6 sour pantry staples for Asian cooking

By TASTE, 6 July 2016

Vinegar, tamarind, citrus and pickles are the lip-puckering components that balance spice and sweetness in a dish, which is why the sourness of a squeeze of lime or a dollop of yoghurt is the perfect way to balance a Thai or Indian curry.


The subtle lemony, slightly sweet, flavour and fragrance of this spring onion-like stalk is an essential ingredient in Thai food. Use it whole, sliced or pounded to a paste to release its flavour.
Try: Prawns poached in green Thai curry broth


The juice and zest of fresh limes add distinctive sourness to Thai food.
Try: Durban-style lamb curry with pineapple-and-coconut-raita

Lime leaves

Lime leaves impart a floral and citrus flavour to Thai curries. Lime zest can also be used to give a similar flavour.
Try: Thair red coconut chicken curry

Ponzu sauce

A tart, citrusy sauce used in Japan as a dressing for grilled meat or as a dip for shabushabu (Japanese meat and veg hotpot) or sashimi.
Try: Beef Tartare with hoisin dressing and ponzu mayonnaise


This spice and souring ingredient comes from the fruit of the tamarind tree. Available in “cake” or paste form, it is known as the Indian date and is a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce.
Try: Roast carrots in tamarind dressing with yoghurt

Rice vinegar

Wine vinegar made from rice used in Chinese and Japanese cooking. It’s milder, sweeter and less acidic than Western vinegars.
Try: Aromatic chicken larb withc rispy basil

Back to Asian pantry staples


Article by TASTE

The TASTE team is a happy bunch of keen cooks and writers, always on the look out for the next food trend or the next piece of cake.
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