Last Updated on June 13, 2024

I gonna share with you the magic ingredients for my cooking at home. These sauces are bomb-proof and always give me the best cooking results. Honestly, I can’t live without them in my life.

Having these basic sauces in my kitchen gives me the confidence to create scrumptious meals. Let’s have a look at who these VIPs are!

Light Soy Sauce

The magic ingredients in my vegan cooking

In most of my recipes, you’d often see ” light soy sauce” in the recipe cards. Yes, this’s because it’s a key ingredient in Asian cuisines.

Light soy sauce (7.2% sodium)- is light in color, almost a see-through reddish-brown, and thin in viscosity. It’s salty and delightful, which is essential to Chinese and Asian cooking in general. The color comes from a longer fermentation of the soybean and there’s a very mild sweetness to it as well.

It is extremely versatile in all sorts of cooking and also widely used in cold appetizers, stir-fry dishes, soups, stews, dipping sauces, and marinades. We often pair it up with dark soy sauce, to add a darker color to the dish.

For light soy sauce, my favorite brands are LEE KUM KEE( also known as L.K.K. ) and Pearl River Bridge. (Lee KUM KEE also has a Gluten-Free option, but unfortunately, it hasn’t been sold on Amazon at the moment.)

I used this light soy sauce in my The Best Easy Vegan Ramen, The Best Asian Slaw with Cashews, and Avocado Mung Bean Jelly Noodle Salad.

I would highly recommend getting these two brands. They’re the best I’ve tried by far. They subtly enhance the flavor of your dish without overpowering it.

Dark Soy Sauce

The magic ingredients in my vegan cooking

Dark Soy Sauce– is much more intense in flavor and saltiness, giving your dishes a lovely dark color. It’s also slightly thicker than light soy sauce, so it clings to food better, making it perfect as a drizzle over stews or as an ingredient in stir-fry dishes.

I also used these dark soy sauces in my Tofu noodle salad and Yaki Udon- Stir-fried Udon Noodles With Vegetables

Vegan Oyster Sauce

The magic ingredients in my vegan cooking1

Don’t be fooled by the name ” oyster sauce.” Vegetarian oyster sauce is made for vegans and vegetarians, so there are no oysters in it.

Despite the fact it is made with different types of mushrooms, it’s similar in terms of color and texture to regular oyster sauce. … They are similar in color( they’re dark brown), taste, and consistency, however, the consistency of the vegetarian version is a little thinner.

It also boasts an umami flavor, which is a savory, tangy flavor. It’s commonly used in Asian cuisines, including Chinese and Southeast Asian dishes, for stir-fries and dipping sauces. Oyster sauce’s flavor is somewhere between fish sauce and soy sauce.

I used this vegan oyster sauce in my Garlic Chives Gyoza, Taiwanese Cabbage Stew, Vegan Pho, Chinese Eggplant Stir Fry, Vegan Pad See Ew, and Singapore Noodles.

P.S. You might feel confused about the word ” Vegetarian” on the labels here. They don’t contain any forms of animal products in them.

The definition of Vegan in Asian countries is slightly different. For religious reasons, aside from alcohol, some Buddhists avoid consuming strong-smelling plants, specifically garlic, onion, chives, leeks, shallots, and some spices, as these vegetables are thought to increase sexual desire when eaten cooked and anger when eaten raw.

I don’t recommend Wan Ja Shan vegan oyster sauce (as in the picture below ) for cooking in general, because this product is very salty.

wan ja shan brand
I personally don’t recommend this brand as it’s very very salt.

LEE KUM KEE and Ayam both are my favorite vegan oyster sauces, and I only use these two brands for my recipes.

Black Vinegar

The magic ingredients in my vegan cooking1
Sorry, the right-hand side is nearly empty>”<

It’s not a very common ingredient in the Western world. Black vinegar is far more than just a blade of acid. With hints of licorice and malt held together by a distinct umami earthiness that permeates the whole condiment, it’s transformative, providing both acidity and complexity to round out a dish.

I use this black vinegar in my Chinese Cucumber Salad, Garlic Chili Noodles, Avocado Mung Bean Noodle Salad, and Yaki Udon.

In Taiwan, Taiwanese black vinegar is used to flavor thick soup( ex. hot and sour soup), or stir-fried noodles. Black vinegar gives the dishes a touch of acidity and umami richness.

I often got a lot of people asking me what substitutes can they use for replacing black vinegar, I always answered you can use balsamic vinegar or vegan Worcestershire sauce. But the truth is, these substitutes will never give you the best result.

My favorite brand is KONG YEN Black Vinegar, maybe it’s because this is the black vinegar I watched my mom and grandma use when I grew up. This Taiwanese vinegar has an excellent flavor profile and tastes great compared to other brands. I would highly recommend getting this brand.

Chinese Cooking Wine( Shaoxing Rice Wine)

The magic ingredients in my vegan cooking1

Shaoxing Rice Wine 紹興料理酒 (as known as Shaoxing Wine) is a type of rice wine for cooking essential in most Chinese cooking. It’s a secret ingredient that makes recipes truly taste like what you get at Chinese restaurants.

The most obvious answer is that it makes dishes taste delicious. Its alcohol content is below 15% and rich in amino acids.

The effect of cooking wine is to increase the tasty smell of food. It’s a kind of seasoning, not a beverage. I used Chinese cooking wine in my Sautéed Green Beans and Potatoes and King Oyster Mushroom Stir Fry.

Vegan Fish Sauce

The magic ingredients in my vegan cooking1

What’s Vegan Fish Sauce made from?

The common ingredients in most Vegan fish sauces on the market are shredded seaweed, water, garlic, liquid aminos, mushrooms, soy sauce, and miso paste.

These ingredients bring out the natural “umami” flavor which makes this Vegan version of fish sauce taste just like the ones made from salted anchovies. I highly recommend you have Vegan fish sauce in your pantry.

This sauce is the key to making your Southeast Asian dishes from homemade to PRO level! (especially for Thai curries and Vietnamese cuisines) Also btw, they are very cheap and you don’t need to use them much every time ( they’re very salty! ) one bottle can last you for a year or two!

I used vegan fish sauce in my Seaweed and Tofu Soup, Vegan Thai Basil Stir Fry, Lemongrass Coconut Pumpkin Soup, and The Best Mild Thai Green Curry.

Sha Cha Sauce

What is Sha Cha Sauce?

Vegan sha cha sauce

Vegetarian Taiwanese Barbeque Shacha Sauce is a delicious, vegetarian barbeque sauce. The pictures above are my favorite brands from Taiwan (AGV and Bull Head, they can easily be found at Asian supermarkets or you can buy them online).

Barbeque sauce can be used in many dishes to enhance the flavor. It has a savory, very subtle spicy flavor. Shacha sauce is a very popular condiment used in Taiwanese cuisine. We use Sha Cha sauce a lot in stir-fries, hotpot dipping sauce, soup…etc.

What does it taste like? It has an intensely savory, mildly seafood-y flavor. The name 沙茶醬 in Chinese means “sand tea sauce.” Unsure how it got this name, however, it is usually described in English as, “Chinese BBQ sauce.” But it has nothing that tastes similar to BBQ sauce.

It can last for months in the refrigerator in its sealed container. Just make sure you always use a clean utensil before scooping it out from the jar.

I used this sauce in my Sha Cha Glass Noodles.

Vegan Mayo

The magic ingredients in my vegan cooking1

The flavor of vegan mayo is much lighter than regular mayo, and the texture is pleasantly smooth and airy, and much less goopy than regular mayo. Most people can’t tell the difference between vegan mayo and regular mayo.

I’m a huge fan of The Goods (an Australian brand) and Hellman’s. They’re super creamy and have a lovely flavor. They taste as good as regular mayo. I use vegan mayo for my Vegan BBQ Pulled Jackfruit BurgersQuick n Easy Vegan Burgers, and Vegan BLT

Hope you like this article about the magic ingredients in my kitchen pantry, and inspire you to make some delicious Asian fusion dishes! Leave me comments below to let me know what other ingredients you’d like to know about more.

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