CHEFS' SECRETS: THE 5 MUST-HAVE PANTRY ITEMS AND HOW TO USE THEM
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1. Fish Sauce
A pungent seasoning that distinguishes the food of Vietnam and much of Thailand.
The Endorsement: Tyson Cole may not cook Southeast Asian, but he uses fish sauce in everything from soups to pickles at Uchiko, his Japanese restaurant in Austin.
2. Sichuan Peppercorns
A Chinese spice common in Sichuan cooking that makes your mouth feel bizarrely, refreshingly cold.
The Endorsement: Bryant Ng of The Spice Table in Los Angeles adds them to a stir-fry's hot oil or grinds them with dried red chilies and cumin to use as a spice rub for lamb.
3. Kecap Manis
A syrupy Indonesian staple that combines the salty pleasure of soy sauce with the deep, almost molasses-like sweetness of palm sugar.
The Endorsement: Beverly Kim of Aria in Chicago drizzles it on fried rice and noodles, adding chili or lime juice to balance the sweetness.
The burgundy-colored condiment—a salty-sweet miracle with the heat of dried chilies and a fermented-soybean tang—that you squeeze over your bibimbap.
The Endorsement: Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of Seattle's Revel use it to impart heat and complexity to a standard barbecue sauce.
5. Yuzu Kosho
A salty, perfume-y paste of fresh chili and the aromatic rind of yuzu, a Japanese citrus.
The Endorsement: Greg Dunmore of San Francisco's Nojo dabs some of the floral, fiery paste on grilled chicken or stirs it into vinaigrettes.