CookingLight diet CookingLight diet

Many of these ingredients are available in the produce and ethnic food aisles at large supermarkets. You can also find them at Asian specialty markets.

By Corrine Trang / Photography by Randy Mayor / Styling by Jan Gautro
August 15, 2008

Chiles ( ot; pronounced ut) vary widely in size and color. Very hot Thai or bird's-eye chiles are the most common.

Fish sauce ( nuoc mam; nyuk maam) is an indispensable seasoning made of anchovies. A good quality fish sauce really makes a difference; we like Three Crabs.

Lemongrass ( xa; sa) adds tangy flavor to stir-fries, stews, and sauces. Remove the outer leaves and dark-green leafy tops to reveal the creamy bulb, which can be chopped, crushed, sliced, or grated.

Mung bean sprouts ( gia; zia) have yellow tips and white stems, and add crunch to salads and soups.

Rice vermicelli ( banh hoai; baan hoy) are thin rice noodles that are used in Vietnamese table salads.

Thai basil ( rau que; rao keh) is among the herbs that traditionally accompany Vietnamese dishes. The stems have a subtle purple hue.

Not Shown:

Cilantro ( rau mui; rao moy) leaves are used in finished dishes. Use the stems to flavor stock and rice.

Ginger ( gung; guh ng), an important flavoring, is often used in stocks and braised dishes.

Pearl tapioca ( bot bang; but baang) is used primarily in sweets with coconut milk.

Rice ( gao te; gao teh) is a staple for nearly half the world's population. Use jasmine rice for tender, separate, and fragrant cooked grains.

Rice sticks ( banh pho; baan phuh), dried, flat rice noodles, are used in stir-fries and soups.

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