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Grocery List: Asian Grocery Store (Japanese)

May 18, 2011

A month ago I told you my favorite foods to buy at Mexican Grocery stores. Now I will start to cover my favorite Eastern foodstuffs. I seem to really be drawn to Asian cooking and cuisine for some reason, so going to an Asian grocery store is like going to a culinary playground for me. If I listed everything I wanted to in one post it would be WAY too much, so I’m breaking it down by country. This post will concentrate on Japanese goodies. I will take y’all to China, Korea, Vietnam & Thailand in subsequent posts. Now, I hate to play favorites, but I might be described as a Japanophile… something about that place (to which I’ve never been) and it’s culture really appeal to me… movies, toys, art, design, traditions… all of it. Oh, and the food, of course. Here are some of my regular buys…

Inarizushi skins. These are little pockets made of fried tofu and brined in a sweet liquid. For a fast snack or appetizer, you simply fill them with warm rice and eat! See this iron stef post for more details.

Miso paste. Mostly used to make miso soup (add water, tofu, onions, nori (dried seaweed sheets… see further down)). Miso is essentially fermented soy beans. You can also use it to flavor marinades and sauces.

Pickled stuff. My favorites included pickled garlic and pickled cucumbers, but you will also find pickled mushrooms, plums, bean sprouts… all kinds of stuff. Try ’em out! Serve as condiments or just little snackies with your meal or in you bento box.

Soba Noodles and dipping sauce. These buckwheat noodles are a surprisingly tasty meal when paired with sipping sauce. So simple… cook the noodles, drain and rinse with cold water and serve cold with a bowl of sauce to dip the noodles in. The sauce comes in both concentrated and unconcentrated varieties, so make sure you read carefully, as the bottles will be the same size. The concentrated will be really strongly flavored unless you add water. Check out this fantastic Just Hungry post for more information.

Big bags of sushi rice. Medium and short grained rice such as Botan Calrose are an absolute staple at my house. It’s pretty much the only rice I use for everything, except for the occasional Jasmine rice.

photo from ophile.

Furikake. This is a rice seasoning that comes in all sorts of flavors. They usually all have dried fish, seaweed, salt and sesame seeds, however. I love this idea from Just Bento (awesome blog!) for making your own furikake.

Nori. Roasted sheets of seaweed… use to roll your own sushi or cut into strips and add to miso soup.

Botan Rice candy! I never leave the Asian grocery store without a couple of these little boxes. The candy is a chewy sweet, somewhat citrusy tasting delight. So sticky that there is actually a thin rice paper between it and it’s plastic wrapper. You eat the rice film along with the candy… it just dissolves. My favorite thing about these candies, however, is the redonk stickers that come in every box. They are always a bit odd and always charming.

Pickled Daikon Radish. Crunchy, tangy and bright yellow. Slice to snack on or cut into strips to roll into sushi.

Mochi cakes. soft, chewy rice cakes filled with sweet bean paste. Light tasting and lovely little dessert item.

Muscat Gummies. There are several flavors of gummmies, and I like them all. I love the Muscat one’s most for the “Engrish” description on the bag:

Its translucent color so alluring and taste and aroma so gentle and mellow offer admiring feelings of a graceful lady.” Awww yeah.

Pretty Kitchenware. I have found some gorgeous sake sets, bowls and plates at Asian grocery stores.

So those are some of my favorite Japanese groceries… I know I missed some. What are yours?

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