I discover many interesting foods at the 3 Asian markets I frequent (1 each of Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese).
From the Japanese market I get short grain sushi rice. I even made risotto with it. Perfect! Another Japanese specialty (via Korea) is menteiko, cured pollock roe sacks (salty and spicy...a great snack or garnish for other things).
My Chinese market is huge and has a seafood section where you can find incredibly cheap lobsters, Dungeness crabs, cockles, and sometime Maryland blue crabs. It also has an extensive produce section. Things I regularly buy there: preserved mustard tuber (salty and sour and an excellent addition in moderation to a ramen noodle soup); dried shiitake mushrooms (cheap, cheap, cheap); oyster mushrooms; enoki mushrooms; baby bok choy; Chingkiang vinegar; an excellent cooking wine; dried bamboo pith (again a great garnish for a stirfry or soup); barbequed pork (included entire hog heads); frozen ducks at a bargain.
My latest discovery came at the Vietnamese place. It has the most incredible selection of seafood, a good deal of it frozen. I bought frozen quail eggs and have used them in soup both scrambled and poached. All you have to do is put them in a bowl of hot tap water for 4 minutes and then crack them. I'm screwing my courage to the sticking point to try the frozen whitebait I got recently. They are thin and only about 1 1/2" long. And yes they are white. I plan to coat them with tempura batter and shallow fry them as fritters. You can actually find bullfrogs (live) and the stinky cheese fruit called durian.
I'm broadening my horizons in the same way I would hope my readers try to do. What readers you say? Well, sooner or later somebody has to find this blog.
For a free excerpt of my book, “A Year of Food,” in which I opine, report, cook, muse and philosophize about everything that passed my lips for an entire year, write to me at: email@example.com.
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