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what products do you buy from the asian market...

and what do you use it for? (unusual too)Especially interested in Japanese, chinese, and korean products.

So many interesting things i want my palate to discover.

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  1. Gobo (burdock root) from the Japanese market. I use it to make kimpira, and I also add it to ganmodoki (fried egg/tofu patties with stuff mixed in). You have to remove the woodl=ky outer skin, then sliver it finely into shreds, then soak them for 20 minutes before using.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Akatonbo

      when i was at the mitsuwa in chicago, i noticed that the gobo from taiwan sold for condiderably less than that nihongo gobo (almost like unagi). why is that? assurance of quality?

      Could you explain a little bit more about ganmodoki...all i know is that it is sometimes used for oden. tia, akatonbo.

      1. re: kare_raisu

        I never saw gobo from Taiwan at Mitsuwa! I'll have to check it out. I wonder if it's cheaper to import from Taiwan?

        The ganmodoki I make are done this way: I drain 1 block (are they 12 oz?) of firm tofu and put it in a tea towel. I then wring it and squeeze it until I can't get any more water out of it. I put the tofu (now dry and crumbly) in the food processor with 1 egg, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp sugar. I blend it, then put it into a bowl and add 1 small grated carrot (peel it and use the big holes on your cheese grater) and a like amount of the slivered, soaked gobo (sometimes, if I have them, I substitute thinly sliced shiitakes for the gobo). Heat oil in a wok. Oil your hands and form a patty of the tofu mix that is about 1/4" thick and 2" in diameter. Drop into the hot oil and fry, turning it once or twice, until both sides are golden. Drain on a wire rack. Do them all that way, oiling your hands as required.

        To get your gobo slivers thin enough to use this way, peel the gobo, then score it down its length with a sharp knife, making long incisions at a close spacing all around its circumference. Then use a vegetable peeler to peel away long, thin slices. They should be paper thin and very narrow.

        I eat the ganmodoki heated in a broth (wash them under hot running water to get the oil off, before adding them to the broth). The broth is a bottled Japanese soup base to which I add a little soy sauce and mirin. Serve them in a bowl with a little of the soup broth. Umai!

    2. Everything! One of my hobbies is going to my local Asian markets and getting 3-4 items I have never tried before. My pantry is full of stuff I haven't gotten around to trying yet. Someone help me with this. It is becoming an addiction.

      2 Replies
      1. re: JMF

        you should pick three or four and write a post... "what to do with x,y,z?"

        1. re: JMF

          Try a book called The Asian Grocery Store Demystified by Linda Bladholm. Helps figure out what some odd things are, and what they are used for.

        2. Taro root
          Lychees (and most other fruits, that are less expensive, for that matter)
          Black sesame/macadamia/peanut/almond clusters
          Soy-sauce infused eggs
          Sao bing
          Green tea/red bean popsicles
          Mochi (dry; frozen and to be cooked-black-sesame-filled kind; and ice cream)

          2 Replies
          1. re: chica

            hey chica -- what are sao bing and what do you use the soy infused eggs and taro for?

            1. re: kare_raisu

              Sao bing is a flat bread, slightly pre-split and sold in packages of six. You can eat it alone, or stuff it with anything to your liking (e.g. meat, vegetables).

              Soy infused eggs are just that -- whole eggs, in their shell, saturated in soy sauce and other spices/ingredients for a long time. My grandmother used to make hers with tea (tsa yie dan). Cooking them at home results in the eggs inside their cracked shells; those at markets are already peeled and bare, but infused with the good savory taste.

              Taro root - we like to simply bake it and eat it raw - it's sweet, like yams. I've also had it with fried rice (along with meat and other vegetables). I'm thinking of using it to make my own ice cream, after being inspired by Fosselman's ice cream.

          2. Maybe I'm a novice asian cook, but I stick to basics:

            sesame oil
            soup base -- I use this with either soba or udon noodles to make soup (dilute with water)
            black bean sauce
            soy sauce
            soba noodles
            prepackaged udon noodles (when I say this, I mean they are like fresh pasta, as opposed to dry)
            oyster sauce
            frozen potstickers (gyoza)
            sesame seeds -- always cheaper at the asian market

            1. I lived in Japan for several years. This is where I primarily learned to cook, so most everything I know how to cook is Japanese/a staple in Japanese households.
              Also, it helps that my husband is Japanese and while he enjoys all food, it's nice to be able to make foods he grew up with for him.
              That said, I buy most of my condiments/dried foods at the Asian market, (or did when they were readily available, when I lived in Southern California.)
              I rarely buy meat/veggies there though, unless I need something specific. I go to the regular groceries or Whole Foods for those.

              1. Japanese curry packets for making Japanese style curry rice. Some Japanese supermarkets have prepackaged cuts of meat for this purpose.

                Nori for home made sushi rolls. Most Chinese supermarkets will have this (roasted nori sheets). Korean supermarkets tend to have versions that a a bit salted, better to eat with hot rice or congee than for sushi.

                Frozen unagi from China, if on sale this is quick and easy food for dinner. Ditto with various kinds of fermented soybean (natto) which is nice once in a while.

                I've had the original Yakult lactobacilli drink for years, this is great stuff. My local Chinese supermarket now carries this too.

                Chinese white pepper (the kind I get is a small round container with a green top, imported from Taiwan). A key ingredient for practically everything. Makes all food taste better.

                Dumpling/gyoza skin when I have time to make my own dumplings

                Chinese noodles and ho fun which can be used for stir fry or in soup

                Pork neck bone for Chinese soup

                thinly sliced black pork belly (Korean supermarkets) for tons of good dishes

                Chinese vegetables - A choy, Taiwan cabbage, zen choy, cantonese bak choy, yam leaf, gai lan, yau choy

                ginko nuts - fantastic with congee or stir fry

                shimeji, abalaone/oyster and enoki mushrooms - even Chinese supermarkets have these now

                organic soy milk (nijiya market version is tops)

                fresh tofu (organic silken or regular)

                organic miso paste (for soup or marinating fish for grilling)

                1. I've never technically had to "buy" this at my local Chinese supermarkets here in SoCal, because the fish monger will just give it to me for free ... but I usually get my fish guts at Chinese markets.

                  They're great as fertilizer for the garden.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    do you just mix it in straight into the soil? i think the pilgrims did this.

                    1. re: kare_raisu

                      Actually, I just give it to my gardener. But ever since using fish guts, my peaches, apricots and lemons have been bigger, juicier and sweeter.

                      Biggest problem to fertilizing this way is keeping out the cats and possum that like to feed on the guts ... but a litter cat litter around the trees usu. does the trick.

                  2. all kinds of noodles(Japanese flat noodles are great for chicken noodle soup)
                    sauces - soy, tonkatsu, black pepper, soup bases, yakiniku, korean BBQ
                    cold tea - green, buckwheat
                    baby bok choy
                    shiitake mushrooms
                    red bean ice cream
                    tea bags - much cheaper than in the regular markets
                    yogurt based drinks like Calpis
                    those wonderful fruit/jello cups, so much better than those in the regular markets
                    Spanish mackerel
                    Yakiniku meat
                    Fancl cosmetics
                    Japanese appliances like rice cookers
                    Japanese pastries
                    Japanese rice candy from Fugetsu-do
                    Mochi ice cream

                    1. Fresh rice noodles
                      keffir lime leaves
                      Thai basil
                      Thai chilis
                      various sauces
                      rice paper wrappers

                      1. First off I'm 1st generation born asian american.

                        Salt cured duck eggs
                        whole, head on fish
                        taro root (gabi)
                        Fish sauce
                        Sugar cane vinegar
                        daikon root
                        Barley tea
                        tapioca flour, rice flour
                        All those small, salted, dried fish in 1# bags
                        Salted shrimp paste
                        Pork- the selection in non asian markets is usually limited to chops and loin
                        whole shrimp
                        blue crabs (live)
                        shrimp chips
                        tamarind candy
                        melon gummies
                        the snack isle is my favo

                        on and on and on...

                        1. Noodles
                          Shrimp paste
                          Coconut milk
                          Soy sauce
                          Prawn crackers
                          Fish sauce
                          Sesame oil
                          Thai Basil
                          Wasabi (powder or paste)
                          Rice paper (for spring rolls)
                          Kaffir Lime leaves
                          Whole shrimp
                          Thai chilis
                          Oyster sauce

                          You know, the usual stuff!