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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. And in many parts of the country, celebrations and cultural events take place to commemorate and honor people from all over Asia—as well as Hawaiian natives.
No celebration would be complete without recognizing the rich culinary traditions within AAPI communities. From kitchen products that make cooking easier to a smattering of direct-to-consumer spices and condiments, here are AAPI-owned food brands we love.
1. Our Place
Co-founded by Shiza Shahid, direct-to-consumer cookware and dinnerware brand Our Place is best known for its multitasking Always Pan. We tried this pan and like that it excelled at tackling multiple stovetop cooking tasks, such as frying eggs and making one-pot pasta. The only caveat is this gorgeous pan isn’t oven-safe.
This pantry staple goes in pretty much everything we cook. However, the importance of what goes into making olive oil is oftentimes ignored, which is why founder Aishwarya Iyer decided to produce high quality olive oil using olives harvested from heirloom trees in California.
In addition to the best-selling Alive and Awake oils, Brightland regularly releases fun flavors such as the garlic-forward Rosette. Our editor tried it and confirmed: “This definitely tastes like garlic, but it's not too overpowering and would be great with a rustic loaf of bread, roasted potatoes, or grilled steak.”
3. Hast Knives
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance but high-performing knife, this award-winning carbon steel knife should be on your radar. We tried each knife in a four-piece knife set, chopping up vegetables, cutting through chicken bones, deboning a whole fish, and mincing herbs. Though it’s a bit pricey, we’re impressed by its build quality that we think will last a long time.
Miss traveling? This snack subscription can virtually take you on a trip to Japan. Each box includes an assortment of 20 to 25 Japanese snacks, candies, and a tea pairing, plus a booklet that details the origin and flavor profile of each product. There’s a theme for every month, which intends to celebrate a region, a festival, or a cultural phenomenon—like Mochi Madness for March and Moon Festival for September.
Products from this minimalist cookware brand have constantly impressed us at Reviewed. From the soft-edge spatula to the cutting board made from recycled BPA-free plastic, founders Eunice Byun and Dave Nguyen have incorporated their vision for Material—a brand that “designs modern kitchenware for home cooks like us”—into every item.
6. Diaspora Co.
If you’re looking for high quality spices to add to your pantry, you may want to consider Diaspora Co. Our editor loves it so much that she finds herself craving “the deep, floral earthiness of the Pragati Tumeric at least once a week.” She’ll whip up a batch of one-pot tumeric coconut rice or a simple bowl of popcorn, covered in butter and heavily sprinkled with this golden spice.
This online Asian grocery delivery service can save you trips to your local H-Mart. Founder Andrea Xu is a self-proclaimed third-culture kid, having grown up in Spain and now living in New York. Her passion for food and culture began in her early childhood as her parents ran a Chinese restaurant in Spain.
Frustrated by limited choices at her local markets, she started Umamicart, an online Asian grocer that offers a curated and comprehensive selection of timeless staples and new, distinctly Asian American products and ingredients, delivered conveniently to customers’ doorstep. Currently, Umamicart only delivers to the U.S. Northeast, but its delivery area is expanding rapidly.
8. Crave Natural
Crave Natural makes instant oatmeals that can be adapted to everyone’s palette by adding ingredients traditionally seen in Asian cooking, such as osmanthus flowers (my favorite scent of all time!) and adzuki beans. This high-protein, high-fiber, and low sugar oatmeal is vegan and gluten-free, ideal for people with dietary preferences or restrictions.
After a few months of ambitious quarantine meals, the cooking fatigue finally hit me—until I tried these popular sauce kits that were popping up on my social feed. Thanks to Vietnamese-American sisters Vanessa and Kim Pham’s brilliant invention, I was able to not only cook delicious meals easily, but also explore dishes that I’d never attempted before. My favorites are the Vietnamese Lemongrass BBQ and the Filipino Sisig starter kits, which are both aromatic and rich in flavor.
10. Fly by Jing
You may have heard about the chili crisp craze, but did you know that this condiment pairs extraordinarily well with vanilla ice cream? Inspired by the incredible Sichuan cuisine of her hometown Chengdu, Chinese-American Jing Gao founded the company to introduce more people to the magic of chili crisp. If you love it as much as we do, sign up for a subscription to get your crisp delivered monthly.
11. Dang Foods
For those who love Southeast Asian flavors, these Thai street food-inspired snacks won’t disappoint. Founded by Thai-American Vincent Kitirattragarn, Dang Foods aims to bring the food of Kitirattragarn’s childhood to the masses.
From coconut and rice chips to snack bars, Dang has a variety of munchies made from ingredients from Thailand. As a certified B Corp, Dang meets rigorous environmental and public transparency standards, sourcing all the coconuts from their family farm in Thailand.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.