Chinese shop

Every time I go to a Chinese food shop I want to buy everything. The packaging is what really gets me. Any onlooker would think that I have a chemical imbalance dancing up and down the aisles oohing and ahhhing. My overall food ADD gets kicked into high gear.

Anyway… this invariably leads to a cupboard that spills out into strategically placed large plastic bins in the kitchen filled with stuff that I don’t care to cook on a daily basis – mostly for lack of know-how.

So, after making a vow to myself to not buy any more non-fresh food in any grocery store until the cupboard is manageable again, I began the colossal task of cooking the bizarre. The following is a list of what worked and what didn’t. Let me know if you have any questions.

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NO-NO’s: (a.k.a. the graveyard)

– Mung bean in anything that is not desserty- especially lentil stew.

– Celery in the Chả giò – on principle more than anything else; I have Trân (a Vietnamese friend) to thank for educating me.

– Nutmeg (in almost anything) but especially not in Azuki beans.

– Cheap pressure cookers that explode all over the kitchen.

Congee – in any pre-packaged form. It’s the oats that really make me ralph.

– Frozen dumplings or Bánh bao especially if you can’t read the ingredients.

– MSG – granulated. (I bought some just for the novelty of the can!)

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Delicious accidents:

– Well-spiced leftovers in gỏi cuốn.

– green tea agar agar: like make-your-own-flavor Jello!

– Tapioca flour in crêpes – delightfully chewy!

– Lychee syrup and vodka. Not to mention the deliciousness of the tinned lychees themselves.

– Chestnuts – pre-cooked, preservative free – in a sealed plastic – yummm without any preparations.

– Cheap fresh produce including various kinds of greens for sautéing and avocado. In general, the fact that everything is inexpensive is the chinese shop’s ultimate virtue.

Not having any photos of these culinary wonders, I’ve decided to post a photo of some basil in an effort to express my love for autumnal light and the universal sentiment that basil is marvelous in just about anything.

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