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What Type of Sauce is Typical in Southeast Asia

When talking about Asian cuisine, there are a wide variety of dishes, flavors, colors, and textures that can captivate everyones’ palate. If you want to go deeper into Asian cuisine, you should note that there are plenty of Asian sauce recipes this cuisine has to offer.

There are several sauces and dressings people outside Asia must try, but if you want to know what type of sauce is typical in southeast Asia; Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese cuisine are among the best.

Even though southeast Asian sauces recipes can change from one region to another, ingredients like soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce are the foundation for most of these delicious and more flavor-complex sauces.

By the way, if you want to experiment with these flavors at home we recommend stocking up on sweet chili sauce and teriyaki sauce. These two sauces are not only quintessentially Asian but they easy to add to dishes to elevate them to a new level.

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What Is Asian Sauce?

Asian cuisine is one of the best in the world. Known for its deep and full-bodied flavors, this cuisine is delicious, colorful, and almost universally favored.

Asian recipes are full of veggies and proteins, which makes it one of the healthiest dining options. They are also adaptable to all kinds of diets without skimping on flavor.

However, one of the secrets of Asian cuisine is not only the recipes but the sauces and dressings used to add that extra layer of flavor we crave for.

These sauces can be made with several different ingredients, which give them sweet, umami, pungent, briny, nutty, floral, and savory flavors. Depending on the region, Asian sauce recipes can vary from being spicy or more sweet according to the traditions of each region.

Korean sauces are one of the most famous due to their mixture of flavors. They are mostly prepared with soy sauce as the foundation and chili or sriracha sauce for the spicy element. If we go to Japan, we often find thicker and sweeter sauces, used to drip fish in or to eat with good sushi.

Due to globalization and social media platforms, Asian sauce recipes have become more popular, and more people are attempting to make their own version at home. Luckily, most of these sauces are easy to prepare at home. Even when most ingredients are not typically found in US supermarkets, you might find an Asian grocery store. There’ll you are sure to find what type of sauce is typical in Southeast Asia.

Teriyaki Sauce
Roasted Red Chili Paste

Asian Sauce Recipes: What is included in your Asian Sauce

To know what type of sauce is typical in Southeast Asia, we must take a deep look into the ingredients used to prepare these popular Asian sauces.

Among the full dishes recipes, there are some consistent ingredients in Asian cuisine. However, when it comes to sauces, it changes a bit. Since these sauces have different textures, and layers of flavors, the ingredients used for a salad won’t be the same to prepare a sauce.

If you want to know in detail what type of sauce is typical in Southeast Asia, and what are the most used ingredients, keep reading.

Soy Sauce

Considered one of the most ancient ingredients, its records date back to 300 CE. Even though soy sauce is made with very few ingredients; you just need soybeans, yeast culture, and wheat. Preparing takes time and patience for it to be perfect.

The first step is to take the soybeans, soak them, and then later steam them. Then mix them with yeast culture, and wheat flour, and you will let it ferment for about two years.

Among soy sauces, there are two main types: light soy sauce and dark soy sauce. These two types of soy sauce vary in color, flavor, and texture. Despite the fact that soy sauce was invented in China, there are Japanese varieties that we will mention later in this article. However, when going to the store and looking for soy sauce, you most likely will find light soy sauce.

Thai Roasted Red Chili Paste

As its name suggests, this is an ingredient mostly used in Thai Asian sauces recipes, but due to globalization, it’s now used in other countries to prepare delicious dishes. This roasted chili paste is made by blending other different ingredients, such as red chilies, and Asian spices like tamarind. Some people add in sauces to make this red hot chili paste, as well as shrimp, garlic, lime juice, and peanuts. All of this enhances the flavor of the chili paste. This is one of the most used foundations to prepare Asian sauces recipes.

This chili paste is used to add heat and a little fresh flavor in Asian sauce recipes. However, you can use it for every Asian-inspired dish that needs a little spicy flavor.

Fish Sauce

To prepare fish sauce, fermentation techniques are also used. It is made using what most people would call “fish sauce” for at least two years. It is known for having a particular smell.

Although, it adds an amazing umami flavor to the Asian classic flavors. One of the dishes where it is a must-have is pad thai, soups, and curries. It is also a star ingredient in other Asian sauces recipes.

Fish sauce is light and salty, and there’s no direct substitute for it. Nevertheless, for vegans you can replace it with soy sauce, it’s the closest thing to it.

Oyster Sauce

Oyster sauce is a rich, thick, and dark sauce with syrup consistency. It is made from oyster juice. To prepare this sauce, you will use oyster juice, which will be the result of boiling and simmering the oysters for a long period of time. Then, you will add sugar, soy sauce, and sauce to enhance the overall flavor. This way the umami flavor will stand out.

When compared with soy sauce and fish sauce, oyster sauce is thicker and sweeter than the two. It is mostly used in stir fries recipes, and it is the perfect companion for vegetables, marinades, and even noodles.

Fish Sauce

Different Types of Asian Sauces

When it comes to Asian sauces recipes, there are several sauces that showcase the different eclectic flavors of Asian sauces. As we explore what type of sauce is typical in Southeast Asia, we can tell there’s a vast variety of sauces we can choose from to have an unforgettable dining experience.

Here we will mention some of the most famous Asian sauces recipes. You can add your own touch and have them as dipping sauces, stir fry sauces, marinades, salad dressing, and more.

Gochujang Sauce

When doing research about what type of sauce is typical in Southeast Asia, you will find Gochujang sauce at the top of the list. And for those who love smoky flavors, this sauce is for you.

Gochujang is a paste of textured sauces. It is made from fermented soybean, glutinous rice, malt powder, salt, and chili powder. It has a particular savory, spicy and sweet flavor profile that will stick with you once you try it. The flavor of Gochujang reflects the essence of the taste of Korean cuisine in general.

This sauce can be used to flavor other sauces, as a base for soups and salad dressings, and to marinades. When used for pickling it can add a signature flavor to other dishes. Due to its smoky flavor, it is also used in tandem with other liquid ingredients.

If you want to add a smoky, spicy, but sweet flavor to your dishes, Gochujang is your best option.

Nam Chim Chaeo

This is an Asian sauce that is made with dried chili peppers, fish sauce, lime juice, toasted sticky rice, and palm sugar. This sauce is known for having a complex flavor combination. It is spicy, and sour, with dominant sweetness layers, as well as a slightly liquid but sticky texture.

It is mostly served as a dipping sauce with animal proteins, pork, or chicken. The Nam Chin Chaeo usually comes with sliced scallions on top.


If you are wondering what type of sauce is typical in Southeast Asia, Ssamjang is the answer. It is one of the most famous sauces in Korea. It has a salty, nutty, smokey, and pungent flavor. Its multi-layered taste will blow your mind.

For texture, this thick sauce is made with chopped scallions, garlic, and sesame seeds. Honey and sesame oil are the finishing ingredients to prepare this mouth-watering sauce. The result is a roasted, nutty, but sweet delicious sauce.

It is typically used as a dipping sauce for grilled meats. It has been named the Korean BBQ sauce, due to its texture, color, and use for cooking.

Mắm nêm

Another Asian sauce recipes is this is a traditional Vietnamese sauce, made with fermented anchovies as the key ingredient. Like any other fish-based sauces, it has a pungent flavor.

Mắm nêm uses the entire fish to achieve that strong deep taste. It is mixed with other ingredients when served in dishes. Such as lime juice, pineapple, chili, sugar, and garlic. All these ingredients enhance the base flavor of mắm nêm.

To have a wonderful experience with this sauce, it’s recommended to have beef-based dishes, the combination is exquisite.

Nam Phrik

In Thai cuisine, there are a wide variety of sauces. On our quest to discover what type of sauce is typical in Southeast Asia and beyond, we have the Nam Prik sauce, which refers to all the types of chili-based sauces prepared in Thailand.

Even when the texture and consistency can vary from sauce to sauce, its preparation is the same. They are all prepared in a mortar using dry or fresh chili peppers. Ingredients like garlic, seasonings, and lime juice, along with fish sauces and shrimp sauce as a variation.

Depending on the region, this sauce can vary. Some people add ingredients like tamarind sugar, galangal, and even dry or pickled fruits and fish. In most cases, Nam Phrik is used as a dipping sauce to eat with meat, fish, or vegetables.

Sambal Terasi

This traditional Indonesian and Malaysian sauce is one of the sauces you must try when asking what type of sauce is typical in Southeast Asia. It is also known as a variety of Sambal, because it is prepared with a combination of shrimp paste (terasi) and chili peppers as the base ingredients. There are other ingredients added to this sauce, like shallots, onions, garlic, lime juice, sugar, oil, and salt.

This bold sauce can be used in several dishes as a condiment, like lam mee noodles in Malaysia. It’s worth mentioning that this sauce is also known as Sambal Belacan in Malaysia.

Popular Asian Sauces You Need to Try at Home

Teriyaki Sauce

For those who want to know what type of sauce is typical in Southeast Asia, we must mention Teriyaki sauce. Considered one of the most famous and worldwide recognizable Japanese sauces, Teriyaki sauce is a savory, sweet and delicious sticky sauce that almost everyone loves.

Its name comes from the two Japanese words which mean Teri as a shine and yaki which means grilled. Essentially, Teriyaki is a cooking method where ingredients are cooked on the grill with a thick sauce, which is called Teriyaki sauce.

To prepare this sauce you will only need mirin, palm sugar, and soy sauce. There are some variations of this sauce where people add garlic and sesame seeds, but that’s the most popular recipe.

You can prepare this sauce easily at home with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and brown sugar. Teriyaki sauce can be used in several dishes, as a finishing sauce to eat with meats, pork, or chicken. And as a glaze, vegetables, and tofu.

Sweet Chili Sauce

This sauce is used when you want to add that extra heat to dishes or if you want to enhance the flavor of a broth or a soup. Sweet chili sauce is known for its sweet, savory, spicy, and tangy flavors all in one. You can prepare it with garlic, ginger, red chilies, sugar, and vinegar.

Use this sauce to enhance the flavors of vegetables, spring rolls, wontons, stir-fries, seafood, and more.

Sesame Dressing

This is one of the most versatile sauces you can find when researching about Asian sauce recipes sesame oil, also known as sesame dressing. Once you try it it will be your preferred sauce to use as dressings, vinaigrettes, and seasoning.

The foundation of these sauces is roasted sesame seeds that when cooked, produce an aromatic deliciously flavor. The more you toast the sesame seeds, the stronger the flavor. You can add vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce to take this sauce to another level and make it your favorite Asian dressing.


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