Shopping List

Most of these can be found in your local grocery store. These ingredients add extra flavor with an exotic twist and can jazz up any dish. For some items, one may have to search around for or even order it online.

  • Can coconut milk (less preservatives the better)
  • Rice vinegar – light and not as strong as apple cider vinegar. Used in Asian cooking
  • Ghee – clarified butter often used in Indian cooking
  • Soy sauce – there are different types of soy sauce such as tamari, shoyu, light, and dark. There is even a difference in the region it comes from such as Chinese, Japanese, and Korean soy sauce.
  • Sofrito – made with garlic, tomato, peppers and onions. Used in Latin American cooking
  • Sirarcha – hot chili sauce
  • Fish sauce – fish such as anchovy or squid that has been salted and fermented for months, strained, and bottled. Also known in Thai cooking as Nam Pla
  • Mirin – sweet rice alcohol used in Japanese and Korean dishes
  • Gojuchiang paste – Korean red pepper paste used to make Kimchi. Very spicy thick paste, slightly sweet
  • Doengjang (soybean fermented paste) – sold in Asian markets like H-Mart and Lotte Plaza. It’s the stuff before the soy sauce that tastes…like soy sauce.
  • Balsamic vinegar – Originating in Italy. Made by using high quality grapes that are pressed, juices cooked down until dark and then fermented. Sweet and deep flavor used in dressings marinades and desserts
  • Palm sugar (jaggery) – made from the sap of the sugar palm. It comes as a disc used in Asian and African cooking and desserts
  • Piloncillo – similar to brown sugar but comes in a cone shape and is darker in color. Used in Latin American cooking. Tastes like brown sugar and molasses
  • Jerk paste – If one doesn’t feel like making homemade jerk sauce, this will do. Grace brand comes in mild and hot
  • Shrimp paste – very strong, smelly, and salty. Adds bold, fishy flavor to Thai dishes
  • Olive oil – There’s pure olive oil and then there’s extra virgin. Extra virgin is a unrefined oil that is fruitier in smell and flavor and used in marinades, dippings, and dressings. Pure olive oil is refined, lack flavor, and lighter in color. This oil can be used in cooking.
  • Turmeric – member of the ginger family native to India. Used in curries and gives food a yellow, orange hue.
  • Lemongrass powder – ground lemongrass. Sold in Asian markets and has a fragrant, lemony odor
  • Himalayan Salt – from the Punjab region of Pakistan. Pink color comes from mineral deposits. Taste? Bout the same as regular sea salt
  • Paprika – Made from air dried fruits of the chili pepper family. Used in eastern European and Turkish cooking. There are different kinds of paprika such as smokey, sweet, and hot.
  • Coconut Oil – This oil used to get a bad rep until recently. Mainly used in African and Latin American cooking as well as in vegan, vegetarian and raw dishes.
  • Greek (Strained) Yogurt – Aka labneh or yogurt cheese. Whey has been strained giving it a thicker consistency and sour taste. I prefer this yogurt over the regular and the Fage brand
  • Ginseng – Found in North America and East Asia. Used in energy drinks and herbal teas. Use in small amounts
  • Harissa – Hot pepper sauce native to North Africa with roasted red peppers, chilis, herbs and spices
  • Suya Pepper – This spice is used in West African Cooking. The heat is felt more in the front and dissipates in seconds leaving nothing but flavor
  • Groundnut – If a recipe calls for groundnut and groundnut paste, it’s just peanut butter