This morning I headed out early to hit up a few of my favorite small Asian markets. Don’t get me wrong, I love my H-Mart, Uwajimaya and 99 Ranch, but I frequent the smaller ones just as much. I enjoy how small they are, how everything is so basic and raw. English is not the predominant language spoken and a lot of the items you have to search for the English label that is slapped on over the original label, which is definitely not in English. The variety may not rival that of the larger stores, but they carry pretty much everything you would need for your day to day.
Today I was on the hunt for some galangal, palm sugar, coconut milk and a young coconut. As usual, I came home with a few extra items…
Young coconuts for my coconut ice cream that I plan to make this week.
I did pick up some fresh galangal, however, the store owner said she didn’t get any in yet so all they had were a few pieces. She was very kind and said “follow mama, I’ll show you dried”. I didn’t even know they had this, so I must admit I was a little giddy. I’m going to make one pot of seafood tom kha with fresh and one with dried to see if there’s a difference.
Palm sugar is a fun little item. It’s sweet and fragrant, different from the white sugar in most homes. I use it in my Thai dishes mostly, but I have used it for fun in others.
Pink Hawaiian salt, so much cheaper in the Asian markets. The sweetened condensed milk and water chestnuts were just items I needed and like to have on hand in my pantry.
The noodle selections are so much fun!! Yes, I am that geeky. When I made my pad Thai the other night I didn’t have the correct noodles so I used basically the same noodle, but a different size.
Coconut milk, there are a zillion different brands of it but this is my favorite. It’s 100% coconut milk, nothing else. The downside of this brand, sometimes it can be difficult to find (you can buy it online also) so when I do I buy a lot. Not pictured is the organic coconut milk I purchased at the first store just in case I didn’t find this. Guess I have extra!!
Speaking of coconut milk, this is one of the items I never buy at the typical “normal” store. First, they usually don’t have the brand I like and second I am amazed at how expensive it is.
I didn’t pick up many vegetables since I had quite a bit already. I needed cilantro and green onions for the menudo tonight, the galangal (front center) is for my soup, baby pak choi for random dishes that I throw it in and a grapefruit. Not pictured is the frozen lemongrass for the soup.
I still need to grab some ginger, totally forgot but that’s not a biggie since I’m not using it in any of the dishes I’m making in the next few days. Ginger is another item I never buy at the “normal” grocery store. I once sent my hubs to the store to buy some and he came back with some so so looking ginger, but when he told me he had paid 4.99 per pound I almost died.
The meat I picked up were beef feet, ribs for kalbi, scalded tripe, and not pictured is the squid tubes. The feet and tripe are for the menudo and the squid tubes will go into my fish cakes later this week.
Don’t be frightened of the little Asian stores (or the big ones). Go in there, check stuff out, get inspired to make food that is maybe not on your normal menu. Now I need to stir my simmering beef feet and tripe…until next time!!