The sauces used in Asian cooking can be intimidating and confusing when standing in the grocery store. Here is a simple guide to help with what flavors are found in each sauce and what dishes these sauces work best in.
Soy Sauce: This is a brown sauce with a salty taste. It is available in lite as well as original. It is an all-purpose sauce that blends well with cage and fish.
Fish Sauce: This sauce can be intimidating thinking that it will give a strong fish flavor to dishes. The brown sauce is stronger in scent than in flavor. It is commonly used in Southeastern Asian and Thailand dishes.
Oyster Sauce: This oyster flavored sauce is strong in flavor and lends itself well to noodles as well as meat, seafood and vegetables. Start with a small amount as the flavor can be overpowering.
Chili Sauce: This sauce can be spicy or mild. It is often used as a condiment somewhat like ketchup or salsa. It can be added at the end of a stir fry to give the stir fry an extra bit of spice.
Sesame Oil: This is a very mild flavored oil that is used in cool dishes to enhance the background flavor. When heated the oil looses most of its flavor.
Rice Wine: This is a strong vinegar type wine that can be used in dressings or in hot dishes. It blends well with sesame oil and oyster sauce for a simple sauce.
Star Anise: This spice is a combination spice as common as cinnamon. It is best used with beef or poultry.