Random Happenings

Random notes and pics about events in the life of a not-your-typical Computer Science grad student. (Yes I am a nerd, but I don't live and breathe the SciFi channel, well maybe Stargate SG-1...)

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Travel to the far east without leaving your kitchen

A new Asian market/grocery opened up in College Station near our house. All the Chinese grad students in my lab have been waiting on pins and needles for it to open. We have a pretty large Asian grad student population here at Texas A&M, and they all have had to drive to Houston to get the ingredients they need. (We actually have another Asian market, but it is tiny and, from what my classmates tell me, not well stocked.) Now the wait is over and the market is finally open. So, Nathan and I decided to check it out this weekend.

When we first walked in, it was a little like stepping into a foreign country as we were clearly the only Americans there. What fun! The store is huge and has everything! They have nice looking sushi for cheap, produce I don't really recognize, and aisles upon aisles of ingredients labeled in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and more. The only thing that broke the cultural illusion was the blaring Tejano music playing behind the meat counter --- the two Hispanic men working behind the counter were clearly in charge of the music selection.

Nathan and I were inspired to try some new things, so we decided to take a food tour of the far east. We started in China with bao, steamed buns filled with pork "BBQ" that you typically get in a dim sum restaurant. I admit that we bought them pre-made from the frozen foods section, but all my Chinese friends do the same.

Then we traveled to Japan with Japanese Udon Noodles. It took a little bit of doing to find all the ingredients since we can't read Japanese, but we did it, and here they are:
1. flower chives
2. baby bok choy
3. mirin (rice wine)
4. dried mushrooms (we think shiitake)
5. eggs
6. dashi powder (like fish stock)
7. shrimp balls (yes, that is what they're called)
8. kamaboko (fish cake)
9. green tea cakes (for dessert later)
10. udon noodles (the star ingredient)
We did make some substitutions in the recipe like adding baby bok choy with the spinach and replacing the leek with flower chives (because I've always wanted to try them). It actually turned out surpisingly tasty and was very easy to make.

We finished the meal in Taiwan with some traditional cakes, some flavored with green tea and some flavored with honeydew melon. They are really yummy and a lot like a Fig Newton, just with an Asian twist.

So, all in all the trip was wonderful and we didn't have to deal with jet lag. I highly recommend going.


Anonymous Sara said...

I love trying new Chinese foods as well, and the other week tried lychees: highly recommended. Inside they're almost like giant peeled grapes.

8:56 AM  

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