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What Are Your Most Essential Asian Stir-Fry Products For Cooking On The Wok or Griddle?

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    What Are Your Most Essential Asian Stir-Fry Products For Cooking On The Wok or Griddle?

    I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with my new Wok and DNG. I’m really looking forward to trying my hand at this. So I have a few questions for you guys and gals. What products do you think are the most essential to keep on hand for (mostly Asian) stir-frys? Also, do you have a favorite brand you’ve found to be better than most? Luckily here in Houston we have a ton of Asian and other ethnic supermarkets fairly close to me. So if it’s not available at my Kroger, I won’t have too far to go.

    What I’d like to hear from y’all is what products (and brand names) should I always keep in my pantry or refrigerator? The top 5-10 should suffice me for now. I know from recent posts it was suggested I always have oyster sauce and cooking sherry. I was at Wally World yesterday and picked up this oyster “flavored” sauce, probably not the best but it’s all they had. Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

    Oyster “flavored” sauce from Walmart…left side. This is all I’ve got so far.
    Click image for larger version

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    Fish sauce
    Soy Sauce light and dark
    Oyster Sauce
    Hoisin Sauce
    Chili garlic sauce
    Thai red curry paste
    Sesame oil
    Sesame seeds
    Rice wine vinegar
    Shaoxing wine
    Last edited by Attjack; November 19, 2021, 03:30 PM.


    • RonB
      RonB commented
      Editing a comment
      fzxdoc - you could be right, I got that info from a wine store in the Outer Banks several years ago. I can get the salted variety in Asian stores here. Was the wine you saw in FM in the Asian section or the wine section? If in the Asian section, it probably had salt in it...

    • fzxdoc
      fzxdoc commented
      Editing a comment
      You're right, RonB , the Shaoxing wine from Fresh Market's Asian section or the Asian grocery that I frequent does have salt in it. It also has printed on the front label "Not for Beverage Use". That said, it's the exact same brand that Grace Young recommends in her book "The Breath of a Wok", so I trust it and use it all the time.


    • RonB
      RonB commented
      Editing a comment
      fzxdoc - My favorite Chinese cookbook. I think she says somewhere in the book to not use the version with salt. At least I don't know where else I would have seen it.

    • Kikkoman (lite) Soy
    • Red Boat fish sauce
    • Usually one of the red tubs of gochujang with a label we can't read/pronounce from the local H Mart
    • Mother in Law's Gochugaru chili flakes (useful for kimchi coleslaw!)
    • Hakubaku noodles (ramen, somen, etc) Yes, they're made in Australia.
    • Chinkiang Black vinegar
    • Chili Oil
    • Shaoxing wine (chinese rice wine)
    and as others will say: sesame seeds (toasted), ginger, miso - check firmness requirements!, bamboo shoots (we prefer matchstick pre-cut), assorted entertaining mushrooms, bok choy (ooooh, grilled bok choy is fun)
    Last edited by WillTravelForFood; November 19, 2021, 03:32 PM.


      If you make bloody Mary’s from scratch, fish sauce is an excellent thing to add in. You know, in case you were looking to find other reasons to use it.


        Here are some websites to read through. Whole new rabbit hole.








        10 Essential ingredients:



        How to stock the pantry:


        • Panhead John
          Panhead John commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks! I saw some great lists.

        • JCBBQ
          JCBBQ commented
          Editing a comment
          This is awesome. Was going to start a whole new thread but searched here first. Exactly what i was looking for.

        For stir frying in a wok, below are the items I use the most (often at the same time)

        Lite soy sauce (the kikomans you have is lite)
        dark soy sauce
        oyster sauce
        sesame oil
        fish sauce
        shao xing wine
        chili oil
        white pepper

        the above ingredients are all used (ex fish sauce) in a lo mein for example. If you extend deeper, things like doubanjiang or pixian bean sauce, Sichuan peppercorns, etc can extend your Chinese cooking repertoire. Those plus chiangking and rice wine vinegars make up most of my Chinese food pantry.

        Woks of Life is a great website and has a lot of great info and I love all of the recipes I’ve tried from them

        The other ingredients like gochujang, gochugaru are key in Korean food but I don’t really use my wok for those.


        • Panhead John
          Panhead John commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks shify Great list and good to know those you use most often. What did you think of my oyster “flavored” sauce? I haven’t used it yet, but should I look for something that just says..Oyster Sauce?
          Last edited by Panhead John; November 19, 2021, 05:49 PM.

        • shify
          shify commented
          Editing a comment
          Panhead John - still figuring my way around an Asian pantry so don’t know for sure. Being I’ve only used it as a component for a sauce I’m not sure Id even be able to know the difference between the two. I dont know if that is the vegetarian version or not but unless you are going for a strong oyster sauce dish, I would think you’d be fine using that
          Last edited by shify; November 19, 2021, 08:48 PM.

        Bachans Japanese Barbecue Sauce is a must. This stuff is excellent for some quick stir frys. Don't really think of it as a barbecue sauce but more of a delicious teriyaki type sauce. I have had the original and the spicy. Haven't tried the Yuzu version though.

        The stuff is great on the grill too:

        Click image for larger version

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        Other than that I would say soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil will cover 90% of what you want to do.


        • Panhead John
          Panhead John commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks Joe! Great info. Gonna try that Bachans.

        • JoeSousa
          JoeSousa commented
          Editing a comment
          Panhead John Seriously, this stuff is good on beef, chicken, pork, and even (shudder) vegetables. Haven't had it on fish yet but I see no reason why it wouldn't be great with salmon or shrimp. And next time you grill some wings toss them in this sauce after cooking.

        • Panhead John
          Panhead John commented
          Editing a comment
          Ok Joe, now ya got me! Wings in that sauce? Definitely gonna get some now. I’m gonna go check out a few Asian grocery stores nearby and stock up on my essentials, and that is on the list.

        The lists above are pretty complete so I don't have anything to add. Here is my favorite Gochujang paste: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

        You can make your own chili oil, its easy. Check out Mikey Chen's youtube channel Strictly Dumpling for the recipe and a how-to video.

        I like Pearl River Bridge light and dark soy sauces in addition to Kikkoman.
        Last edited by 58limited; November 19, 2021, 06:00 PM.


        • Panhead John
          Panhead John commented
          Editing a comment
          Me making my own chili oil? Ain’t gonna happen. I’m doing good to DO a stir fry. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna start making my own ingredients. 😂
          Last edited by Panhead John; November 19, 2021, 06:29 PM.

        Everything I use has been mentioned, so go fish.


          Good lists above here. There are a few staples to have that you can use over and over in multiple dishes. You’ve seen what I’ve made the last few weeks on the wok, all have included a combo of these:

          soy sauce (being gluten free, I only use one kind)
          Oyster sauce
          Sherry Wine (substitute for Shaoxing wine) I’ve never been able to find Shaoxing, but if I looked a bit more I’m sure i could
          sesame oil
          Garlic Chile paste
          Corn starch
          Chicken stock

          I’ve made 4-5 dishes over the last 2 weeks with just this. It’s a good base to start with. You have great suggestions above to add to your pantry as you start to find the flavors you enjoy the most.


            One I do not see is ginger. Use it often in Asian dishes. It also keeps well.


            • Panhead John
              Panhead John commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks David! How long will it keep in the fridge if stored properly? Ginger root?

            • DavidNorcross
              DavidNorcross commented
              Editing a comment
              Yes ginger root. I have stored in fridge for over a month. You can also freeze and get several month out of unpeeled ginger root

            Most of these are repeats, but my top handful personally..

            Agree ginger, I like this one when I don't have patience or access to grind fresh: https://gingerpeople.com/products/or...minced-ginger/
            Garlic: ideally fresh but those jars you keep in fridge are handy..
            Shaoxing wine
            Fish sauce (I like Red Boat)
            Doubanjiang (example https://themalamarket.com/collection...ou-doubanjiang)
            Toasted sesame oil Chinkiang vinegar


            • barelfly
              barelfly commented
              Editing a comment
              Oh yeah - garlic and ginger! Those are must haves!

            I've had Martin Yan on retainer for years so I can't be of any help to you. I'll ask him to give you a call, though.


            • MBMorgan
              MBMorgan commented
              Editing a comment
              I hear Yan can cook.

            If you want to add Indian food, too, a few more essentials are some Madras curry powder, garam masala, turmeric, coriander powder and some cumin seed (these also kick chili up a notch compared to ground cumin). If you want to get fancy, add some black mustard seeds and some whole cardamom pods.

            And going back to the fact that garlic and ginger should always be around, I also try to make sure I have an extra sweet onion or two around for impromptu stir-frying of anything else that happens to be around.


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