Basic Asian stuff for an American pantry?

Joined Dec 20, 2008
I have experienced this several times, but didn't relate it to the how fast the "dish" went from wok to the dining table. I say several times, because sadly even some reported good Asian or Chinese restaurants fail at this.

This thread has been most helpful, especially the lesson on cooking with a wok. Now I understand the reason for giant woks in professional Asian kitchens.

Decades ago when in college 4 guys sharing an apartment, each week one of us had the cooking duty. I had a chinese cook book I bought in Hong Kong (in english), for quick and easy Chinese Cooking. So I decided to cook the suggested menus listed in the book about 6 or 7 different ones. This was before there was well stocked Asian sections in the grocery stores. I purchase a cheap wok and ring for the gas burner, each week would buy all the ingredients and on day one make the stocks and sauces required for the 3 or 4 meals (usually 3 or 4 dishes) we would have that week. I even did some parties for 12 to 15 mostly girls :) (Inviting girls to a dinner party was easiest way to meet girls) as I recall 8 to 10 different dishes. It was a ton of work, but really was my first experience of embracing cooking challenges and trying to give someone else a little joy and comfort through food. I have no idea were the wok ended up, but the heavy duty alum. ring I use often on my bbq to elevate a rack of food off the direct heat to let finish, as for the cook book, its around somewhere but haven't seen it in years. (BTW one of those girls that came to my Chinese dinner party, has been my wife for over 30 years.)

Everyone thanks for such great info.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
I checked the Super China Market today to refresh my memory of what vegetarian Oyster Sauce I used. I didn't see the bottle I remembered. Saw a number of other ones though. Kim Lan, and Dragonfly stick out as trustworthy brands in my memory but they weren't the one I liked best.

Lee Kum Kee has a "Vegetarian Stiry Fry sauce" that is about the same thing as much of the vegetarian oyster sauces and easy to find. While common, it wasn't as good as other choices.

Google images didn't help either.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Awww Deltadude...that is romantic :) the way to anyone's heart is through their stomach. I keep encouraging my teen son to learn to cook for this reason (ok plus simple survival). He's not doing too badly.

Oriental cooking as BDL says is mostly in the mise en place. You don't start till it's all there, in easy reach in front of you. Hot hot wok. It can be essentially a one pot wonder. If you have all your cooked rice/noodles, oil, spices, veg and meat and sauces there, although that can seem to take a while, the cooking takes so little time. But you need everyone seated or at least ready to eat before you start.

Wok hei is best enjoyed if you are doing the cooking yourself. You get all of it, plus the joy of the meal, and sharing it with family/friends.

Ish - I agree totally. Same language, different understanding. But classing far east asian as just, no, no :) So many different cuisines. Would be boring if we were all the same. No room for debate otherwise!
Joined May 8, 2009
May I reiterate that the quality of the products used is very important?
There are good and bad oyster sauces, fish sauces, soy sauces... etc.
I don't think the subject should be panned over.

BTW, I use a wok on an electric burner. The wok I own is too deep and not wide enough: great for tempura, but not so much for "stir fry". Keep that in mind when buying a wok.
Also, the "flat bottom" woks don't distribute heat evenly up the sides IMHO (I've owned a couple). Almost like using a saute pan... BUT, I still stand by my idea that one CAN create "authentic" stir-fry at home, without a wok, if you understand the technique and ...
aww forget it.
Joined Aug 25, 2009
Yes Left4bread, you are right,

To "wok" or not to "wok" that is the question ?!

Anyone can saute vegetables without a wok, the OP was asking about things one might want to "have on hand in the pantry". .....
Joined May 8, 2009
yup, I guess I said my piece in my first response: should have just left it at that, but I saw some responses that where talking about technique and whatnot. was just trying to contribute to the conversation.
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