Asian spices and seasonings are a multi-faceted part of our World Flavors category. World Flavors? More like World of Flavors! While many think of hot chiles as a key ingredient, the true essence of Asian flavors is balance. You can’t just have spicy, there have to be aromatic ingredients and bright flavors to add full depth and dimension to each dish.
What is considered Asian seasoning?
Let’s start with a quick geography refresher. Asia is the largest continent. In fact, the Asian continent is so expansive that we’ve broken it up a bit. We have given the Indian subcontinent their own section, as there is a marked difference in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent and east Asia.
Similar to the varied regional cuisines of the United States, each part of Asia has different primary seasonings and unique flavors.
Chinese Five Spice – A cornerstone of many Chinese recipes, Chinese Five Spice is based around the idea that five essential components should be in balance for the ultimate flavor: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and savory. The balance of flavor in these Chinese spices makes it uniquely suited for use in both savory and sweet dishes (yes, you can even try it in cupcakes).
Shichimi Togarashi - Shichimi Togarashi is a traditional seasoning from Japan that translates to "seven flavor chili.” While it does contain chile peppers, it’s also nutty from sesame seeds, earthy and fresh from dried seaweed, and bright from citrus and ginger. This essential Asian spice is a good all-purpose type seasoning for use on noodle dishes, veggies, and more.
Curry – While you might associate curry with Indian dishes, it’s also prevalent in Southeast Asian cuisine. We have created a few different curries that draw on local ingredients and flavors to set them apart. Cambodian Lemongrass Curry incorporates the grassy, bright flavor notes of lemongrass while Vietnamese Sweet Lemon Curry adds sugar, which is common in many Vietnamese dishes.
Our Thai curries are hotter as they both incorporate a few different types of chiles. The Red Thai Curry also has sweet notes from paprika, while the Thai Green Curry has citrusy brightness from lemongrass and Makrut lime leaves.
What are the main Asian spices?
While each of our Asian seasonings are unique and they are all very different, there are some common ingredients that are key for creating authentic Asian flavors. Many of them you probably already have in your pantry – garlic, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, and (yes) chiles. Others, like Star Anise and Szechwan Peppercorns are less common.
Recipes with Asian Spices
We have a bunch of tasty Asian spice recipes for these seasonings. We can’t list them all here but we do have recipes featured on each spice's web page, so we encourage you to explore!
Sweet Ginger Pork Dumplings
These flavorful, steamed dumpling bites are filled with a traditional blend of pork and cabbage. To add even more depth and dimension, serve with a Citrus Soy Sauce, created in the spirit of a Japanese ponzu with a hint of heat from Shichimi Togarashi.
Chinese Five Spice Pecans
These are great for snacks, to add to a cheese platter, scattered over a salad or as a topping for desserts like pumpkin pie or cheesecake. Make a double batch and give as gifts or bring to a housewarming with a bottle of wine.
7 Spice Kung Pao Chicken
You might think twice about ordering out for Chinese when you see how easy and delicious this weeknight meal is to make. Serve with rice or noodles. To add more flavor to the rice or noodles, remove the final Kung Pao chicken mixture from the liquid and set aside. Stir the rice or noodles into the remaining sauce. Serve separately. For added heat, serve with a side of sambal oelek or sriracha.
Cambodian Lemongrass Meatballs
We suggest serving these sweet, glazed meatballs over coconut rice or noodles. We can't describe them better than Cassandra did after making them.
I made a double recipe, it's phenomenal! I plan to make in large batches and freeze some for camping or busy weeks. I have made this recipe several times, some exactly according to recipe and other times with various substitutions...I've used the Cambodian Lemongrass Curry and also Vietnamese Sweet Lemon Curry, ground chicken instead of pork, almond flour instead of bread crumbs, agave nectar instead of honey. Love this recipe!
Grilled Thai Beef Salad
We love a good Thai beef salad. This one is spicy and refreshing at the same time. The marinated flank steak also makes excellent sandwiches (slice thin, serve on French baguette with green onions, cilantro, pickled Daikon radishes and real mayo).
Thai Green Chicken Curry
This refreshing and not-too-spicy chicken curry recipe is quicker and tastier than takeout! Our Thai Green Curry adds citrusy heat to a creamy coconut milk sauce that coats each bite. Leave out the chicken or swap it for tofu for a vegan or vegetarian version.
For even more Asian flavors, check out these World Flavors or leave a comment with your favorite Asian recipes and dishes!