Monday, May 17, 2010

The Wonders of the Asian Grocery Store

Back in April, I made Chinese Dumplings for our parish's first International Potluck Dinner.  I hadn't been to our local Asian market in ages, and decided to take my camera so I could give you a tour. 

When you walk into most ethnic markets (okay...ANY ethnic market), you will find they all have a very distinct aroma.  I say, "aroma," you might say, "smell."  I happen to love the smell of an Asian market.  I remember going shopping with my mother, and begging her to buy some preserved, sugared plums for me.   But in any case, if you can get past that "aroma"...you will open yourself up to a whole world of ingredients, spices, condiments, produce, and dry goods, not to mention things you never thought you could get in a grocery store. 

Ready? 

All right, here we go!

It was raining the day I went, but here's a shot outside.  I'd like to introduce to you to the Hong Kong Food Market. 

Right as you go in, you'll see piles of dry goods in boxes.  No fancy display shelves here! 

Bear to the right, and we have the produce section.  Some things you'll recognize, and others will seem strange and mysterious.  But yes...it's all edible (so I've been told). 

Need an obscene amount of fresh ginger?  You got it.  And did you see the price?  The whole package is only $1.61!  (No...they don't sell itty bitty pieces here, sorry). 

How about a BIG bunch of fresh dill?  I didn't know they sold dill here...but it's only 88 cents!  What a deal!

Continuing on with the tour...just past the produce is the eggs and miso paste.  Don't ask me why there's a neon Bud Light sign over the shelves...I have no idea.  But I bet it looks good at night!

Need a hammock?   Yep, they sell 'em here too!  Or, if you get tired while shopping, you can climb up, and take a siesta with the snap peas. 

Here's the case with all different kinds of tofu, spreadable cheese, butter, and margarine.  Sadly, no one in our household will eat tofu, instead of me.  But I haven't tried serving it deep fried...maybe I should.  Anything deep-fried is good, right?
 
Some of my favorite snacks...sesame crackers, fried wasabi peas, and shrimp chips. 


Next time you have a cold, get some wasabi peas...they'll clear your sinuses right out.  ;-)

Hong Kong Market sells ordinary things...like canned beans and chicken broth.

And some not so ordinary things, like brined lotus root.  I have no idea how one would use these. 

Let's check out some of the proteins.  Want to roast a duck for your next family gathering? 

If you don't want to make it yourself, you can have one to go, complete with the head and neck.  These are what you know as Peking ducks.  That would make a great presentation on the table, don't you think?

I counted no less that 8 different sizes of fresh shrimp, all raw, head-on and shell-on.  That's the way to buy shrimp people.  Precooked shrimp is like rubber (in my opinion anyway). 

Fish...so many kinds, I couldn't even begin to tell you.  Most of them were whole. 

And look...live lobsters, and MORE fish.  Some of those guys were big...really big. 

Last stop...anything you need to serve Asian food.  Bowls, plates, chopsticks, rice cookers, woks... it's paradise! 

I bought this beautiful bowl to put soy sauce in...I couldn't resist. 

Well, there you have it folks...real, honest to goodness Asian grocery.  I spotted a good number of Caucasians in the store that day...and a few stopped to ask me questions.  I tried to tell them I was no expert, but did recommend one particular product over another.  As a general rule of thumb, I try to buy things produced overseas, instead of here in the United States.  Sometimes that's not an option, but I believe certain things are better when they are made in their country of origin. 

I hope you venture out and visit the local ethnic groceries in your area.  Trust me...they're out there...and you never know what you'll find!

God bless your table tonight!

1 comment:

Milehimama said...

So glad you posted this! The Asian market we used to go to (Ko-Mart) closed down and I was looking for a new one!