In Asian cuisines there are a handful of spices that are essential to creating the authentic flavors the dishes across the region are known for. While you may be more familiar with ingredients like ginger, basil and cumin, here we highlight a few of these traditional ingredients that are less common to Western cooking.

Lemongrass: An essential in Thai cooking used mostly for its aroma, lemongrass gives dishes a fresh and zesty touch. While most recipes call for fresh lemongrass stalks, lemongrass powder can be used in place of it in some recipes; we suggest using half as much powder to what the recipe calls for of fresh stalks. It is a featured ingredient in our Vietnamese Pork Rub and Green Thai Curry Powder.

Green Thai Curry Powder

Galangal: This spice adds an aromatic bitterness to a lot of Thai, Chinese and Indonesian dishes with its distinct citrusy and peppery flavor. Part of the ginger and turmeric family, galangal's flavor is more cooling and refreshing compared to the bite that ginger provides. The powdered version is great to add to sauces and soups. Galangal and lemongrass are natural partners and can both be found in our recipe kit for Yuli's Indonesian Beef Rendang with Yellow Coconut Rice.

Yuli's Indonesian Beef Rendang with Yellow Coconut Rice

Cloves: Added to soups, stews, and curries, cloves are a staple in Asian cooking. Whether you go for whole or ground gloves, this spice adds depth to any savory meal and works beautifully in slowly simmered dishes. Cloves are a star in the pickled vegetables in our recipe kit for Korean Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps with Scallion Rice + Pickled Vegetables.

Korean Bulgogi Lettuce Wraps with Scallion Rice + Pickled Vegetables

Sesame Seeds: With rich and nutty flavors, white and black sesame seeds are ingredients used often in both sweet and savory dishes. They're used to add texture and a little flavor to sweet treats and to make pastes, top noodle and vegetable dishes, or to simply add something to the appearance of a plate. Sesame seeds are a main ingredient in our Asian Sesame Tuna Rub and Togarashi Blend.

Togarashi Spice Blend

Coriander/Cilantro: This spice is a staple ingredient in the spice pastes and curries in Southeast Asian cooking. In Thai cuisine they use the root, leaves and stalks to make green curry pastes. In Chinese cuisine the leaves are most often used for fillings and topping dishes. Our Spicy Thai Peanut Ramen Recipe Kit uses both ground coriander seeds and fresh cilantro to come together.

Spicy Thai Peanut Ramen

Cardamom: Both black and green cardamom are used in Asian dishes. Black cardamom adds smoky and earthy notes to beef/pork stews, braises, and curries in Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines. Green cardamom is popular in adding a little sweetness and depth in Southeast Asian dishes, such as coconut milk based soups/curries and rice. Our Masala Chai Spice Blend features cardamom and can be used in baked goods, warm drinks or on a roast pork!

Masala Chai Spice Blend

Star Anise: The pods and individual petals of star anise are used a lot in Asian savory dishes to add aroma and enhance the flavors of other ingredients. It's often used in soups and broths in Southeast Asia, a key ingredient in Vietnamese Pho, and braised and stewed dishes in Chinese cuisine. Star anise is a key ingredient in our Chinese Five Spice, a popular blend in Asian cooking!

Chinese Five Spice


March 07, 2024

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