Updated: Jul 20, 2021
(In no particular order)
Fish Sauce (I use Thai Kitchen but they're not the only good brand out there)
Fish sauce is a condiment and a cooking ingredient made from fermented anchovies. It is primarily used in Vietnamese and Thai cooking. It has a strong and pungent smell and is quite a bit salty. I personally use one or two tablespoons at the most for my Thai and Vietnamese recipes. A little bit goes a long way and despite the smell, all of the flavors of Thai curries and soups and Vietnamese dishes don't come together without them.
Chipotles in Adobo Sauce or Minced Canned Chipotles
Chipotles are a type of pepper that is known for its mild to intense heat and loads of flavor. When packaged in adobo sauce, their flavor turns into a wonderfully smoky flavor similar to mesquite barbecue along with their signature heat. Whether you use chipotles in adobo sauce or just used the canned minced chipotles, they both pack a ton of flavor! They are primarily used in Mexican dishes as an essential ingredient for the flavor of sauces, soups, sandwiches, dips, and the possibilities go on. If you want a bit of smoky heat to your dish, why not try these? I personally don't go over 2 or 3 tablespoons of it and for some people that may be too hot. For the people who can't handle much heat but want the flavor, I suggest using 1 tablespoon when you cook with it.
Spice Jungle Seasoning Products
Spice Jungle Seafood Seasoning
This blend pretty much has nearly every spice you would need for any Cajun or seafood dish. I use it to enhance the flavor of shrimp, fish, and the broth needed for dishes like my gumbo, shrimp etouffee, and southern shrimp and beans soup.
2. Spice Jungle Gochugaru
When I was looking for quality and reasonably priced gochugaru to use to make kimchi with, I stumbled across this brand and decided to try it out. I don't live near any international or Asian grocery stores like H-Mart so Amazon has been my place for a lot of Korean and other Asian ingredients. I've been using their gochugaru ever since. Gochugaru are Korean hot pepper flakes and contrary to their description, they're not actually hot compared to most dried versions of peppers. Korean peppers are very, very mildly hot and on the sweet side which makes it easy to find out how hot you want to make your kimchi, Korean stir fries, and Korean soup recipes. Gochugaru is essential for making most popular kinds of kimchi and it is where kimchi's mild heat and red color comes from. It can be used for other Korean dishes or Korean inspired dishes as well like kimchi udon, kimchi ramen, kimchi noodle soup, Korean fried chicken, and kimchi fried.
3. Spice Jungle Garam Masala
Garam Masala is an earthy spice blend usually used for Indian cuisine but not exclusive to Indian cuisine. It is often used along with curry powder to make curries or for seasoning chicken, fish, beef, pork, shrimp, and other seafood. The great thing about Spice Jungle is that the average home cook doesn't have to worry about stocking their pantry with the 10 or more specific spices commonly used to make curry, because Spice Jungle's curry and seasoning blends already have the majority of those spices!
4. Spice Jungle Gumbo File Powder
File Powder is ground up sassafras tree that has a uniquely earthy yet herby flavor that is hard to describe. It is used primarily for making gumbo and it responsible for gumbo's unique flavor profile no matter how many different ways people cook gumbo. File powder is a bit hard to come by in your local grocery store and that is how I found Spice Jungle's.
Thin Rice Noodles and Medium Size Rice Noodles
Rice noodles are noodles made from rice flour and are gluten free. They have a mild and light flavor and probably are the kind of noodles that takes the least time to cook. Rice noodles are primarily used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking in soups, cold noodle salads, and stir fries. One important thing to note is that there are different widths of rice noodles and depending on what you are cooking, one width may be preferred to the other. There are paper thin rice noodles, medium to thick rice noodles, and large and wide rice noodles. Thin rice noodles are great for soups but only by adding the noodles to the serving bowls before the broth, or else the noodles will literally melt from being so thin. Medium width noodles like the ones used to make Vietnamese pho can sit in soup broth just fine and are sturdy enough for stir fries but only after the seasonings, veggies, and meat are done cooking. Both thin and thicker rice noodles can be used for stir fries but they can fall apart from high heat during cooking so it is advised to add the noodles to the rest of your dish last. Unlike with soy sauce and sesame oils, its not necessary to find the "best" rice noodle brand before cooking. Thai Kitchen is one of the popular brands that is easiest to get your hands on that is also sold at local grocery stores. If you want more options than the local grocery stores like Giant, Safeway, and Food Lion, international grocery stores and Asian grocery stores have a huge selection of rice noodles, fish sauces, oyster sauces, quality soy sauces, and sesame oils.
Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce
In my experience, this brand is the best oyster sauce that I've tasted and it is used primarily for seasoning Chinese dishes and sauces. There are many brands that sell oyster sauce but they are not created equal. Oyster sauce similar to the process of creating fish sauce, is made from extracting the flavor from oysters and combining it with salt, sugar, water, and cornstarch. The flavor is the definition of umami; multiple tastes coming together in harmony while being able to taste each component. Oyster sauce is simultaneously salty, sweet, and savory with a unique depth of flavor that it absolutely essential to Chinese cooking. You can find it from Amazon, H-Mart, international grocery stores, and Asian grocery stores.
Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Chili Oil, and Peanut Oil
All of these ingredients are essential for Chinese and Japanese cuisine from sauces, soups, to stir fries. Soy sauce brand is up to personal preference and I personally hate Kikkoman's soy sauce. It tastes like beer so I prefer the more mildly flavored soy sauces out there like Food Lion's brand. Some people can be picky with sesame oil brands because like oyster sauce, they brand's flavors are NOT created equal and some taste horrible. I would recommend Kadoya Sesame Oil as one of the best sesame oil brands. Chili oil is a oil whose purpose is just to add some spice and heat to a dish. You don't need more than 1 tablespoon of it and its subtle but can be intense if you use a lot of it. I use Thai Kitchen's Chili Oil. I personally don't use peanut oil much but its a great ingredient to use for dishes that rely on the flavor of peanuts like pad Thai, sesame noodles, and African peanut stew.
Shaoxing or Chinese Cooking Wine
This condiment is NOT for alcohol consumption and is used purely for Chinese cooking specifically for making sauces and some stir fries. It can be found at Asian grocery stores and Amazon. Probably is best to research the best brands before buying one and it keeps once its opened in the refrigerator for a long time.
Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chili Crisps
This bottle of indescribable goodness is the perfect addition to any Asian stir fry and packs a punch full of flavor and texture. Its a spicy blend of red crushed pepper, soy beans, and peanuts bottled together in chili oil. The heat, slight crunch, and saltiness it adds to stir fry sauces, vegetable stir fries, and noodles dishes is unmatched. You can find it and other seasonings by the Lao Gan Ma brand at Asian grocery stores and on Amazon.
Savory Spice Shop Products
Savory Spice Shop is a store both online and in person that sells their own large variety of spices, spice blends, sauces, rubs, snacks, etc. One of my close friends sent me a few of their products as a Christmas present and I've been in love with how much flavor their spice blends have. The best part of this company's products is that their spice blends, especially their curry powders already have 90% of the spices you need to make any curry delicious already in the spice blends. As a home cook, you don't have to go out of your way to find all the spices that may or may not be at your local grocery store to make a great curry. Its so convenient and their curry powder blends are absolutely delicious! You can check out their website to try their products for yourself at www.savoryspiceshop.com.
Savory Spice Vietnamese Sweet Lemon Curry Powder
This curry powder was a present from a friend and as someone who loves to cook with lemon, I was pleasantly surprised and excited to get into a curry that was peppery, mildly lemony, and mildly sweet. I love to use this curry powder to make my own Vietnamese inspired curry with rice noodles and vegetables. This curry is a reminder that there is a curry for any mood or flavor mood.
2. Savory Spice Medium Yellow Curry Powder
This curry powder is THE perfect curry powder for making an Indian curry or Indian inspired curry whether you want to make a vegetarian curry or one with meat. I also like to experiment with adding this curry powder to non-Indian soups and sauces. In addition to curries, the curry powder is great just for seasoning chicken, shrimp, beef, and pork. It is also my top choice of curry powder to use for making Singapore noodles.
3. Savory Spice Vindaloo
This spice blend has a lot spices similar to curry but with more paprika and pepper in it. It also has more heat to it than the other Savory Spice powders that I use so its great for a spicy potato curry or for making daal.
Miso paste and Dashi
Miso paste and dashi are two of the absolute essential ingredients used mainly for Japanese cooking. Miso paste is fermented soybean paste that is packed with lots of antioxidants and protein that is often used in miso soup, as a sauce, or a condiment. There are many different kinds of miso which have a range of flavors from mildly sweet to salty and/or more intense the longer is been fermented. Dashi is Japanese soup stock made from boiled bonito flakes that come from skipjack tuna and kelp. Dashi can be made from scratch with bonito flakes and kelp or with an instant blend that you can get from Asian grocery stores or Amazon. Dashi has a deep simultaneously salty and somewhat sweet flavor that adds depth to both vegetarian and meat packed soups and stews as well as being used as a condiment in other Japanese dishes.
Common Herbs, Spices, and Condiments Needed for Any Genre of Cooking
(I mostly use dried spices since I don't like to keep up with the short shelf life of fresh ones)
-old bay seasoning
-ground cinnamon/ cinnamon sticks
-bouillon cubes (beef or chicken)
-McCormick Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning
-butter or margarine
-brown sugar (dark or light)
-Lawry's Garlic Salt with Parsley
-red crushed pepper