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Best sources to buy obscure ingredients online?

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Hi all!

I'm really trying to get into more ethnic cooking, and am hoping to try to cook more authentically, rather than just the Americanized versions of ethnic dishes.

I'm super excited, and can't wait to get started, but the problem is that the suburban area where I live is really lacking in any kind of ethnic markets or even fancy food stores, so I'm having trouble getting certain ingredients. The other day I tried making real ramen, but there was no miso paste to be found anywhere near my house, let alone even more obscure (to Americans) ingredients such as kombu or bonito.

So I'm thinking I need to buy a lot of ingredients online, and would love to know which websites you guys recommend. The options are overwhelming, and it's hard to know which sites are reliable and carry good quality products.

I am currently leaning toward certain Asian cuisines, mostly Korean, Thai, etc. but also may branch out into others eventually. So recommendations for sites that focus specifically on Asian ingredients are great, as well as maybe sites that have a more broad range of options.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. Boston area resources seem pretty good,I hope something has decent geography
    there is an HMart in Burlington and more than 1 Cmart http://www.gw-supermarket.com

    and a local write up on several
    http://www.boston.com ....18 February 2012 I typed the link and it won't load

    3 Replies
    1. re: lcool

      Unfortunately I live far enough outside the city that I only ever get into Boston every couple months at most. I have gotten some things in Chinatown on occasional outings, but online sources are a much better option.

      1. re: GardenFresh

        Ah.... that is too bad. Many Asian ingredients don't need refrigeration, so when you do come in town, use my list below to stock up [after you have diminished your online items.]

        1. re: GardenFresh

          smtucker is really right.I live less than 20 minutes from any of my favorite 3 and only shop,restock from the basics aisle once or twice a year and I use a lot of Asian products,almost all have a long shelf life.

      2. You are in Boston? You have plenty of stores available for you. For Japanese ingredients try the Miso Market in Porter Square or that store in Medford. For Japanese/Korean, the Reliable Market in Union Square. They have about 30 different misos and a full selection of bonito and kombu. For Chinese try the Hong Kong markets [several locations] and for Korean, one of the H-Marts.

        There is no Asian ingredient that I have not been able to source in the greater Boston area.

        But to answer your question, I don't have an online source since I just buy at one of these stores.

        1. These folks carry an amazing variety of spices from all parts of the world, super-fresh and high-quality.

          World Spice Merchants
          http://www.worldspice.com/

          I haven't bought from these people, but if I didn't live in a city where I can find a lot of this stuff, I would give them a try.

          Ethnic Grocer
          https://www.theethnicgrocer.com/

          1. Check out good old Amazon.com. I've purchased a number of ethnic ingredients via that route & have yet to be disappointed.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Bacardi1

              I was wondering about Amazon, good to know that the food stuff they sell is decent. Thanks!

              1. re: GardenFresh

                I live in Southern California, but there is a chain of Japanese Markets here that have an online presence. You might check out their e-store. http://www.marukaiestore.com If you are ordering items that don't need refrigeration I would assume the shipping fees will be lower. They have a number to call if you have questions. Their regular stores are usually membership (some don't require membership unless you are buying the specials) and the brick and mortars have a monthly magazine with recipes and weekly specials. http://www.marukai.com This site is in Japanese, so hit the english icon if you don't read Japanese.