used in salad dressings and cooking. It's best to buy it unseasoned. Many brands are mixed with salt and spices, and sold as "sushi vinegar."

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