The other day, someone from our facebook group posted an excellent question. It was actually so relevant that we felt compelled to dedicate a special page to it! So the question asked was:
“Is there a list of items to keep in hand for these recipes. My world market is about an hour away and I want to stock up on necessary items I can’t find in a regular grocery store.”
We are lucky enough to live right down the street from a couple of Asian supermarkets, but we know that isn’t the case for everyone. So if you are located in an area that requires bulk shopping, here is the list of ingredients we would call ‘essential’ to our recipes!
The good news is that all of these items are considered shelf stable (over 12 month shelf life), so feel free to stock up! You can also purchase on Amazon (in which we participate in their affiliate marketing program and would truly appreciate if you ordered through the links provided). Keep in mind that most of these products are imported so pricing is going to be naturally higher compared to an equivalent domestic product.
So without further ado, here are the top ingredients used in LCA’s lowcarb/keto recipes!!
Net Carbs – 0g
If you are experienced with lowcarb/keto, chances are you have heard of these two products. However, if you are new to this lifestyle, here is the quick rundown. Swerve/Monkfruit is the direct substitution for sugar in traditional cooking. They both have similar flavors to sugar (will elaborate on this in a bit), they measure somewhat close to sugar, and yet, they have 0 net carbs! They do not affect your blood sugar at all or even cause cavities! There are other sweeteners aside from these two (i.e. stevia, sorbitol, etc) but we prefer using these 2 brands in our cooking. Swerve tends to work better in reduction type purposes or when exposed to heat (less crystallization), where as Monkfruit shines in the use of cold cooking and drinks. There is a slight ‘cooling’ effect for some people , but we have found that it can be covered up/balanced out with other ingredients during the cooking process.
The best place we found to purchase Swerve/Monkfruit is Amazon. However, if you live near a Grocery Outlet store, definitely check there as we have made a massive haul before of picking up 1lb bags at 5.99 USD (usually 10.99 USD)!!
2) Soy Sauce
Net Carbs – 2g per 1 tbsp (exact numbers will depend on brand)
We hate to sound stereotypical, but Soy Sauce really is the base ingredient for most Japanese/Asian cooking, without it, there just would be no recipes on here! There are plenty of brands to choose from, but we personally like Marukin’s Low Sodium Soy Sauce the best. Kikkoman is definitely the most branded and distributed here in the USA, but we find it very salty with no umami flavor. We think Marukin’s Low Sodium Soy Sauce strikes a perfect balance between salt and umami. There also is Yamasa Low Sodium, which we like as well.
Soy Sauce should be readily available at most supermarkets, but in case you are located somewhere very remote, Amazon is your friend! Also, if you are interested in the Marukin’s Low Sodium Soy Sauce or Yamasa Low Sodium, a 1L bottle will run around 3.99 – 5.99 at a local Asian supermarket.
Net Carbs – 0g
We would have to say this is probably the 2nd most used ingredient on our website. Before we started LCA, we always had a bottle around and it lasted for 2-3 months. But with all the recipe creations now, a bottle will last a week tops!! Kewpie Mayonnaise tastes very different compared to the domestic mayonnaise like Best Foods or Hellman’s, it is much more creamier and richer then the Western counterparts and really makes a difference in the final dish. So if you were to stockpile any of the ingredients listed, Kewpie Mayonnaise is definitely one of them!
The best place you can get Kewpie Mayonnaise is at a local Asian supermarket. Our local Asian supermarket sometimes has sales for 4.49 USD a bottle and that is when we stockpile, but normally they range from 5.99-6.99 USD.
4) Japanese Sake
Net Carbs – 0.75g per 1 tbsp
Since Japanese Sake is not distilled (it is brewed similar to beer), it does contain some carbs, but the amount used for most of our recipes are pretty negligible. The purpose of Japanese Sake in our recipes are:
- To eliminate and neutralize unwanted flavors of some meats (fish, pork, etc)
- Balance out certain flavors in the final dish and act as a liaison between fusing flavors
So while some people will opt to skip this ingredient for different reasons, we think it really does help set certain dishes off (especially anything with pork and seafood). You can substitute this with Dry Sherry Wine as well.
NOTE – Since we actually get asked this a lot, we thought we would point this out but RICE WINE VINEGAR and JAPANESE SAKE are NOT interchangeable. One is a vinegar/sour and the other is an alcohol/bitter.
The best place you can get Japanese Sake is at a local Asian supermarket. The ones we buy are the giant bottles for 5.99 – 6.99 USD and we usually just pick the cheapest one available. Note – you definitely can drink for enjoyment purposes as well, but be prepared for a headache the next day (from experience)!!
Net Carbs – 0g
Here is the base for most ‘umami’ dishes in Japanese cuisine – Dried Bonito Flakes. That’s right! Most people would never guess, but umami comes from fish among other sources. For those that are not familiar with the term ‘umami’, it is considered to be a flavor/taste. The main ones are sweet, sour, bitter, salty with umami being a debatable 5th taste. It is hard to describe what umami tastes like, but I would say something like sweet, salty with a lasting savory flavor left on your palate. MSG or Monosodium glutamate is actually an artificial way of creating ‘umami’ flavor. However, we prefer the natural way and that is through dried bonito flakes.
Majority of the ways we use Dried Bonito Flakes is through water extraction, or Dashi, but it can also be used as a topping for many of our recipes. We would recommend just keeping 1 extra bag in your pantry as a bag does last quite a while.
Net Carbs – 2g per ~4 pieces
Here is the 2nd source of umami we use – Dried Shiitake Mushrooms. We are not sure why this is the case, but there is a huge difference in taste between Dried Shiitake Mushrooms and fresh Shiitake mushrooms. I would say Dried Shiitake Mushrooms have nearly 2-3 times the umami punch that fresh Shiitake has, so these cannot be substituted for one another. We don’t use a ton of Dried Shiitake Mushrooms in our cooking, but since they are dehydrated and last for pretty much forever, it doesn’t hurt to have a bag on hand!
7) Sesame Oil
Net Carbs – 0g
Sesame oil is used in various Asian cooking (not only Japanese) and really does represent a lot of ‘Asian’ cuisines. You can use whatever brand you can access, but just make sure it is 100% sesame oil. Some cheaper brands mix the oils and call it ‘blended sesame oil’, which pretty much has no taste to it. The one we use is the Kadoya Sesame Oil and has a great taste to it!
You should be able to get sesame oil almost anywhere, but again, make sure it is really 100% sesame oil not blended.
Net Carbs – 1g per 1 tbsp (exact numbers will depend on brand)
If you have never had ponzu before, it is essentially soy sauce with a touch of citrus, so basically a zesty soy sauce. Some people make it at home, but we just prefer to buy the specific brand Mizkan Aji Ponzu (which was formerly Mitsukan) since we think it tastes the best. Now, we don’t use a ton of this condiment in our base recipe, but it is really a versatile ingredient to make dipping sauce with! We haven’t released that many dipping sauces yet, but we plan to share them all in our future cookbook!!
The only place you can really get the Mizkan Aji Ponzu is a local Asian supermarket, which usually costs 3.99-4.99 USD. Amazon does carry that brand as well as the Kikkoman Ponzu, but we personally find that one a little too sweet (more carbs as well).
9) Other Mentions
In our house, we drink a lot of Miso Soup so we always have some miso, but this would just depend on each household. We also keep a bottle of Yuzu in stock, but wouldn’t label it as a must have ingredient.
So that concludes our list of top ingredient used here at LCA! Hope you found it useful and you can pick up some of these ingredients on your next shopping trip!
If you ever have any questions, suggestion, requests – definitely reach out to us on Instagram, Facebook, u/LowCarbingAsian, email or comment below! We really enjoying hearing from everyone and it is the best part of running this website!
Take care and lowcarb/keto ON!!Go To Home More Recipes Contact Us
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