Friday, March 30, 2007

In the Pantry

What do you stock in the pantry? Are there essentials that one cannot just do without? Well yes and no. Firstly, and most importantly, it is a matter of taste and the flavors you like to work with. Though for me there are musts for my kitchen. I want to make sure that I can give my meal the Latin, Asian or Mediterranean characters I enjoy.

To keep my spices fresh and as pungent as possible I store them in my freezer. Heat and light are the killers of flavors so at a minimum keep you spices in a dark container away from the stove. I also buy them whole as grind them as I need them – this way they stay as aromatic for as long as possible. Buy an inexpensive coffee grinder and dedicate to your spices.

It is best to store any nut oils such as the sesame, walnut and the like in the refrigerator. They tend to go rancid quickly. While this is not toxic it is unpleasant on the tongue. Olive and canola has about a six-month shelf life though during the hot months I move them into the refrigerator too. Don’t worry if they thickened when chilled just let them sit at room temperature for five minutes and they will liquefy once again.

This guideline is really all about ensuring that you have within reach the basics you’ll need/want to work with when cooking.

Here is my always on-hand items:
Good quality olive oil
Canola oil
Toasted sesame seed oil
Soy sauce
Red wine vinegar
Rice wine vinegar
Sherry vinegar
Thai fish sauce
Basmati rice
Dried pasta
Canned beans
Pine nuts
Dijon-style mustard
Worcestershire sauce
Kecap manis
Sun dried Tomatoes
Canned whole tomato
Coconut milk
Whole black pepper
All-purpose flour
Vanilla beans or extract
Semi-sweet chocolate
White chocolate
Baking soda
Brown sugar
Palm sugar
Sea salt
Kosher salt
Cumin Whole
Star anise
Whole nutmeg
Dried chilies
Hot chili sauce

1 comment:

Mike Z said...

Searching for ketchup manis found this.. I also can’t live without honey, I need white sugar too, ginger, bay leaf, dark chocolate, and of course garlic.