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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Asian Cooking / Lack of Asian ingredients in many areas of US
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    Lack of Asian ingredients in many areas of US

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    Sun May 19, 2013 5:24 pm Groupie
    We have recently drove cross country from California to New York and spent about a month in upstate New York. In New York I had a full use of a very nice kitchen and did cooking most days and entertaining every 3-4 days a week. My cooking was mostly Japanese to feed some of my relatives who are missing eating Japanese foods and their friends.

    I knew I lived in one of the most accessible area for Japanese food items. Also for Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian. I have 3 fairly large Japanese markets nearby where I can purchase all my cooking needs including fantastic produce and seafood. Fish selection is very good. Not as good as Japan, of course, but for US, very good.

    Unfortunately, this is not so in most parts of US and I realize it is a chore to cook many Asian foods with limited ingredients. If you can find tofu, it's the crappy supermarket kind that has no taste. Having lived this way for a month, I have a new sense of what many of posters here are going through. If I can help you with substitution for Asian ingredients esp Japanese, Korean, Chinese, or Thai, please ask here.
    Sun May 19, 2013 5:54 pm Groupie
    Let me share one photo of my Japanese cooking effort in my temporary home in New York. I made fried shrimp and oysters with shredded cabbage with store bought tonkatsu sauce I found in a small Korean store, Japanese style grilled beef (I had to use New York and marinated), asparagus with coddled eggs and soy sauce, cucumber and kamaboko sunomono or salad (I found kamaboko in a Korean market but had to use apple cider vinegar instead of Japanese rice vinegar.

    Sun May 19, 2013 5:58 pm Groupie
    Here is another one I made using California grown Japanese rice - okayu or rice congee. Okayu is thicker than Chinese congee. It is normally dressed with few items on top. I grilled farmed salmon since wild caught salmon was very expensive in NY with nori and pickled ume. I served this instead of regular cooked rice. Very satisfying meal

    Sun May 19, 2013 8:23 pm Groupie
    Hello Nona,

    Welcome to New York State.... where were you in upstate NY? it is a big state. And I can really understand how hard it might be for many people (and around the USA) to get specialized Asian ingredients. However, they can drive to a big city and stock up on basics for 6 months or order on line. Or improvise a little on ingredients that might be a fairly good substitute.

    I live in Metro New York City so have all sorts of Asian supermarkets and small groceries to go to.... About 15 or so miles north of NYC (lower Westchester) there is a very big Korean/Japanese? mega supermarket (K-mart... which I believe is also in California). However, I most often go to Chinatown in lower Manhattan.

    One of my all time favorite dishes/meal is Congee/Jook (rice porridge) and one restaurant I go to makes a great San Pan (with cuttle fish, pieces of fish, and other ingredients). My Japanese rice cooker (Zorjirushi) does a great job in making Congee (but not as good as made on a stove). Anyway, there is a small local take-out Chinese place (it seems every block in NYC as a Chinese take-out) and the cook did not know about Congee/Jook. That the region in China southwestern? he comes from does not make/eat Congee! I was so surprised since I thought Congee/Jook was eaten in many Asian countries and especially in China, Korea, Japan... and a typical, common dish. Any comments...

    Mon May 20, 2013 2:36 pm Groupie
    Hi Skipper/Sy! Nice to hear from you again.

    I was in Ithaca NY to visit my nephews and niece. I had an use of my brother's home overlooking the lake since they live in MD. The grocery shopping choice was limited for me in Ithaca. Closest green grocer type was Wegman's but I found their selection not as good as what I find locally near me. Not much of Asian ingredients there either and fish selection was disappointing for me. I found some Asian dry goods in a small Korean market and that was good for temporary need.

    For me, fish and seafood selection has to be plentiful and fresh and that was one of my biggest complaint in Ithaca area. I was surprised by the high cost of fish too. The vegetables were def. more expensive than what I can find in California. Some much, much more expensive.

    I love okayu or congee too. I can see why some parts of China do not eat congee since rice is hardly eaten in parts of China. My father's current wife comes from noodle eating area and never eats rice. She mostly eats noodle and hot peppers.

    I would love to spend some time in NYC soon. Although I've been at the airport and cruised out of Redhook, I've not spent time in NYC. I do like the Ithaca area a lot though for it's beauty and peacefulness.
    Tue May 21, 2013 2:14 pm
    Forum Host
    I have a large Japanese and a large Korean market reasonably close to me, also a smaller Korean market that has the best English labels on the shelves of any of them! My local grocery stores carry quite wide assortment of fresh Asian vegetables, so I'm pretty lucky in that regard. I think I've found most things I need locally. I live west of Chicago.
    Tue May 21, 2013 8:59 pm Groupie
    What is the name of the Japanese market nearby Duonyte? Does it have sashimi grade fish? I normally don't like to purchase sashimi grade fish in other non-Japanese markets.
    Tue May 21, 2013 10:08 pm Groupie
    Hello Nona,

    Great post and informative. My nephew and niece graduated from Ithaca college so I know the area a little, (It is a college town, Cornell). It is very beautiful and especially in the fall, the lake and several impressive waterfalls.

    But not so impressive is the selection of foods in Ithaca, as you experienced. I love Wegman's which is in areas within NY State but not near NYC (the nearest one is about 60+ miles away in Western New Jersey). It is a big supermarket and has many products, but as you can see limited in Asian produce. And not having a big selection of fish... to far from the ocean??? We are lucky to live in a big city, like San Francisco or New York City or Chicago. BTW, our Asian vegetables comes from New Jersey and in winter from Florida.. and a big selection.
    Some day when you visit NYC, I can take you around and to Chinatown... And I am famous for walking tours of Manhattan (for my visiting friends).

    I was shocked to read that in parts of China people hardly eat rice???! wow, but eat noodles instead... I am still rubbing my eyes in disbelief.
    I never knew!!! icon_redface.gif

    Aside- When my brother visited San Francisco he could not find many restaurants from walking on the street(side walk), just many gift shops. Here in NYC's Chinatown and walking on the street and say one block, there can be 7-10 Chinese restaurants (and of course some Vietnamese,, few Japanese or Korean ones, in Chinatown). So what is the story about San Francisco having few restaurant street side? Even Chicago and Boston have restaurant accessed from the street, sidewalk side. ( I bet I had asked you this before, but forgot now??)

    Tue May 21, 2013 10:28 pm Groupie
    I think we are a little spoiled in urban California. So many varied cuisines and ingredients readily available. In rural CA, you might as well be in the midwest - much more limited choices. The internet is a great resource for seasonings and sauces (thank you, Amazon) but not much use for fresh ingredients, like fish or vegetables.
    Tue May 21, 2013 10:55 pm
    Forum Host
    Rinshinomori wrote:
    What is the name of the Japanese market nearby Duonyte? Does it have sashimi grade fish? I normally don't like to purchase sashimi grade fish in other non-Japanese markets.

    Mitsuwa, and yes, it does carry sashimi-grade fish. A Japanese friend told me there is a market not far from it that she prefers, but I have not been to that one yet.

    My worst year in the Midwest was when I lived in Ohio for a year of graduate work. They did not know what to do with any seafood, other than fried shrimp and even that was not good. Mother used to by fish at the wharf in Santa Monica, so this was a real shock for me. I gave up and ate steak for most of the year.
    Leggy Peggy
    Wed May 22, 2013 7:14 am Groupie
    Have been out-of-town so missed this thread until now.

    Nona, I nearly fainted to read that you couldn't buy Japanese rice vinegar
    in Ithaca. I think we can buy it most places in Australia—even the outback.

    But it serves to remind us of the struggles members can face
    when they try to duplicate certain recipes or participate in certain games.
    Wed May 22, 2013 8:46 pm Groupie
    Ha, ha this thread is all about being shocked in learning that in parts of China they eat little rice,but noodles. In Ithaca it is hard to find Japanese Rice Vinegar, with Leggy Peggy almost fainting and her head hitting the keyboard!

    And another shock is that I Googled Wegmans tonight and learned that they have over 75 stores in MA, NJ, NY, VA, PA... shocked I tell you shocked (I thought before many 10 at best).

    Then within Wegman's website I searched Asian Foods and only came up with 8 packaged items??? Shocked again. However, I am sure the shelfs are stocked with soy sauce and other typical canned/bottled goods. But then again the main problem is getting fresh produce like fish. BTW, the Ithaca location had a Sushi Bar/Area??? but how good can the fish be?

    So am on done writing trivia stuff... I guess so icon_redface.gif

    Leggy Peggy
    Thu May 23, 2013 5:42 am Groupie
    You're a character Sy, Maybe Nona should rename this thread --
    Shocking lack of Asian ingredients in many areas of US

    But I'm interested in the fresh fish and seafood. Coming from Nebraska, I
    only got to know fresh seafood through my dad who was a pilot and a foodie.
    He'd fly somewhere such as New Orleans and come home with a bucket of
    prawns. Otherwise we had tinned tuna, salmon and such.

    But being inland doesn't mean fresh is impossible. One of the nicest prawn
    dishes I've ever had was in Broken Hill, which is almost smack in the
    middle of Australia.
    Thu May 23, 2013 3:33 pm Groupie
    yeah, Wegman's did have packaged sushi - I would never buy that but I would never buy anything like that outside of Japanese markets. Seriously, they did not look good and to me overpriced.

    That's great Duonyte that you have Mitsuwa Market nearby. Was it Yaohan before? I like Mitsuwa. I have Nijiya Market nearby - great place for organic foods and very good selection of fish including fish shipped directly from Tsukiji fish wholesale market in Japan, Marukai Market - a big J market coming from Hawaii - good prices and further out, Mitsuwa.

    Nijiya and 99 Ranch (Chinese market - big) are both walking distance to me along with two other major supermarkets.

    Peggy - I did finally find rice vinegar at the Korean market in Ithaca after purchasing apple cider vinegar. That little Korean market was actually packed with lots of goodies but they had very little produce except green onions and Korean daikon, both very good prices.

    My father's wife is from Xian (middle of China) and she told me she never ate fish until coming to the US either. Her area is mostly noodle and hot pepper eating area. She makes wonderful hand-pulled noodles. She tried to teach me how to do that and I tried, but mine broke within about a foot. Perhaps, if I practiced more.
    Thu May 23, 2013 3:53 pm Groupie
    Here is hand pulled noodle making by my inlaws from Xian.
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