Guide to Stocking a Gluten Free Lactose Free Asian Pantry
Where and How to Start Stocking a Gluten Free Asian Pantry
The first step in cooking a gluten free Asian meal successfully is to have a finely stocked gluten free pantry. A pantry is usually a cool dry location where you store food articles for a period of time. This includes not only the kitchen cabinets and shelves but also your fridge and freezer.
When grocery shopping, it is important to always read the product labels and check the ingredients listed to ensure that the products do not contain gluten or any other allergens that you are allergic to. There are now quite a few good Asian brands that have full disclosure for all ingredients and potential allergens relating to their products, namely Ayam, Chang’s, and Kikkoman, available in Australia.
Asian products are available in Asian section of the supermarket aisles like Coles, Woolworths, selected IGA and Asian groceries stores. You can also purchase gluten free products from health food and gluten free aisles of leading local supermarkets and health food stores especially for baking essentials.
The following list of healthy food staples is to help make your gluten free Asian grocery shopping easier and for you to stock up your pantry progressively:-
Healthy Oils, Vinegars & Cooking Wine
- Good quality extra virgin olive oil for everyday cooking and salad dressing.
- Rice bran oil for deep frying in high temperature.
- Pure sesame oil used in cooking and salad dressing.
- Peanut oil for cooking and salad dressing.
- Gluten free rice wine vinegar for cooking and salad dressing (Amoy & Obento brands).
- Good quality balsamic vinegar* for cooking and salad dressing.
- Pale dry or medium dry sherry for cooking (substitute for Shaoxing rice wine, which normally has wheat added).
- Gluten free cooking sake for cooking, marinating, and to add flavour to soups and sauces (Obento brand).
*For Balsamic Vinegar, even though it is made from grapes but it is aged in barrels built with wood and wheat or rye flour paste is used to seal those barrels could result in cross contamination of the balsamic vinegar. But this could only affect people who are highly sensitive to trace gluten. If not, balsamic vinegar should be safe for those on a gluten free diet.
Asian Condiments– Refrigerate after opening
- Light Soy Sauce Gluten Free
There are numerous brands of gluten free light soy sauces available on the market. Some of the popular brands are Ayam, Kikkoman, Pureharvest and Lee Kum Kee, in Australia. San-J, Eden Foods and Kikkoman, in the United States. A must have in an Asian kitchen. Typically used as an alternative for salt in Asian cooking to enrich taste. An all versatile sauce for stir fries, as marinade and for flavouring dishes.
- Dark/Thick Soy Sauce (Kecap Manis) Gluten Free
This is a darker, thicker and sweeter soy sauce generally used to enhance colour and flavour during the cooking process. Usually caramel and brown sugar or palm sugar is added to light soy sauce for its unique texture. Ideal for stir-fries, meat stews, noodles and fried rice. Commercial brand of gluten free dark soy sauce available on the market in Australia is Ayam brand.
You can easily make your own by mixing equal parts of dark brown sugar or brown sugar to gluten free light soy sauce. Boiling the mixture in a pan on low heat until thickened. Refer relevant recipe here.
- Honey Soy Sauce Gluten Free
This handy sauce has a sweet savoury taste. Excellent for marinades for meats especially for grilling and roasting, and can also be used in stir-fries and meat stews. Brand available is Ayam in Australia. To make the sauce yourself, just add one tablespoon of honey to 2 tablespoons of gluten free light soy sauce.
- Oyster Sauce Gluten Free
A succulent and multipurpose savoury sauce made from oyster extract, thickened with rice flour and darkened with caramel. Commonly used in stir-fries dishes such as noodles, meat and vegetables, and as toppings for steam vegetables like Gai-lan. Brands available are Ayam and Chang’s in Australia. Wok Mei and Lee Kum Kee Panda Brand Green Label oyster-flavoured sauce and Kikkoman are available in the United States.
- Black Bean Sauce Gluten Free
A lavishly, concentrated and aromatic sauce with a unique fragrant black bean taste. Fantastic for stir-fries, as marinades, in meat stews and even steamed fish. Brands of gluten free black bean sauce available on the market are Ayam and Chang’s in Australia. One Culture Foods Brand in United States.
- Hoisin Sauce Gluten Free
Traditionally, a well-liked versatile thick and tangy Asian sauce. Commonly used in all kinds of stir-fries, as marinades, meat stews or even as a dipping sauce. Brands available are Ayam and Chang’s in Australia. Wok Mei, kikkoman and Coconut Secret (also soy free) in the United States.
- Plum Sauce Gluten Free
A favourite Asian condiment with a sweet and sour taste, normally used as a dipping sauce for spring rolls, fried chicken, roast duck and other roasted meats like BBQ pork, roast pork and roast chicken. Only brand available is Ayam in Australia. Wok Mei brand is available in the United States.
- Fish Sauce Gluten Free
This is a yellowish-brown liquid extracted from the fermentation of fish with salt. It is frequently made from anchovies, salt and water. Normally used sparingly because of its strong taste. A staple ingredient strongly featured in Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. It is used in stir-fries, curries, and as a dipping sauce. Brand available in Australia is Ayam. Red Boat and Thai Kitchen in the United States.
Gluten Free Canned and Bottled Condiments – Refrigerate after opening
- Gluten free Tomato paste and tomato sauce.
- Worcestershire sauce gluten free.
- Sweet chilli sauce gluten free (Lingham’s and Ayam) and chilli sauce gluten free (Ayam).
- Unsulphured blackstrap molasses (Blue Label and Red Seal).
- Gluten free coconut milk, “lite” coconut milk, coconut cream and “lite” coconut cream. Mainly used for Asian curries, stir-fries, baking and desserts.
- Gluten free seedless Tamarind Puree net 114g (Ayam brand).
- Canned Plumrose premium gluten free leg ham 340g and luncheon meat 340g.
- Canned straw mushrooms 425g (Chef’s world brand or any other brands).
- Canned chickpeas 400g.
Gluten Free Packaged Condiments
- Desiccated and shredded coconut used mainly for Rendang dish, and for baking and making desserts.
- Gluten free vegetable and chicken stocks.
Herbs, Spices & Flavourings
- Herbs – coriander, spring onions, kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves, and Thai basil leaves.
- Spices – turmeric (fresh or ground), ground cumin seeds, ground coriander seeds, fennel seeds, ground cardamom, cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, cloves, star anise, Chinese five spice powder (generally a mixture of star-anise, cloves, fennel seeds, cinnamon and Sichuan pepper), dried crushed chilli flake, chilli powder, curry powder (Ayam or other brands that you prefer), satay seasoning powder (Ayam), paprika, ginger (preferably fresh otherwise ground), galangal (fresh preferred if not ground).
- Flavourings – fresh garlic, fresh onion, fresh shallots, fresh ginger, long fresh green and red chillies, small fresh red and/or green chillies, black peppercorn for fresh grinding, ground white pepper, raw brown sugar, brown sugar, dark brown sugar, coconut sugar, agave sugar, honey, iodised fine salt, sea salt for fresh grinding and Stevia (natural sweetener).
Dried Asian Staples
- Dried shiitake mushrooms, dried natural black fungus, dried anchovies, dried Chinese red dates, small dried red chillies, Goji berries, dried bay leaves, Chinese dried shrimps, Chinese dried south almonds (also called apricot kernels), sago or tapioca pearls, dried mung beans and dried adzuki beans.
- Chinese black tea or Japanese green tea and Matcha powder for drinking, cooking, baking and desserts.
Nuts & Seeds
- Dry-roasted peanuts, cashew nuts, candle nuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.
- Raw peanuts with skin (available from Asian groceries stores).
- Black and white sesame seeds and chia seeds.
Grains & Flours Gluten Free
- All Rice – white rice, brown rice, basmati rice, black rice, jasmine rice, glutinous rice and Japanese sushi rice. My favourite for daily usage is basmati rice as its low Glycemic Index (GI) and Jasmine rice for Thai curries.
- Noodles – thin rice noodles, Rice Vermicelli (Glass noodles).
- Flour – rice, corn (maize), glutinous rice, black rice, tapioca (also known as tapioca starch), potato starch, gluten free all-purpose baking flour, gluten free self raising flour, organic coconut flour, sorghum flour, almond meal, hazelnut meal and cashew meal.
- Gluten free baking powder, gluten free xantham gum, gluten free custard powder, cream of tartar, No egg (Natural egg replacer), gluten free glucose syrup derived from corn, agave syrup, pure Canadian maple syrup, agar-agar powder, natural vanilla extract, natural rose water essence, natural coconut essence, natural almond extract and dried cranberries.
- Lactose free milk, almond milk, soy milk, organic soy milk, rice milk, unsweetened almond milk and coconut milk, for baking and making milk shakes.
- All vegan non-dairy buttery spread (Nuttelex Buttery or Nuttelex Pulse Buttery with Soy) for baking. Brand available in United States is Earth Balance.
- Eggs (large or extra-large) for cooking, making quick omelettes and baking.
- Water-packed tofu (non-gmo, lactose free & gluten free) available from Coles and Woolworths. Other brands of gluten free tofu are available in Asian groceries stores.
- Fresh Truss tomato.
- Long fresh green and red chillies.
- Small fresh green and red chillies.
- Lemon and lime.
- Fresh coriander (cilantro) and spring onions (shallots).
- Frozen vegetables – baby peas, baby beans, “corns, peas and carrots mix”, “peas, beans and broccoli mix”, “broccoli, cauliflower and carrots mix” and “garden mix – carrot, cauliflower, green bean and red capsicum” or any types of your favourite frozen vegetables. Excellent for curries, quick stir-fries, fried rice and steam vegetables.
- Frozen finely minced fresh garlic.
- Frozen made from scratch pastes – Thai green curry paste, fresh long red chilli paste and fresh herbs and spices paste.
- Frozen berries for baking and making milk shakes.