5@5 - Chef Sang Yoon
August 10th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Where's the beef? And the beer?

Sang Yoon is the the chef/restaurateur behind the microbrew-centric gastropub, Father's Office, in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California. Along with serving up his insane Maytag blue cheese, Gruyère, arugula and applewood-bacon compote burger, Yoon filters the 36 tap brews on the menu through special tubing designed for blood transfusions - let's just say he likes to spice things up.

This fall, the Korean-born chef will stray from his burger-and-beer following and dedicate his first fine dining restaurant, Lukshon, to his Asian roots and its lesser known flavors.

Five Unsung Heroes of Asian Sauces: Sang Yoon

1. Kecap manis (Indonesia/Malaysia)
"The ancestor of ketchup. There are numerous regional versions throughout southeast Asia. Dark, molasses-like sweetness, salty, thick soy sauce - like a liquid punctuation mark."

2. Dou Ban Jiang (China)
"Fermented bean chili paste. A cornerstone ingredient in mapo tofu, dan dan noodles and countless other dishes Powerful, funky, salty, deep intense flavor. Scorching hot."

3. Black Vinegar (China)
"Made from black glutinous rice. Nice, balanced flavor of acid, subtle sweetness and slight nuttiness. It could easily replace a balsamic in a salad dressing and nobody would know."

4. Sambal Ijo (Padang, West Sumatra, Indonesia)
"The lesser known green cousin of the popular sambal oelek. Made with green chilies and often green tomatoes, shrimp paste or anchovies. Less spicy and less popular than oelek. Amazing with seafood."

5. Japanese Worcestershire
"Milder than the United Kingdom version. Usually made from fruits and carrots. Can be a sauce for just about anything on its own or be a cooking ingredient. Sweet, savory, brown."

Hoisin happy? Silly for Sriracha? Let us know your favorite Asian condiments (and how you utilize them) in the comments.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Lynell Mooring

    I've been known to stay away the later part of reading until eventually Several or even 5am. Not often rather than for a little bit right now, nevertheless it possesses transpired! Think itrrrs great if a weblog grabs anyone a huge amount of you should make this happen!

    August 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
  2. boomaga

    Big Sriracha and Sambal Oelek fan – Nam Ploy to me is too sweet for anything but an egg roll dipping sauce. I'd like to put in a plug for a few things I didn't see mentioned: Korean Red Chili Paste has a unique texture and flavor that is addictive, on meats or a a scrambled eggs and rice fry-up. And the Laotian restaurant I used to favor always had an assortment for each table for their version of pho, including fish sauce, Maggi or equivalent savory seasoning sauce, Sri, two or three kinds of sambal, and a beef-flavored soup paste. There's one though that I've hardly ever seen in recipes much less bottled: finadine (sp? always heard it pronounced "fin-ah-DIN-nee") sauce – very popular on Guam, where the Chamorro said it was a Filipino thing. It was just equal parts white vinegar and soy sauce with plenty of chilis, but it was amazing with barbecue kelaguen or an adobo or just rice...

    August 15, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
  3. jillmarie

    I LOVE kim chee. I also love spicy chinese mustard.

    August 11, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
  4. MT in TX

    I love all things szechuan and particularly love Grandma Lu's Sichuan Seasoning. It has that "mala" flavor I can't get enough of. I sprinkle it on everything, but really like it on cold salads. It's addictive!

    August 11, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  5. Stop Referring To Us As Sauces

    Asian is not a flavor–it is not a sauce. Asian is not a type of salad, a font style, or an accent. We are freaking human beings. Jesus H. Christo!

    August 11, 2010 at 5:10 am |
  6. Tommy Ferrell

    I love sriracha! It adds a wonderful sweet and garlicky heat to any dish – Asian or otherwise. Also, I wish those who do so would stop calling it "rooster sauce" or "cock sauce".

    August 11, 2010 at 5:02 am |
  7. M.R. in L.A.

    A new favorite that I found recently at a local Filipino market is a coconut vinegar with onions in it. It has a nice sour tang with a little bite from the onions. It's great just on rice and has less sodium than soy. I also add a little to the water if I'm steaming dumplings which gives them a nice little tangyness.

    August 11, 2010 at 2:01 am |
  8. Blessed Geek

    1. Sriracha poached salmon/herring sprinkled with chopped cilantro.
    2. Tiny anchovies crispy-fried in sriracha, with onions & garlic – use with blue or cottage cheese in sandwich.
    3. Ground chicken liver fried in garlic, onions and sriracha – use with blue cheese as salad dressing.
    4. Sriracha on fermented tofu.
    5. Sriracha and shredded cheddar on crispy-fried bananas (goreng pisang).

    Sriracha is a style of hot sauce with origins from Si Racha district in Thailand (as claimed by the Thais http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sriracha_sauce), but that style of sauce has actually been in existence throughout Southeast Asia with dialectical variation. The style might actually have originated from Hainanese cuisine.

    August 11, 2010 at 1:50 am |
  9. marstop

    Sriracha on sweet corn...mmmmmmm!

    August 11, 2010 at 12:29 am |
  10. HOT IS GOOD!

    For all the Sriacha fans, why not use Sambal. Much better taste and really spicy!

    August 11, 2010 at 12:15 am |
    • Joe

      Amen brother....Sriracha is nothing compared to Sambal ABC.

      But really, the true gem is kecap manis. There is nothing like it in the world.
      And it belongs to Indonesia...not Malaysia.

      August 11, 2010 at 2:47 am |
      • lisa

        Exactly what I thought!!! Sambal is much better. And I thought that at least they put Indonesia before Malaysia...since it actually IS Indonesian.

        August 11, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  11. Dell888

    I'm definitely silly for Sriracha. I put that stuff on anything that I want to spice up. Does not have to be Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese or even Asian for that matter. I always wondered about the history of this product with the Ole Rooster. How in the world does a product become the de facto standard for all Asian kitchens and not have one piece of advertisement out there?

    August 10, 2010 at 11:38 pm |
  12. Karyl

    I have found one brand of hoisin sauce that I consider superior, although I don't have any of it right now! :( However I like to mix it with lemon curd and bake pork chops and use that as the baking sauce. If you have rubbed the chops with a cut clove of garlic, a fresh cut lemon slice and a little sesame oil, you'll be in heaven!

    August 10, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  13. Peter

    Three Crabs Fish Sauce!

    August 10, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
  14. Kiira S.

    Nuoc nam! Vietnamese fish sauce- it is so tasty! Salty, a little funky, but in a good way! Try it in your ramen/pho/soup/curry!! Gives it a nice, rich taste! And it stores perfectly in your pantry- the crystal formation on the cap after repeated use is nothing to worry about.
    Sriracha! A popular one- I say Rooster Ketchup, my Phillipino grandpa says Oriental Ketchup, haha! I use it on a lot of food. Ramen, pizza, eggs, Spam and Rice..

    I use sesame oil for everything.

    And, sprinkle seto fumi furikake on your rice or noodles. It is nori flakes, sesame seeds, shrimp/fish. Very common in Japanese cuisine.

    Not to change topic, but for ramen, I recommend Kung-Fu shrimp. I find it in the South East Asia Markets.

    ^_^ Happy noshing!

    August 10, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
  15. drew

    sriracha's not from Asia. It was invented by an Asian American and the company that manufactures it is in California. It is a huge hit in the Asian market, but it is an American product.

    August 10, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
    • Uhno

      drew : Sriracha is thai.. there is an american company that manufactures it, but it was not invented there. The sauce has existed in Thailand prior to the original owner of Huy Fong (the company that makes it in the US) claiming he created it in 1980. /shrug

      August 10, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  16. David G

    Oh, and I have to give a shout-out to the Vietnamese peanut sauce. It is delicious with spring rolls.

    August 10, 2010 at 10:36 pm |
  17. David G

    I love the hot Sriracha sauce and use it on a variety of things. Believe it or not, It is absolutely incredible on corn dogs. Try it! :)

    August 10, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  18. brad

    cheers to all the sriracha shout outs, haven't seen anyone mention mae ploy! sweet, hot, garlicky, versatile. my favorite quick meal is some grilled chicken or pork slathered in mae ploy. it (like the rooster) can be used as a base for other sauces as well. little ginger, little soy, little miso, little mae ploy is a great deep sauce! woohoo asian food!

    August 10, 2010 at 10:22 pm |
  19. Mike Stalder

    Lee Kum Kee's Sichuan Spicy Noodle Sauce. I love this sauce. I use it for Mapo Doufu, Laoyou Noodles, Chicken dishes, and just as a toping for Ramien. My children love it as well. Spicy, but not too bad for most people.

    August 10, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  20. George

    Lapsi sauce from Nepal. It goes with Momos and is AWESOME.

    August 10, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
  21. LoriD

    spoonfuls of sriracha while standing in front of an open refrigerator until i am sweating. follow with a glass of cold milk. sriracha calls my name as if it were crack sometimes.

    August 10, 2010 at 10:02 pm |
  22. aitch

    I don't know what it's called, but a Chinese restaurant in Beaverton, OR used to flavor some dishes with a salt-cured root or dried gourd, finely chopped, and it was utterly delicious - another funky flavor, possibly fermented, almost fishy, very savory, great on everything. Reminded me of the first time I had house-made black bean sauce - heaven!

    August 10, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
  23. Erle Hall

    Cochujang of course! Gotta have it on Bi-bim-bap and all kinds of other eats!

    August 10, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  24. John Mark

    I can only eat macaroni and cheese with soy sauce or teriyaki. I think mac and cheese by itself is gross! If you are a big fan of Asian sauces, try it sometime!

    August 10, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  25. jacentito

    I love the rooster too. Funny thing is, the version we have and love is an American invention by a guy out in California. Great stuff.

    August 10, 2010 at 9:33 pm |
  26. Tori

    I love oyster sauce. Mix is with some Thai chilis and either sesame oil or sesame paste with olive oil and serve it over noodles and veggies.... mmmmmmmmmmm!

    August 10, 2010 at 9:05 pm |
  27. Leslie

    I really like sri-racha but it gives me diarrhea.

    August 10, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
  28. sbp

    Kochujang. Not just as a condiment, but add to any marinade, put a few tablespoons in spaghetti sauce, chili, you name it. Flavor with just a bit of heat.

    August 10, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
  29. Jamesat23

    There's a Filipino "ketchup" made from bananas. The brand name is Mang Tomas and the label has a picture of man with a straw hat. It's brown and kind of looks like apple sauce. It's great on roasted pork or chicken. Look for it in your Asian stores. Not spicy hot, but has great flavor...kind of sweet.

    August 10, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
    • M.R. in L.A.

      I have a co-worker who has been raving about banana ketchup spaghetti.

      August 11, 2010 at 1:43 am |
  30. Jody

    Like many here, I'm a Sriracha ("Rooster Sauce") junkie. I also really like bibimbap sauce (the sauce that goes with the Korean dish of rice/veggies/beef/eggs). I think it may be made from something called "gochujang" - a Korean chili paste.

    August 10, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
    • JuanitaBeasley

      The stuff you squirt on bibimbap is gochujang mixed with some other stuff. You can find a recipe online. I'm probably the only tourist who didn't like it. Lately, I think most Korean food looks better than it tastes... Maybe my palate is ageing.

      August 10, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
  31. JuanitaBeasley

    Well, I live in northern MD, so I haven't had anything even remotely approacing decent Chinese, Japanese or in a long time. But, what I like to cook at home is Sesame peanut noodles. I'm from the Caribbean, but if Japanese people can "whine" and Israelis can sing reggae, then darn it, I'm a gonna cook "Asian" food. My parents got a traditional Chinese cookbook when I was a kid, and we didn't do the Bird's nest soup, but I learned how to make some basic Chinese food. Now I just make stuff up, but I like my sauces better than most of the restaurants.

    Sesame Peanut Sauce
    The sauce is pretty much peanut butter, honey, ginger, garlic, hot African chile, watered-down soy sauce and then a few drops of toasted sesame oil. I eat it on Chinese wheat noodles. I think it's better than the restaurant. The way to make it is to: heat peanut oil, stir fry garlic on low heat. Add the hot chile and try not to inhale it. Add chopped or powdered ginger and fry a bit. Add about a cup of water and soy and maybe a teaspoon of honey. Add the peanut butter. Mix until it's smooth and thick. Taste. Add more water, soy sauce, honey etc to your liking. Toss in the par-boiled noodles. Mix. Before serving put on a couple of drops of toasted sesame oil. You can add seafood or a vegetable at the same time you add the pepper.

    Other than that, I used to like to cook with Five Spice Powder. You can also make a nice sauce for just about anything with garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sugar and chile. OH I almost forgot, I used to eat a Japanese(?) tofu salad. It was soft, cubed tofu with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and hot chile oil.

    I think you can add sliced green onion to it, but that stuff was like crack by itself.

    Hey, how come Korean guy didn't mention gochujang?!! oO Just kidding. Nice story, but I could use more Pictures of Food.

    August 10, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
    • Chaeles Bagli

      mann i love bird's nest soup too even IF its made from spit!!! <333

      i eat it like once every monthish and used to bought from website hongkong-bird-nest.50webs.com/index_e.htm sometimes, my mom went back to hong kong and bought a full suitcase of it cause its cheaper there XD

      September 2, 2010 at 2:17 am |
  32. RJ Vizsla

    Two of my dogs were persistently digging up a section of water line to hear the water running in it and maybe play with it. I tried absolutely everything to discourage them. At one point I put a big, heavy flat rock over their excavation and sacrificed some of the sacred Sambal Olek to spread across the top. They approached, licked experimentally, and then began to tongue wash every last spicy molecule off the rock. They're dogs, not dumb animals.

    August 10, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  33. conch

    does anyone ever see poo khao thong ( grand or great mountain?) sriracha in glass bottles?

    It is, hands down, THE killer sauce.

    August 10, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
    • Eddie

      Oh yeah, the brand, poo khao thong (golden mountain), does have a version of it. They also make different soy sauce type variations, similar to maggi, etc.

      Sriracha is actually a town in eastern coast of Thailand. Obviously it's where the sauce was originated and named after. Although the original taste a bit differently than the rooster brand. It took me a while to get used to the rooster brand, but the original is so hard to come by. So I stock the rooster brand in my fridge.

      August 11, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
  34. Tonny

    Talk about rooster sauce going on everything...have to try this...animal crackers with a scoop of peanut butter and rooster sauce on top...like getting a quick Thai fix at your desk!

    August 10, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
  35. Xasthur

    I've never heard of Japanese Worcestershire sauce but it sounds like Tonkatsu sauce. It's a thick brown fruit and vegi sauce and doesn't taste anything like worcestershire sauce. It's awesome and you use it mainly on fried pork cutlets.

    August 10, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
    • jan

      there is nothing like tonkatsu sauce and then there is kim chee....on a hot dog.....oh so happy

      August 11, 2010 at 12:25 am |
  36. Nicole

    Some of my favorite sauces are Burmese in nature. One is this delicious garlicy, spicy, sweet sauce that they use on noodle dishes, and the other is this eyes-roll-in-the-back-of-your-head-good tamarind sauce that is so divine you could probably slurp it out of a bowl and be happy. I also love fish sauce in coconut dishes, and of course, there is always Sri Racha. There's another hot sauce that I found in Saint Lucia (island in the Caribbean, I know, but still it's so good it's worth a mention) called Baron brand red hot sauce. It's so good, I put it on and in everything. The yellow one is so spicy I started to sweat from a drop on my finger, but woah, so flavorful.

    August 10, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
    • JuanitaBeasley

      Don't be sorry! I'm from the Caribbean and I think our hot sauces are the best! Heh heh heh

      August 10, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
  37. Alex

    Sriracha aka Rooster Sauce is the ABSOLUTE BEST!!! My girlfriend taught me to put a little in miso soup... makes it delicious! I don't know what I would do without that stuff!

    August 10, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  38. M. E. Bessette

    One of the staples in my house is Mushroom Soy Sauce – Richer in flavor and usually less salty, it is a perfect addition to any meat dish. Generally not found in the regular supermarkets, but in just about any little "mom & pop" asian market. It's a must for decent cooking of any variety.

    August 10, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
  39. Chris

    Sesame Oil... the Asian EVOO!

    August 10, 2010 at 7:36 pm |
  40. Eddie

    The Thais have a few:

    Nam prik gra pi: shrimp paste, garlic, thai chili, palm sugar, lime juice. This one is not very common in the US. But it's a staple dipping sauce with fresh veggies, and the fried Thai mackerel. Yummm...

    Nam pla prik: so many variations, my fav – fish sauce, crushed garlic, fresh crushed thai chili, and lime juice with touch of sugar which is good with about everything. It's used in the Thai beef salad. Best used fresh.

    Nam jim kai: sweet tangy spicy sauce used with bbq chicken and grilled seafood. These can be bought at Asian store in the bottle.

    And when all else fails, I always have a bottle of Sri racha sauce in the fridge as a back up.

    August 10, 2010 at 7:30 pm |
    • conch

      this man KNOWS what he's talking about!


      August 10, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  41. Angie

    XO sauce is the best!!

    August 10, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
  42. John Greene

    One word....PONZU! A citrus seasoned soy sauce which has taken sushi to a new level for me!

    August 10, 2010 at 7:06 pm |
    • denhay

      Yes, ponzu! Gyoza (potstickers) just isn't the same without it.

      August 10, 2010 at 7:20 pm |
  43. Kenneth

    I love Sriracha! I first discovered it in a Mongolian Grill when I was 10. I'd put more of the stuff on my whole plate after every bite. By the end, I'd be sweating bullets, but I soo love the stuff. I eat it on just about everything, but one of my favorites is garlic mashed potatoes. Slap some sriracha on that and let it sing!

    August 10, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  44. Desi

    Rooster Sauce ........... goes with every thing!

    August 10, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
    • Adriana

      LOL! It's great to know I'm not the only one with a rooster sauce. on. everything obsession. I went through a phase where I piled it on everything, but only the recipe with the garlic in it. The non-garlic one just wasn't the same.

      August 10, 2010 at 7:21 pm |
  45. Ian

    Sriracha. on. everything.

    but seriously, all of that sounds fantastic!

    August 10, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
    • Jon Galt

      Rooster FTW. In just about anything, on just about everything.

      August 10, 2010 at 7:40 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      From the Eatocracy photo stream, something you might enjoy: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eatocracy/4407322658/

      August 10, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
  46. fine_cuisine

    I was hoping to find the recipes for these souses here.... what's a point of just listing them? Can't taste them by reading the words.

    August 10, 2010 at 6:54 pm |
    • dsavio

      You should be able to find the recipes fairly easily with a little net research.

      Or you can just buy these sauces at your local Asian specialty foods market (or in some areas your regular supermarket might have many of them on an "ethnic foods" aisle.

      August 10, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
  47. 4U Mr.

    That black vinegar sounds very good, as does the Sambal Ijo. Ghod I love Ponzu sauce. Hungry now, too...need noodles!

    August 10, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
    • Kat Kinsman

      Black vinegar and double-black soy are madly good - and cheap, too. They just all another rung to the depth of flavor.

      August 10, 2010 at 7:32 pm |
  48. Kendra Bailey Morris

    Kecap manis: LOVE this stuff. Pure nectar. I'm also a fan of the good, ole Rooster (Sriracha). Great on everything from burgers to a steamy bowl of pho.

    August 10, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
    • Mika E.

      I completely agree with you on the sriracha red rooster sauce. Fantastic in pho and most anything else. Now I'll have to try the kecap manis.

      August 10, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
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