Getting Saucy: 5 Types of Asian Sauces

Getting Saucy: 5 Types of Asian Sauces

Using the right sauce at the right time and in the right amounts can turn a nondescript dish into something magically delicious.

All around the world, cooking isn’t the same without the right sauce. Using the right sauce at the right time and in the right amounts can turn a nondescript dish into something magically delicious. Although authentic Asian cuisine doesn’t include as much sauce as what you might be used to whenever you go out to eat, here are some types of Asian sauces you should keep in your pantry for your next stir-fry.

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is a staple in all Asian cooking. However, if you are gluten-free, then you need to be careful. That’s because soy sauce is traditionally brewed with wheat, and unless you use specially-formulated gluten-free soy sauce, you could get sick without realizing it. It’s great for marinades, dipping sushi and dumplings, and even as an ingredient in soup. Believe it or not, the darker the sauce, the sweeter it is.

XO Sauce

You might be wondering why this sauce has the name it does. After all, XO is commonly associated with cognac. This sauce doesn’t contain any cognac in it, but it has to do with how long the sauce is aged for six years. Plus, it is a much more elegant and dignified name for the sauce than what it truly is: a blend of seafood, sausage, and alliums, which doesn’t always sound the most appetizing – but it is great on pork and beef!

Chili Oil

Here’s where the heat comes into the picture. You’ll find this oil on the table in Chinese restaurants, but don’t be surprised if you find variants the next time you’re craving Vietnamese, Thai, or Korean cuisine. This is a different species of spicy than wasabi because the wasabi opens up your nasal passages and hits you in the nose and the brain, whereas this sauce hits you in the mouth. It’s excellent for noodles and dumplings.

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce was created by accident. Oysters were left to boil without anyone watching them, and they reduced to a delightful sauce after they were done. Oyster liquor, sugar, and soy sauce are all combined until they have the consistency of maple syrup. You’ve got to be careful when you’re buying this sauce, though. That’s because it could have unexpected add-ons such as MSG or sherry or corn syrup in it, and it is possible to allergic to corn as it is to be allergic to wheat, shrimp, or dairy.

Shacha Sauce

You might see it spelled different ways, or transliterated as “bullhead sauce” but this is essentially Taiwanese barbecue sauce, and something you can’t leave out if you want to have hot pot. Soybean oil, chili, sesame, coconut, flatfish, and dried shrimp are all the essential ingredients in this one.

Get All Your Asian Groceries at Lotte Plaza Market

Lotte Plaza Market is your one-stop shop for all of your Korean and Asian grocery needs. With more than 10 locations in Maryland and Virginia, this growing market is always expanding and opening new markets to serve our customers better. Since we opened in 1976, our goal has always been to provide the best customer service and groceries to our customers. For answers to all of your questions, please email us at

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