What’s in My Pantry?

Pantries are meant to be cleaned out occasionally. Old, stale ingredients have to go, some items need to be used before they expire and some staple items just need to be replaced.

I thought some of you might be interested in a few of the ingredients I keep in my pantry (this doesn’t include things I’ve already tossed or have stashed in A’s pantry…).

I keep commonly used spices in magnetic tins on my refrigerator, so their easily at hand when I’m working at my cutting board.


Dried chilies are always handy to have around (ancho – these smell sweet – like prunes).






Chili de arbol – I buy huge bags of these – I use them in Chinese dishes and for infusing alcohols.


Dried tangerine peel, rice flour, and an old coffee grinder I use for spices.


Corn husks – tamales.


Dried shrimp – critical ingredient in lots of Asian recipes (cha chiang mein, etc.)


Flor de jamaica – dried hibiscus flowers. Makes a slightly sour, refreshing cold drink. Tastes a little like grape juice.


Kombu – dried kelp – critical for making dashi (stock).


Nori – roasted seaweed sheets. Use it for rolling sushi, julienne as a garnish. I’ll sometimes add it to noodle soups for a little extra flavor.

Panko – Japanese bread crumbs.


Kripik/Bánh Phồng Tôm – prawn crackers – fry them in hot oil and they instantly puff up to a chicharron/Cheeto texture. Delicious.


Rice paper – Used for wrapping gỏi cuốn (fresh Vietnamese spring rolls). Dip them into warm water and they become pliable. This is an art form – not long enough in the water and they crack; too long and they become a sheet of glue.


Xianggu – Dried shiitake mushrooms. One of the more expensive ingredients in my kitchen. I buy large quantities and keep them sealed in airtight bags in the dark. Very fragrant (xianggu literally means “fragrant mushroom”).


Bean threads (vermicelli) – can be used in spring rolls, soups, etc.


Bun Pho – a wide, flat rice noodle.


Bun Than Tai – another variant of rice vermicelli – this one’s a little thicker.


Candlenuts – used for thickening curry pastes (don’t eat them raw…).


Corn Starch – essential for velveting meats and thickening sauces in Chinese cooking,


Red Curry Paste & Hon-Dashi – Basically, cheating. Sometimes you don’t have the time or energy to make a curry paste or dashi stock from scratch. That’s where these come in.


Fish Sauce (Three Crabs – fishy. Squid Brand – Fishier). Chipotle sauce (great on fried chicken).  Chinese spiced michiu, hot chili oil, Mei Gui Liu Jiu (rose scented wine), molasses.


Franks – I like chicken wings.


 Fried Shallots (used as a garnish), Pineapple Juice (for al pastor marinade), Tomato Paste (Italian food is ethnic too).


Coconut Milk (not my preferred brand), Guilinggao (black, herbal jelly – this one does not contain turtle shell).


Aji Amarillo & Huacatay – Essential Peruvian ingredients.


Lard – people feel better about things when you tell them it’s fried in manteca.


Pandan extract, Lime pastes (for making slaked lime – helps keep vegetables crispy), Gapi (fermented shrimp paste – used in some Thai curry pastes).


Sesame oil, Shaoxing michiu (cooking wine), Sichuan chili, Worcestershire, Oyster sauce, Sriracha.


Palm Sugar.


Gelatine, Baker’s Chocolate, Lindt, Brown Sugar, Confectioner’s Sugar, Light Brown Sugar.


Honey, Crystalized Ginger, Balinese Salt, Wasabi powder, Pecan Smoked Salt, Sal Grosso (fat salt), Pink Salt (Prague Powder #1: 93.75% sodium chloride, 6.25% sodium nitrite).


Sesame Paste.


Annato Seed (achiote), Sichuan Peppercorns, Dessicated Coconut, Gula Jawa (palm sugar), Piloncillo (whole cane sugar), Maltose.


Light Soy Sauce (again, I buy in quantity…), Mushroom Soy, Usukuchi Soy (very salty). Kecap Manis (sweet soy – not at home).



Chili Powder, Pork Sung (dried pork floss), Roasted Rice Powder (important for Thai salads), Rendang seasoning (cheating), Madras Curry Powder, Old Bay, Sazon Completa.


 Tianjin Preserved Vegetable. (Used in Sichuan dishes).


Mexican Vainilla. (Everyone says it’s crap, but it’s what I’ve got…). 


Mojo Criollo, Rice wine, white vinegar, Chinkiang Black Rice vinegar, Apple Cider vinegar, Rice Wine vinegar, Red Wine vinegar, Balsamic vinegar.


 Wet Tamarind (used for making tamarind paste & tamarind water).


 Nutmeg, Pickling Spice, Tandoori Masala, Red Tandoori Masala, Pink Peppercorns, Butter Bell, Baking Powder.


Pickled Sweet Peppers, Capers, Roses Lime Juice, Oyster Sauce, Chili Dofu Ru, Dofu Ru. 


Israeli couscous, orzo, pearl barley, basmati rice, rolled oats.


Sichuan mala sauce (broadbeans, Sichuan peppercorns, garlic, etc.), gochujang, ssamjang, konnyaku, coffee-gastrique barbecue sauce, homemade sriracha, macapuno (gelatinous mutant coconut).

Questions? Want to share what’s important in your pantry? Comment below!


  1. My favorite snack these days is a plate of kimchi, lime pickle and habanero whole garlic. My wife runs away when she see this.

  2. I love dofu ru – one of my favorite Chinese ingredients. On the other hand, I can’t stand cho dofu (stinky tofu). Smells like turkey crap (literally).

  3. Just found your blog today and enjoyed looking through your posts. We live up in North Carolina, and we’ve never been to Atlanta, but our pantry looks a lot like yours (with a few exceptions here and there). We’re hoping to visit Atlanta soon, and we definitely plan to try a few of the places you recommended along the Buford Highway. Can you recommend a good Asian restaurant supply that sells woks, burners, etc? We have several, but I can’t resist looking at other options when we visit a large city where they are available.

  4. Southeast Fixtures (across from Chinatown), Tongnan Fa (around the corner from Chinatown on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road) and the Buford Highway Farmers Market are all good.

  5. “Lard – people feel better about things when you tell them it’s fried in manteca.”

    I say the same when it comes to Aji-No-Moto 😉

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