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Popular Oriental spices list for cooking Asian meals
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A list of most popular and commonly used Oriental spices that you can use to cook delicious Pan Asian meals at home. 

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When you think of Asian Food the popular meals that come to your mind are flavouful bowls of stir fries, noodles, rice, dumplings, soups, coconut milk based curries and the list goes on.

Pan Asian cuisine such as Chinese, Japanese, Thai , Vietnamese, Indonesian,  Korean are known for its distinctive use of umami taste and the balanced bold flavours.

Apart from the heavy use of sauces such as soya sauce, fish sauce, mirin etc Asian seasonings give the cuisine an irresistible taste.

Asian spice blends are known for their aromatic flavours that is delicately and cleverly balanced with other savory, sweet, hot and sour tastes.

What are Oriental Spices?

The most popular Asian food spices typically used in Pan Asian cuisine are cassia bark which is a different type of cinnamon , star anise, peppercorn, coriander, cloves, cumin, galangal, garlic, ginger, turmeric, lemongrass and chillies.

Dishes such as soups, noodles, stir-fries normally do not involve using spices but the dishes that use Asian seasonings have a very different taste. This could be due to the use of typical Asian ingredients such as vegetables, sauces and a particular cooking style.

Like Indian cuisine, the use of Asian spices in the whole form is more prevalent then the ground spices.

Asian spices list

List of Common Asian Herbs and Spices

Below are a list of 6 different types of Asian seasonings that are pre-blended making it convenient for you to cook a variety of Oriental dishes at home.

Chinese Five-Spice

Chinese five spice
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What is it?

A must have Chinese spice blend in all Chinese pantry. As the name suggests it’s typically made of 5 spices but different variations of the spice can be found today. It is an aromatic spice as opposed to spicy.

What Regions Does it Belong To?

China and Taiwan

How Does It Taste?

Although based on the principle of combining the 5 different tastes i.e. sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and salty, its overriding taste is warm and slightly sweet.

Uses In Cooking

  • Popularly used as a good seasoning for pork dishes, but can be used to make chicken and other meat and seafood dishes too.
  • Used as a dry rub for grilling, pan frying even steaming. 
  • You can also add it to a sauce to give it an oriental flavour. 
  • Also popularly used for making stir-fries and curries.

What is in Chinese Five spice?

Fennel, Sichuan peppercorns, Star anise, Cloves and cinnamon

Bulgogi Spice

bulgogi seasoning
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What is it ?

Bulgogi literally means “fire meat”, used as a seasoning to marinate beef . A very intense non spicy spice mix used to give deep falvour to meats and sauces.

What Regions Does it Belong To?

Korea

How Does It Taste?

Savoury, sweet, pungent and nutty

Uses In Cooking

  • Typically used to make beef based dishes either for BBQ’s, grill.
  • Use a teaspoon or two in stir-fries or sauces. 
  • Rub onto chicken, pork, steak, or tofu before cooking. 

What is in Bulgogi Spice ?

Korean Chile, Brown Sugar, Black Sesame, Onion, Ginger, Bell Pepper, Garlic, Chives, and Lemon Rind and pieces

Furikake

Furikake seasoning
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What is it ?

A classic Japanese spice blend used as a seasoning to zing up many of your dishes. “Furikake” means to “sprinkle”, which is exactly what you do with this flavour popular Asian spice mix . Its like the salt and peeper of Japenese cuisine.

What Regions Does it Belong To?

Japan

How Does It Taste?

Umami, salty and savoury with a nutty texture.

Uses In Cooking

  • Very commonly used as a seasoning for many Japenese dishes especially rice and noodles.
  • It can also be used to sprinkle over eggs, boiled or steamed vegetables, french fries, popcorn, salad and soups for added flavour.

What is in Furikake Spice Mix ?

Toasted white & black sesame seeds, Sea salt, Tellicherry black peppercorns, Nori seaweed

Togarashi

Shichimi Togarashi
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What is it?

Another Japanese dining table condiment used much in the same way as salt and pepper. A must have Japanese spice blend it is used to spruce up meals just by adding a sprinkle.

What Regions Does it Belong To?

Japan

How Does It Taste?

Umami, salty and savoury with a zingy nutty flavour.

Uses In Cooking

  • It is used to spice up noodles (udon, ramen, soba), soups, fish, prawns, sushi.
  • Sprinkle on salads or rice.
  • Use it as a seasoning to sprinkle on top of tempuras, grilled fish or meat.
  • Add it to cooked stews and soups to enhance the umami taste.

What is in Tagarashi spice ?

Toasted white & black sesame seeds, Sea salt, Peppercorn,Orange rind,  Nori seaweed, Garlic, Ginger

Thai 7 Spice

Thai seven Spice
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What is it?

Bring in the Thai flavours into your food captured in a jar. As the name suggests it’s a mix of 7 spices with varying and balancing the different tastes of salty, sour, spicy, and sweet. Aromatic and flavoursome made with some of the most popular Asian spices for creating those fragrant Thai dishes at home.

What Regions Does it Belong To?

Thailand

How Does It Taste?

Sweet savoury with sour undertones

Uses In Cooking

  • Add Thai 7 spice powder to stir-fries, curries and sauces.
  • You can also use the spice to make dry rubs for fish, meat and chicken.

What is in Thai 7 Spice Blend?

Chilli Powder, Lime Leaves, Dried Garlic, Ground Coriander Seed, Ginger powder, Lemon peel, Star Anise

Vietnamese Pho

Vietnamese pho
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What is it

Pho is one of the most known Vietnamese dishes also popular as street food! “Pho”, means steaming flavourful broth. This blend of spices gives pho, a Vietnamese noodle soup, that distinctive Asian flavour.

What Regions Does it Belong To?

Vietnam

How Does It Taste?

Aromatic, warming and sweet

Uses In Cooking

  • Makes great tasting and aromatic broth for soups and stews.
  • Can also be added to make Vietnamese curries.
  • Crumble the cubes and add to rice and noodles dishes.

What is in Vietnamese Pho ?

Star anise, cinnamon, cardamon, clove, coriander seeds and fennel seeds

Panang /Penang Curry Spice Blend

penang curry paste
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What is it?

Drawing inspiration from the complex flavours of Thai cuisine, this spice blend is the easy way to add Southeastern flavours to your curry dishes without the need to look for pastes.

What Regions Does it Belong To?

Thai,  Malaysia

How Does It Taste?

Aromatic, spicy, hot with a hint of sweetness.

Uses In Cooking

  • Add a teaspoon of the curry powder to coconut milk for an authentic Panang curry sauce base for chicken, shellfish, beef or pork.
  • Can also be used for making soups, stews and broth.
  • Sprinkle a teaspoon for making stir-fries or noodles.

What is in Panang /Penang Curry Spice Blend ?

Galangal, Lemon Grass, White Pepper, Cilantro, Coriander, Cumin, Cayenne, Onion, Garlic, Ginger

Infographic On List Of Asian Spices

Below is a recap of the list of Oriental spices that you can choose to cook a variety of Pan Asian meals and bring Asian flavours home.

Oriental spice list infographic

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Eli Richardson
11 months ago

It’s amazing that you talked about oriental spices and how they’re used in Asian dishes. Recently, my wife and I became interested in Asian cuisine and its different flavors. We want to dine at a true Asian restaurant and try different dishes, so we’ll be sure to look into it. Thanks for the information on Asian spices and where they come from.

Leslie
1 year ago

I loved reading this. Very informational and helpful guide to Asian spices. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

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