Inside an Asian Supermarket 6/10/12

If you’ve never been, an Asian market is quite a spectacle compared to American grocery stores.  There are many differences that might perplex the eater who considers Panda Express as real Chinese food.  When we see Asian food as a part of the American diet, we think of orange chicken, chow mein, and any food doused with soy sauce.  Yet, once you step foot into an Asian supermarket, you realize that’s not the case.  Real Asian food is filled with fresh ingredient, milder tastes that are packed with flavor, and different staples.

The reason why I go to asian supermarkets is 1) because it is cheaper than American grocery stores, and 2) because of the strange things it has to offer.  I come from an American diet background, but when my mom used to cook for me, she’d always make Vietnamese dishes and would go to the Asian supermarket to buy groceries because they didn’t have some of the things she needed like rice paper in Albertson’s.

I decided to go to 99 Ranch, one of the few Asian supermarkets in San Diego, to pick up a few ingredients that I wouldn’t be able to find at Ralph’s.  Like any weekend, the place was packed.  There is only one section designated to American products, but most of them are priced higher than American places, so there’s no point in buying American foods like Hot Cheetos and bottles of Pepsi at an Asian Market.

The asian diet, depending on which ethnic asian, like Vietnamese, Chinese, or Korean, the main staples are rice, lots of vegetables, and more seafood than meat.  According to Old Ways: Health through Heritage, a typical asian diet would look like this:

So an Asian market caters to these categories, to meet the dietary needs of those with an Asian diet. While browsing through the aisles, you’ll notice the various selections of different products.  In these aisles, they offer numerous brands of one product, which sometimes gets overwhelming when your just trying to buy tofu, but its great to have the choice.  Look at all those teas and ramen.

These egg tarts caught my eye.

Although there is a meat counter, a unique feature of Asian markets is live seafood as well as a display of different fish.  The butchers will clean your fish and even fry it for you if you’d like.

The little blue crab in the right upper corner was very feisty.

Another feature is the variety of fruit that one can get. This one is dragonfruit, even though, I’ve seen it all the time, I’ve never eaten it, until today.  My boyfriend was very excited to buy one and take it home.  The taste and texture reminded me of kiwis.

Asian supermarkets offer great healthy alternatives to the American diet and pocket.  I love taking a stroll through each aisle because I always find new things I haven’t tried before.  Given some of the things that are offered I would deem as weird, like corn flavored ice cream, but a lot of the foods are tasty.  If you haven’t gone to an Asian supermarket yet, try it! I guarantee you’ll be amazed.