Ever get to the middle of a recipe and realize that your cupboard is bare of an essential ingredient? This can be particularly vexing when the item is not one easily found in your local market, such as an ethnic product like Thai fish sauce. Here are a few substitutions you can create using staples from your own pantry in a pinch:
Fish Sauce. To create your own fish sauce, commonly used in Asian recipes, you can mix 1 tablespoon of soy sauce with one finely minced anchovy fillet.
Mirin. To replace 2 tablespoons of this sweet Japanese rice wine, substitute an equal amount of white wine or sake and then add 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Panko. More and more recipes seem to call for these Japanese bread crumbs, which you can fake by running chunks of bread through the shredding disk of a food processor, then baking them on a cookie sheet in a 300-degree oven for about 6 minutes until dry but not toasted (shake the cookie sheet midway through).
Tahini. To replicate this sesame paste, grind up sesame seeds in a blender with just enough peanut or vegetable oil to make a fairly smooth mixture. Add sesame oil to taste (about 1 teaspoon).
Sources: Associated Press and Cook’s Illustrated magazine.