Namikura Kyoto-Style White Miso
Savory, sweet and flavor-dense, white miso is an absolutely essential pantry item. Winey-sweet, buttery and deeply rich, this organic version from Japanese family producer Namikura Miso Co. is more complex and less salty than other brands, which means it can be used more freely with soy sauce without dishes tasting overly seasoned.
BLiS Gourmet Barrel Aged Fish Sauce
This bourbon barrel-aged fish sauce is mellowed by seven months of sitting in oak, so the earthy, meaty funk that one expects from any fermented fish product is beautifully balanced by a complementary sweetness. BLiS's product is also rounded out with soft notes imparted by the seven-month aging process: warming spices, vanilla, and fruit woods, as well as a subtle smoky depth.
Yugeta Double-Brewed Shoyu Soy Sauce
This traditional Japanese shoyu is less salty than supermarket brands yet still full of concentrated flavor and balanced with caramelized sweet notes. It's ideal for dipping and adds robust umami depth to recipes.
Megachef Premium Oyster Flavored Sauce
Megachef Oyster Sauce is made with premium oysters that are harvested off the Gulf of Thailand and smoked over hardwood for a deeper flavor and smoky, grilled aroma. We love its complex yet clean flavor: robust and savory, slightly briny and almost sweet. Although it's prepared by cooking down oysters until their juices caramelize, this sauce does not taste like oysters; rather, it has a molasses-like richness and sweet, savory and umami flavor that's slightly similar to soy sauce. Megachef's version has no added artificial flavors or colors—in contrast, even high-quality brands tend to augment their oyster sauce with ingredients like MSG and caramel coloring, resulting in an artificial taste.
While oyster sauce is mostly used as an ingredient for marinades, stir-fries or flavoring rice or noodle dishes, Megachef's Oyster Sauce is also delicious on its own as a condiment—the sauce's smoother consistency compared to other brands is perfect for dipping or drizzling over dishes.
Namikura Red Miso
Red Miso is stronger, saltier and more assertively flavored than yellow or white miso due to its six-month aging process and has a higher proportion of soybeans for a richer taste. This particularly interesting version has sweet flavors reminiscent of sherry and milk chocolate that are perfect for pairing with red meat and other robust dishes.
Ohsawa Organic Mirin
Mirin, an essential element of Japanese cuisine, is a sweet rice wine with less alcohol and a more pronounced natural sweetness than sake. While many grocery-store brands are actually mostly corn syrup, we love Ohsawa Organic Genuine Mirin because it is the real stuff, made using traditional methods by the Kankyo Brewery since 1862. Subtly sweet, mellow and full of umami, this authentic mirin is made by fermenting sweet rice and sake with a special Japanese rice mold for 60 to 90 days then aging the raw product for a full nine months. This condiment both seasons and sweetens, balancing out the salinity of soy-based dishes and adding a lustrous sheen to all of our favorite Asian dishes. And unlike perishable wine or vermouth, mirin can be stored at room temperature in your pantry. Ohsawa Organic Genuine Mirin will add silky sweetness and umami to all sorts of Asian dishes. Try it in our Chicken Teriyaki Donburi or Soy-Steamed Japanese-Style Rice with Mushrooms and Tofu, both of which use mirin in classic Japanese style as a mellow counterpoint to soy sauce. You can also bring out the sweet notes of the Korean chili paste gochujang in our Gochujang-Glazed Potatoes (Gamja Jorim) or Korean Chicken-Vegetable Soup with Noodles. Mirin adds crucial body to the dressing of our Eventide Green Salad with Nori Vinaigrette; the dressing is also great tossed with cold soba noodles for a quick noodle salad or drizzled over poached salmon or shrimp. You can also use mirin as a base for pan sauces: After browning steaks, chops or chicken broths, deglaze the pan with 2 to 3 tablespoons mirin, simmer down by half, and whisk in butter and herbs to taste. For an all-purpose dipping sauce for noodles or dumplings, make mentsuyu: Simply combine ½ cup each mirin and sake and ¼ cup soy sauce (and if you have either, ½ cup of bonito flakes and 3-inch piece of kombu seaweed). Bring to a simmer, then cool (and strain if adding bonito or knob); it’ll store indefinitely in the refrigerator. This sauce can also be blended with miso and diluted to serve as a soup base or boiled to concentrate into a teriyaki glaze.
Yugeta Organic Yuuki Shoyu Soy Sauce
This Japanese soy sauce has a light-tasting without being too thin or watery, with a rounded, mouth-filling umami flavor and clear, bright salinity that quickly yields to a light, wheaty nuttiness. Its clarity of flavor and clean finish are perfect for delicate foods like chicken and fish, as the shoyu won't overwhelm but rather enhance other flavors in a dish.
Hanamaruki Foods Liquid Shio Koji
A traditional condiment made from fermented malted rice, shio koji is known in Japan for packing a punch of umami into everything from marinated meats to savory soups. All shio kojis aren’t created equal, though, for Hanamaruki Foods distills the powerful flavor properties of this essential Japanese ingredient into an easy-to-use liquid form—the only Liquid Shio Koji available on the market—to create the ultimate pantry secret weapon. We love the condiment’s clean, yet bold flavor: salty rounded out with a pronounced sweetness and burst of umami. It’s made by pressing shio koji in its original paste form and filtering until it yields the clear, golden-hued liquid. The product isn’t heat-treated, so its enzymes remain active and effective in rendering meat remarkably moist and juicy, balancing bitterness in veggies like eggplant and adding amino acids for a full-flavored finish to any dish to truly change the way you cook. Use as a marinade for meats and fish, drizzle into salad dressings and sauces to balance savory flavors, or incorporate into baked goods to add a layer of tantalizing complexity.
Red Boat 40°N Fish Sauce
We love this fish sauce because it is smoother and more complex than other varieties, with a unique nutty quality. To make it, Red Boat ferments wild-caught black anchovies with sea salt for 12 months in wooden barrels, then presses out and bottles the resulting liquid—that's it. All of its flavor comes from the natural aging process, not added sugar like with most commercial fish sauces. Its name is a reference to degrees N: the scale used to measure the amount of nitrogen in fish sauce, which correlates to protein content and thereby flavor. Forty degrees is up to three times the amount of protein of other brands because the company doesn't dilute its product with water, another indicator of Red Boat's superior quality. Though the initial aroma is intense and pungent, the flavor of this fish sauce isn't fishy, but rather a bold and complex hit of umami. Use this fish sauce as a savory complement to aromatic Southeast Asian curry flavors, such as in our Lemon Grass-Coconut Tofu or Singaporean Shrimp and Chicken Noodle Soup (Laksa). It's also a key flavoring for our Thai Fried Rice and adds savory notes to sweet shrimp in our Thai Grapefruit Salad with Shrimp (Som Tom O) and Grilled Skewered Cilantro-Lime Shrimp. You can also make dipping sauces, such as the dressing of our Grilled Cilantro-Lime Skirt Steak inspired by our travels in Cambodia. Or try our Southeast Asian Chicken Salad with Cashews and Coconut or Vietnamese-inspired Caramel-Braised Chicken with Ginger and Lime to add a rich, savory element to chicken.
Namikura Yuzu Miso
This small-batch Yuzu Miso is aged with yuzu zest for three months, so the semi-tart, floral notes of the Japanese citrus permeate and meld with the salty tang of miso. The final product is mellow and smooth in both taste and texture, with an initial bright burst of yuzu and a salty-sweet finish of earthy fermented soybean.
Takuko White Soy Sauce
There is no such thing as just “soy sauce” in Asian cuisine — there are different brews for different purposes. A good example is Japanese white (shiro) soy sauce, which is light amber in color and clearer and thinner than dark soy sauce. Made from coarsely milled roasted wheat that is mixed with steamed soybeans and inoculated with a special type of rice mold called koji, this soy sauce has a subtle flavor that can be used in salad dressings and marinades.
Namikura Sesame Miso
Namikura's Sesame Miso is a mellow miso paste that balances the intense saltiness of fermented soybeans with the nutty, bittersweet flavor of sesame. Black and white sesame seeds, both whole and pureed, are blended into the miso and traditionally fermented for three months, resulting in a mild product that tastes like a perfect balance of miso and tahini.
Yakami Orchard Yuzu Kosho - Red
Yuzu Kosho is a Japanese condiment prepared from fermented yuzu, chilies, kombu and salt. This spicy, briny paste combines chili heat with yuzu, the best-tasting citrus fruit you’ve never heard of that is used broadly in Japanese cooking as an accent note. We like this kosho's fruity, bright red bell pepper aroma and subtle sweetness.
Black Garlic Molasses
This inky black, syrupy “molasses” is made from concentrated black garlic, which is garlic fermented long enough to render the cloves tender, mellow, earthy-sweet and utterly addictive. It's reminiscent of concentrated balsamic vinegar, without the acidic tang.
Jiangsu HengShun 6-Year Zhenjiang Black Vinegar
Ubiquitous Chinese black vinegar is rich, tart and slightly sweet—with a fermented malty taste and woody character that distinguishes it from the light-colored and fruity rice vinegar. This one is crafted by one of the oldest and most well-known producers in the country, who ages the dark liquid for 6 years in traditional urns to achieve its complexity. It’s not too astringent, with a full-bodied character that yields nuanced notes of molasses and something like the brightness of a high-quality bar of dark chocolate, nothing like the other black vinegars we sampled that weren’t given time to age. A pantry staple in Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine, black vinegar contributes a unique flavor to food that (despite what you might read online), can’t be replicated with other dark vinegars like fruity balsamic.
Haku Smoked Shoyu
Haku Smoked Shoyu is a limited-production Japanese soy sauce made with wheat, so it has a sweet, round flavor and can be used in versatile ways. This shoyu is smoked with Mizunara oak, a rare type of Japanese oak also prized for Japanese whiskey. Use it either on its own for dipping or as an ingredient for layering salty, sweet and umami flavor in your dishes.
Suehiro Ponzu Shoyu
Japanese soy sauce brewer Suehiro makes its intense and citrusy Ponzu Shoyu without any added water, so this version of the classic dipping sauce is bursting with a stellar balance of salty, tangy and umami flavors. Traditionally brewed dark soy sauce provides a savory flavor base along with four types of Asian citrus—aromatic yuzu, tart sudachi, bitter orange and mild, sweet yukou—which add a complex tanginess and bright floral-fruity aroma. Mirin, a type of Japanese rice wine, as well as kombu dashi, an umami soup stock, round out the flavor and add body.
Haku Matsutake Shoyu from Japan is made by infusing matsutake mushroom stems into shiro shoyu—a light, subtly sweet variety of soy sauce with a higher wheat content and mellow golden color—so the mushroom flavor really stands out. The resulting shoyu is earthy, balanced and lightly woody, with a strong mushroom flavor.