Most, however, not all, product labels will have at the very least some English. Sometimes, this is just a sticker slapped over the ingredients list, translating it for import. Here are a few guidelines for selecting from the most famous condiments on the shelves.
Andrea Nguyen, in their Craftsy class on Vietnamese cooking, gives 德国亚超 on how to choose fish sauce: “Look for any light amber color and the words ‘nhi’ or ‘thuong hang’ on the label. These terms indicate the condiment has come from the initial extraction of liquid from the fermented fish and is also of the very best quality.”
Most soy sauces come from either Japan or China. Japanese soy sauce, or shoyu, tends to be sweeter and milder than its Chinese counterparts, due to the higher ratio of wheat to soybeans found in brewing. Chinese soy sauce uses more soybeans than wheat (some brands are 100 percent soy), resulting in a stronger, thicker sauce, and is available in both dark and light-weight varieties. Light is regarded as the commonly used. In case you have a recipe that simply demands “soy sauce,” choose this. Dark soy sauce is thicker and has a far more intense flavor because of a longer fermentation process but is not necessarily saltier. Avoid any brands that contain corn syrup or caramel coloring, they are both warning signs of an inferior product.
Curry paste is usually created from a mixture of fresh chiles, aromatics (shallots, garlic, galangal, lemongrass), spices and shrimp paste. The color from the curry paste depends on the shade of the chiles and spices it includes. Thai curry paste is available in many varieties, including red (made with dried red chiles), green (fresh green chiles), yellow (turmeric), Panang (red curry with ground peanuts) and Massaman (red curry with the addition of sweet spices including cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and clove). Vietnamese curry is yellow and are available in paste or powder form. Japanese curry (inspired by Indian curry by means of England) is brown/golden and is usually sold being a sauce mix or perhaps in cubes of roux, which thicken dramatically in liquid.
You will find three basics types of this umami-rich fermented soybean paste: white, yellow and red. The color depends on the other ingredients blended with the soybeans, namely rice and barley, and through the length of fermentation. In most cases, the darker the color, the greater robust the flavor. Look for “oyster extract” as among the first ingredients, as numerous sauces are artificially flavored.
Many traditional Asian dishes are vegetable-centric, and so the produce aisle is a good location to discover copious kinds of greens, root vegetables, melons, squashes, chiles, beans and herbs. Consult your favorite cookbooks to get a sense of what to buy, but don’t hesitate to get a couple of unfamiliar items too. At a market rich in turnover, everything should szjkgk fresh and plentiful. If some of the greens look wilted or yellowed, just dig around for any fresher bundle.
The offerings in the meat counter might be diverse from what you’re used to seeing at your regular supermarket, but once again, they often offer a lot of value in both cost and flavor. Look into the selections of thinly sliced meat for stir-fries, pho and shabu shabu. You’ll also find short ribs, pork loin, whole chickens and ducks, along with a lot of offal, including tripe, oxtail, kidneys, beef tendon and chicken feet. Don’t miss out on the dried sausage, either! Its 悠购 is fantastic in fried rice to scrambled eggs. Note: Put some chicken feet inside your next batch of chicken stock for the extra-velvety texture.
Within the seafood section, prepare yourself to encounter a lot of whole fish, many of them still swimming! When you purchase live fish, the butcher can kill, gut, scale and, if your lucky, filet it to suit your needs. Some larger markets will even fry the fish on the destination for you! Bear in mind, you don’t have to adhere to Asian cuisines because you’re shopping with an Asian grocery. My local Chinese market serves me well whenever I get a hankering for a Cajun shrimp boil, Buffalo wings, oxtail stew or even a whole roast chicken.