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Jul 8, 2013 09:33 AM

Thai preserved radish & shell-on dried shrimp

I'm looking for a couple of ingredients for traditional pad Thai:

preserved radish or turnip (hua chai po khem หัวไชโป๊วเค็ม or hua chai po wan หัวไชโป้วหวาน)

shell-on dried shrimp (kung haeng กุ้งแห้ง)

The Richmond 99 Ranch has several brands of shrimp paste in oil (gach tôm xao dau) but if they have those other things I wasn't looking in the right place.

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  1. I think the radish is the same or similar to the chinese version of this, which is available in hermetically sealed plastic bags at 99 Ranch. Different brands vary in sweetness, saltiness and mince size.

    3 Replies
    1. re: twocents

      Where do they keep those at 99 Ranch? I looked all over the store but got tired and gave up before I found them.

      1. re: Robert Lauriston

        Sorry, I tried to remember where they are but it's like hyperbowler describes below. The ones you want are not refridgerated though. I am thinking the spice aisle is most likely.

        Regarding the dried shrimp I think 99 carries them along with the dried spices together with the other Mexican products near the end of one of the aisles by the fish.

        1. re: twocents

          Failing to find a different ingredient (ya cai), I browsed through a bunch of preserved things while at Marina Food in San Mateo last night. None had any Thai writing on them, but there were several Chinese varieties of preserved radish and turnip. Ingredients ranged from salt to salt+MSG etc. and the packages ranged from 4x5" foil pouches to plastic. Some were minced, others had finger sized pieces.

          If you don't find exactly what your recipe calls for, find out if the type you bought should be rinsed off or not before cooking.

          Do any markets in Oakland Chinatown have a good selection of preserved vegetables? You can find a variety scattered in SF Chinatown, but Sunset Supermarket on Irving makes for better one stop shopping of these.

    2. Mexican markets sell head-on, shell-on dried shrimp.

      1. Are you looking for the small or the large dried shrimp? I recently bought small shell on dried shrimp at Manila Oriental Market. They're the same type pictured here:

        If twocents is right about the Chinese and Thai preserved vegetables being the same, make sure to fully explore whatever market you go in. Preserved vegetables tend to be in several places of a market, sometimes even the identical package. For pre-packaged ones, they're either in the produce aisle on the shelves below the produce or left unrefrigerated in some random aisle. Otherwise, they're in refrigerated buckets near where you might get fresh tofu, etc.

        2 Replies
        1. re: hyperbowler

          "They’re small and scrawny. You pop a few in your mouth, chew on them, and swear you can’t detect any shrimp meat — just shells. They’re sometimes even dyed red. And since they still have eyes, they stare back at you."

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            The Chinese apothecaries (herbal stores) all have dried shrimp, but usually the bigger, quality ones. The smaller ones will be a lot less expensive however. Another good market to try is Long Hing @ 830 Intl Blvd/9th Av. It has one of the more extensive selections of Thai/Viet/Chinese foodstuffs that I've seen, with good prices to boot. Fun to browse for all this and more.

        2. I've found both (well, Chinese branded preserved radish and the dried shrimp I have bought have been of the larger sort) in the refrigerated section at the 99 Ranch, to the right of the open-top freezer section if you are facing the front of the store. In fact, both are near the back.

          I have a packet of Roza brand Thai pickled mustard that I haven't used yet. I don't recall where I got it, but it was likely one of the many markets on International or 12th St. between 14th Ave and 1st Ave. I might try Mithapheap Market first.

          1. Here's a pic of the radishes Manila market carries in the non-refrigerated aisle. They say "product of Thailand."