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SPECIALTY FOOD MAGAZINE - America Adopts the Asian Pantry


America Adopts the Asian Pantry

By Nicole Potenza Denis

Once a week growing up, cartons of Lo Mein, Beef with Broccoli and Chow Mein were strewn across our kitchen table on Chinese take-out night. The food always took a back seat to what lay at the bottom of the bags: endless packets of soy sauce. These packets made dinner flavors pop—and the pleasing memory of the bold, strong, exotic salty-bitter flavors they imparted lingered well into dessert.

Unfortunately, that was the only day of the week soy sauce received any attention. It was a condiment sadly overlooked.

Twenty years later, the bold flavors of soy sauce and other authentic Asian condiments that evoke salty, spicy, fishy and citrus flavors, are invading the American pantry. Authentic Asian flavors and condiments are quickly gaining respect and becoming staples in American households, changing the way we eat and cook.

The Real Deal

As Asian flavors become accepted by the masses, some manufacturers feel there is an urgent need to introduce authentic products.

Real Wasabi, LLC based in Hilton Head Island, S.C., is doing just that. “Most people do not know that 95 percent of the wasabi sold in the U.S. is imitation and can be a mixture of horseradish, mustard, corn starch and food coloring,” says Doug Lambrecht, founding partner/CEO, Real Wasabi. Grown in the mountains of both North Carolina and Asia, the subtle and smooth heat from the company’s authentic Wasabia Japonica can be used to flavor dressings or marinades, mixed with jams and cream cheese for sweet and spicy appetizers or to kick up a Bloody Mary.

“Consumers want the real deal,” says Rebecca Schmidt, director of communications, PeaceWorks, LLC. A combination of Indian, Chinese and Thai flavors, the company’s authentic Indonesian Bali Spice line is made by a woman-owned factory in Indonesia. Its garlic chili sauce is the best seller in the line and offers sweet-hot tastes that spice up tofu dishes or add flavor to soups and stews.


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