When entering an Asian market, many people either buy everything that looks cool or they’re totally lost. While I encourage you to browse and have fun, there are also certain things that you should target while you’re there. Here’s my list of “must haves” from the Asian market…
Everyone uses garlic, and most of us are guilty of purchasing the minced kind in the jar. Save money by purchasing peeled garlic at the Asian market for about $2.60 a pound. If you’re not good with a knife, use your food processor to mince large amounts at one time.
This was an obvious answer, right? There are STACKS of rice at the Asian market. You can find every type from jasmine to short grain sushi rice. Buy your rice in bulk and purchase a storage container for your pantry. Rice can also be cooked in large amounts, cooled, and used for fried rice as needed.
Some of us spend $5 a day at Starbucks, while others spend that $5 on bubble tea. This trendy drink is easily made at home. There are two types of Boba - Tapioca Boba and Popping Boba. Tapioca Boba is added to milk tea. The dry tapioca pearls require some cooking, but they can be stored in simple syrup for several days. Popping Boba pearls can be used as-is. They are flavored and should be added to juice, smoothies, or sorbet.
Noodles are an essential part of Asian Culture. If you’re into pasta, try expanding your noodle vocabulary. Chow Mein, Soba, and Rice noodles are packaged dry. Wonton and Udon noodles are refrigerated. They’re all reasonable priced and quick to cook.
Some might say this should be categorized as things you don’t need. However, as a Chef, I find some of the best kitchen tools at the Asian markets. Vegetable peelers and graters are a sure find. Anything to make preparing vegetables easier, they have! Some larger items worth purchasing are steam baskets and plate-wear. You can purchase by the piece or create a matching set for small and large families.
Tropical Fruits and Unique Vegetables
Regular markets will charge an arm and a leg for specialty produce. Asian markets display seasonal produce that won’t break the bank. Some unique fruits I’ve seen are jackfruit, pomelos, and rambutan. Special vegetables include long beans, Thai eggplants, and Chinese celery.