Video: My Asian Supermarket Adventure

by Sarah TheHealthyHomeEconomist January 26, 2011

Asian Supermarket Well, I’m back at it again.

Getting thrown out of a conventional supermarket wasn’t enough fun for me, so this time, I’m going shopping at my favorite Asian supermarket with camera in tow.

What interesting and traditional foods can we find here?

If you haven’t ever shopped at an Asian grocery before, you must find one in your local area right away. Not only is it an incredibly fun and interesting experience (be sure to take the kids along), but you will find foods here that you cannot find anywhere else.

What foods do you like to buy at an Asian market?

* By the way, I need to come clean. The salted duck eggs I bought in the video .. they were terrible! Big strike-out on that purchase.

Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist.com

Picture Credit

* This post is shared at Real Food Wednesday!

 

Comments (36)

  1. Sarah,
    So thankful for your work on health info. I have always been told not to buy young coconuts unless they are organic because there is a chemical spray that is used on them that is very toxic. Have you heard of this? Thanks, Rachel

    Reply
  2. Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Rachel, my understanding is that coconuts are a low to no spray crop. If you are concerned about your source, you can simply soak them in a basin of water with 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide for about 20 minutes to remove whatever residue might be there before opening them to get the juice out.

    Reply
    • my understanding is that the issue with most young green coconuts is not pesticides, it’s formaldehyde that’s been used to preserve them. i guess they go brown really quickly otherwise…the argument is that little to none actually leeches into the water/meat, and i still buy them…but i am just sort of crossing my fingers and hoping. i’d love to know for sure.

      Reply
      • That’s exactly the problem with young coconuts. If they’re purchased stateside, they’ve almost always been dipped in formaldehyde to preserve their color. YUCK! I don’t like to chance it.

        Reply
        • I have had tons of coconut juice fresh from young coconuts, and it is true, once you cut it it turns brown. I do wonder how they can keep them so white here?!

          Reply
          • http://www.rawguru.com/i45.html

            At the above link is an interview. Question #3 and answer are below. It made me stop and think twice about running right out to get a “nice, white, diamond-shaped coconut!”

            3. What are some of the main differences between your organic Thai coconuts and the standard non organic young coconut.

            There are two main differences, one is in the growing and the other is in the processing. First the coco’s I send are grown without chemicals and second they are are processed without any chemical dips.

            Note: If the young coconut you are consuming is white it is dipped in chemicals!!! Not just once but many times. I’ve seen the process myself. The workers wear protective clothing when they process the coconuts. They wear heavy aprons and heavy gloves. They use long poles with wire baskets on the end to remove the coconuts from the dips so they do not touch them.

            A natural coconut husk turns brown within minutes of husking so when the conventional processing takes place the coconut is immediately dipped in their chemical(s) of choice as soon as the husk is removed, then the coconut is sent to the processing plant where it is polished or trimmed and dipped again in their chemical(s) of choice. The last dip (this makes 3 dips total) is when the coconut is ready for packing, it is dipped again then wrapped for transport. It is a sad process to watch and the workers themselves try to touch the cocos as little as possible, if at all.

            I know many believe the young Thai coconuts they eat in Raw food restaurants are good for them but trust me they are not! Also a lot of their food contains the coconut water from treated coconuts. I also know many believe a certain test that was done came back pure, but it did not. I saw the test results myself and there were trace amounts of formaldehyde in that test in the fine print. If you believe trace amounts are not harmful to you that is your choice but believe me it like a girl saying she is a little bit pregnant it just cannot be that way. It is so, or it is not. All white young Thai coconuts are treated with dips of various chemicals before transport and most, if not all are grown with chemical fertilizers with hormones added for good measure. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

            The soft eye of the coconut is very sensitive and very soft. If a coconut is dipped the chemicals they will enter the coconut through the soft eye. No doubt about it. The soft eye is mothers natures way for the coconut to reproduce, it is where the sprout grows out from to make a new tree and it is soft enough for the sprout to exit and grow into a tree.

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  4. Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
    Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist January 26, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Hi Nancy, I did not get kicked out .. probably because most of what I was saying was positive as I showed you what I typically buy there (although there is certainly a lot of junk in an Asian supermarket – don’t be fooled!) as opposed to my trip through a conventional supermarket where I was dissing everything left and right!

    Reply
  5. I have always wondered about Asian markets and the like but have been intimidated by the unknown. Thank you! I may try to find one within reasonable traveling distance and venture in!

    Reply
  6. This was so educational. Thanks. There is an Asian food store about 20 minutes away. Do you think that it is safe to buy chicken feet there? This is the only place in my area that has them.

    Reply
  7. I would love to shop an Asian market, but it is nearly impossible to find things that my peanut/nut allergic child can eat at a place like that.

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist January 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      Hi Linda, if you don’t buy any of the processed foods, then there is plenty of value. What about the coconut products, fermented fish sauce, duck/quail eggs, coconut sugar etc that I cover in the video? None of that would affect someone with a peanut allergy (coconuts are not nuts, by the way, they are a type of fruit).

      Reply
  8. I found chicken feet and whole chickens (with heads) at my asian market. I was excited to make broth with them. But, they couldn’t tell me where they came from exactly, ‘oh, somewhere north’. So I didn’t buy them. They also have a lot of fish. I’ll have to make a trip back and see what I find this time. I haven’t been in a year or so.
    tara\’s last post: Bone Broth an amazing healer

    Reply
  9. Awesome stuff, Sarah. I used to have a great market in my area but it closed.. :( I have to find another. I remember reading once about small, salted, dried fish someone ate as a snack – they might have been anchovies.. or sardines? Again, found at an Asian store.
    Quick note about veggies: if you go into an Asian market for the first time, buy veggies sparingly. My mom and I bought a lot one time and it went bad/rotted very quickly. We wound up wasting a lot of money. Once you see the produce is fine, then by all means take advantage!

    Reply
  10. How fun! We actually have an Asian market not too far away, and they do have a ton of interesting things. Like tanks of live fish, whole ducks (with heads- eek!) and other novel items. I haven’t been in a while, so your video has encouraged me to return sometime soon. We also have a Mexican grocery store and they too have a ton of stuff not at the conventional grocery store. It was so exciting for me to discover the cool stuff they have especially in light of working toward eating more whole/real foods.

    By the way, I’m a new reader, and I love your blog! It’s so enlightening! :)

    Reply
  11. Gotta check one out! There are a lot of Indian supermarkets in our area…do you think there’d be some crossover on items? Love discovering new stuff!

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist January 26, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      Oh, so COOL! An Indian grocery! Yes .. there would be some great finds in there. Go check it out for sure. You could probably get some goat bones there for making goat stock. YUMMY! I love getting curried goat when I go to Indian restaurants.

      Reply
    • I have an Indian market on my street and I always get coconut meat there (frozen), rapadura (only $3.49 for 2 pounds!! – the health food store stuff is way more expensive), mangos when they are in season, bazmati rice and veggies for very good prices!

      Reply
  12. Can you explain how to find kelp flakes that you put in your red snapper stock? I’m not really sure what I’m looking for. I’m assuming it would be at an asian grocery? Also how do you feel about mung bean sprouts?

    Reply
  13. I have a great Asian food market near me; it is owned by Indochinese merchants, and the food is diverse and awesome. Yes, you do have to look at labels,but this is true anywhere.
    Diann\’s last post: Seaweed

    Reply
  14. Hi Sarah,

    interesting video. I have a couple of asian stores in the area I live. One thing I learned is that you have to be VERY CAREFUL. I would say 80% of the food there is packaged and loaded with MSG and nasty chemicals. I would never buy anything in an asian supermarket unless it has a list of ingredients. Even baby snacks are full of MSG.
    Olga

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist January 26, 2011 at 6:45 pm

      Very true Olga. Most of it is pure trash. But it is worth the trip to find the gems that can’t be obtained anywhere else.

      Reply
  15. Hi Sarah
    I live in Melbourne (Australia) so am blessed to have many asian/indian/middle eastern grocers minutes away. I love trying all the unusual things but my latest purchase was agar-agar, which is a type of seaweed that acts like a gelatin. It is used to make a firm jelly, traditionally coconut using the milk or cream, yummy!

    Reply
  16. Hi Sarah,
    I am so glad that you mentioned the seaweed salad toward the end of your video. I absolutley ADORE seaweed salad, but can’t find it without MSG. I would love to simply make it at home but I can’t determine what type of seaweed to use. Any ideas or suggestions?
    THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    Reply
  17. I always go there for the small dried fishies! You can use them to make a few dishes that are good and you are eating the whole little fish so you get all of the good stuff!

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist January 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm

      Good point, BRB. I noticed some small, dried shrimp in the refrigerated section during my video outing and thought that they would be very useful for making fermented shrimp paste a sacred food in at least one traditional culture due to its incredible nutrient density.

      Reply
  18. Hi Sarah! LOVE this video blog!

    About those salted duck eggs – I hope you didn’t eat them straight as a snack! They’re not meant to be! :) We Chinese eat them with plain rice porridge (made with white rice) for breakfast – in tiny bitefuls!!! It’s absolutely comfort food for me! :) Next you should try ‘Thousand Year Old Eggs’! Also eaten with porridge. :)

    I’m sure you already know this, but I have to mention for your readers – ALWAYS CHECK EXPIRATION DATES when shopping at Oriental groceries!!! More than a couple of times I have purchased some items only to find they are expired (after I’m home of course!)

    Have you tried Oceanic in downtown yet? There is also a big one close to the University. That one has more tanks with lots of more live seafood and shellfish. I’m going to check out Din Ho now that you mentioned it. Thanks!!! :)

    Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
      Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist February 1, 2011 at 9:49 pm

      We did try to eat them straight as a snack. Will know better next time. LOL

      Haven’t been to Oceanic yet but I’ve heard great things about it.

      Reply
  19. I just found your website and am loving your blog!! It’s fantastic… I just made some coconut milk kefir with some grains and it was delicious… my new favourite breakfast!

    A few comments:
    Have you ever tried Natto (fermented soybeans)? It’s doing wonders on my gut and they sell most without MSG and sugar. Also look at the coconut isle because there’s a brand that sells about a litre of coconut milk with no preservatives at all for about $3.50 CAD. I think the brand is Arroy?

    Thanks again!

    Reply
    • Yes, I’m in Canada too and Arroy is a very common brand. It seems fine too, with nothing added and at a great price :) You will LOVE this blog – tons of information, a valuable resource!

      Reply
  20. I stopped at a large asian market in Edmonds, WA today. I was looking for fish sauce to make ketchup. I looked at probably 15 different brands and could not find a single ONE that didn’t have either MSG, sugar or both!! Now what should I do? Can you mail order it from somewhere? I really want to find some, to make healthy ketchup! I’d appreciate any advice you might have. I’ve been learning a lot from your blog. It is so encouraging to see someone else caring about what they put in their body! Keep up the good work!
    Sarah

    Reply

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