Eat Drink Better

Published on September 15th, 2010 | by Rachel Shulman


Asian Ingredients for the Vegan Kitchen

eating vegan

Asian cuisines like Thai, Indian, Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, and Japanese lend themselves very naturally to vegan cooking. After all, vegan protein sources like tofu and tempeh are mainstays of Asian food, and many Asian cuisines are traditionally dairy-free or vegetarian.

To incorporate Asian flavors into your everyday eating, you need a well-stocked pantry. Here are some of my favorite pantry ingredients for cooking delicious, Asian-inspired vegan meals.

1) Sea greens (aka sea vegetables or seaweed) – Incredibly nutrient-dense and flavorful. Try throwing them in stir-fries, salads, and soups.

2) Coconut milk– Rich and creamy. Delicious in curries, rice dishes, and desserts.

3) Coconut oil – A staple in the tropical world. Great for frying and delicious in baked goods.

4) Miso – A traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soy. Great in soups, salad dressings, and sauces.

5) Tamari – Similar to soy sauce but thicker and darker. Imparts saltiness and umami to vegan dishes like these mushroom pecan burgers.

6) Preserved beans (aka fermented black beans) – A traditional Chinese seasoning. Try mashing with garlic and ginger for a delicious marinade or use as a base for a rich, spicy, black bean sauce.

7) Chile bean paste – Try adding this Sichuan-style seasoning to eggplant stir-fries or fried tofu.

The best places to find these pantry staples are Asian markets, natural food stores, or on the web.

Image courtesy Amber Karnes of via a Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

I'm an ecologist turned journalist turned farmer-in-training. I'm currently working on an organic farm and creamery in Illinois. Follow me on twitter (, friend me on Facebook (!/profile.php?id=3105709), or follow me on StumbleUpon (

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