Asian Food Encounters of the Third Kind

A reader commented on last week’s post that he buys coconut water by the case at an Oriental market.  Since buying in quantity often brings a price discount, I decided to check if my Oriental market has coconut water by the case.

Since the market is on the other side of town, I don’t visit it just to browse.  I only visit it when I need to buy something.  Conveniently, I did need to replenish my supply of rice and soy sauce.  These important staples of my diet cannot be left to the mundane and limited offerings of my local grocery!

At the market, I headed straight to the beverages section.  I was pleased to find four types of coconut water by the case, including a “roasted coconut” variety.  (I lived in the Philippines for 18 years and I never heard of roasted coconut.)  But, all these cases were still almost a dollar a can.  The Sunchy brand with pulp at my grocery for 69 cents a can is still a better deal.  So no coconut water.

The coconut water was next to the frozen food section so I checked it out.  I was surprised to find about six varieties of Magnolia ice cream in 1.5 quart containers.  Magnolia was the only ice cream I ate while growing up.

In those days, they delivered to the house and we always bought a tin (or maybe it was aluminum) can about a foot high and six inches in diameter.  That was probably a gallon of ice cream.  I had no siblings and the parents didn’t eat much ice cream so I was the principal consumer.  All that ice cream would be gone within two weeks.  Rocky Road was my favorite flavor but I also enjoyed the “local” fruit varieties, such as macapuno (coconut), nangka (jackfruit) and ube (a purple yam).

That's what I'm talking about!

That’s what I’m talking about!

But returning to the ice cream of my youth would not be cheap.  That 1.5 quart container was $9.  Maybe next Lent… . 😉

I also came across some “siopao” which is Chinese but widely popular in the Philippines.  This is a steamed bun made from rice flour with a filling in the center. Pork is a popular filling.  Siopao is very convenient as a quick snack or lunch and is probably the Philippine equivalent of a hamburger.  I postponed a purchase until I have more room in my freezer.



My attention then turning to buying some rice.  I grew up eating rice almost every day.  I still eat rice almost every day because it goes with so many foods. Pork? Rice.  Chicken? Rice.  Fish? Rice.  Beans? Rice.  Green mango? Rice.

When it comes to rice, I’m not going to “settle” for the ordinary rice you find in the grocery.  I alternate between Jasmine and Basmati rice.  Since my last purchase was Jasmine, I went with Basmati.  A 20-pound bag of Royal brand Basmati was $19.  And the burlap bag can be used as a tote bag to inform knowledgeable rice gourmets that you’re eating at the top of the rice hierarchy.

The King of rice

The King of rice

Finally, there was soy sauce. Like rice, it is a good accompaniment to most foods.  If the entree doesn’t have a sauce to top the rice with, then soy sauce does the job.

I like my soy sauce low in sodium and without preservatives.  Fortunately, the Oriental market stocks an intimidating variety of soy sauces in sizes up to a gallon.

I chose a quart size bottle of Kim Ve Wong (Taiwanese) for $5.  No preservatives and “only” 560 milligrams of sodium compared to the 800-1,200 milligrams that is typical of soy sauce.  Kikkoman Lite soy sauce has about the same amount of sodium, but 2 quarts of it at Amazon is $14.  (Math wizards have calculated that the Kim Ve Wong is about 30% cheaper than Kikkoman.)

And, Kikkoman is Japanese.  Think that soy sauce is soy sauce? Think again….

Knowledge is power.  You are now empowered to walk into an Asian grocery store and impress your friends!


2 responses to “Asian Food Encounters of the Third Kind

  1. I know that market. I go there to buy Kim Chee. And I don’t recognize 99.9% of the merchandise. Now I know a little more, so thanks!

  2. Well it’s too bad they did not discount the coconut water case price but Tallahassee is often a unique market. Tampa is much more competitive. I remember that the discounted price was about 18% lower than the Publix shelf price per can on the same can. There were cheaper brands at Publix I just didn’t care for them.

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