Sunday, February 26, 2006

Asian Sunday

A nice graphic I pulled from... - though it has nothing to do with the following post...

I have fallen into this pattern lately on Sunday's and I'm enjoying it...
Waking up early (and barely) making it to church.
Staying after the service for either a group discussion, or Sunday school.
leaving church and realizing I'm starving!
I've been going to a local Japanese restaurant and have been having some really good food. Last week I had Chicken Katsu Don, and asked around during the week if anyone knew of a local Asian food market where I might be able to find some "don burri sauce". Well, I was recommended to go to "H-Mart" (I'm surprised they can use that name without trademark hassles from K-mart!). It was an AMAZING store, and I had a great time. I went to the little shopping mall or strip mall where H-mart was and saw that there was a Korean restaurant there. I've had Korean food only a few times before, but have always enjoyed it, so in keeping with my Asian Sunday theme, I decided to go there first to get some food. What a neat place, and I had a really good dish... Beef Soon Yook. It was only me, and yet they treated me very nice, and brought out about 8 small side dishes! That could have been the entire meal right there. The Beef was very interesting... It was in some sort of batter dip that was mottled in color then deep fried, and served with some slightly cooked vegetables all in a type of sweet and sour sauce. And I liked all of the side dishes except for one (Waldorf salad - something about apples and mayo that turns my stomach). I'm a big fan of the Kim-Chee though, they also had some large bean sprouts, some marinated broccoli, some sort of green leaf marinated (looked a little like broccoli Rabe?), a small dish of cabbage and what tasted like celery and tiny shrimp, a marinated beef (cold), and some spicy Tofu. Then when I was getting ready to leave, they brought the check and a small dessert - I had never seen this before and had no idea what it was - so I ate it :) I'll try to describe it... it looked almost like a mushroom cap, in that there appeared to have been something in the center that was removed. It was white with a bit of brown. It was in a tiny dish, with a little wooden fork, and smelled like "dessert wine". I had to ask the waitress what it was, and after asking her to repeat it because I didn't understand her accent I realized what she was saying was "Lychee" - I'd heard of this before but didn't know what it was, now I do... a type of Chinese fruit. (and good too!).
So after lunch and with a happy full belly, I went into the market (you know what they say about shopping on an empty stomach ;)... The market was HUGE! and busy with lots of mostly Asian people (big surprise). I saw maybe 2 other white people and one black couple. I felt very out of place, but didn't really care. I just took my time and wandered through the market looking at all the interesting new items (I WISH I had a camera). Many of which I had no idea what the items were, and then some that I knew what they were, but no idea how one would cook with them - for example a bag of dried anchovies. There was a seafood section with a man cleaning fish for the various people, and what looked like some really fresh fish. (matter of fact, all the food looked fresh and good). There was a little old lady in a little "booth" with big rubber gloves on and she was bundled up with a sweater and all (I think cause there was a door for the fishmarket right there that was open). She was mixing up fresh batches of KimChee (A SPICY cabbage dish that is a staple in all Korean households). I eventually found the sauce aisle, but after pouring over all the many choices of sauces, never did find my original Don burri quest. Oh well.
As I was nearing the end of the sauce aisle, I kept hearing a loud banging noise. Like someone slamming a large book down on a table along with a woosh of steam. I turned the corner and saw a man standing in another tiny booth with some sort of machine that was making this noise. The sign said "Pop Rice". He saw me trying to see what was going on, and waved me over to take a closer look. As I approached he gave me a sample of one of these rice pops. (along with another little Asian boy of about 8 years old ;) So I stayed a minute and tried to figure what this machine was doing. The best I could tell, it was squirting a batter into this small reservoir, then somehow by using some sort of high compression (steam or maybe just gas) it "popped" out a light fluffy rice cake about 8" Diameter. It tasted good, so I bought a package of them for $1.99. (sort of felt obligated since he gave me the free sample :) I found this link that describes what I saw (and it's at the same market that I went to but their story is in Boston.)
I ended up buying some really beautiful noodles. I have no idea what they are, but they are small white noodles perfectly cut and formed. (I hope to take a photo of this). I got some sort of fish base soup sauce for noodles (again, no idea what it is, or exactly how to use it). I wanted to buy a bag of the dried anchovies but didn't know how to prepare them. I also got the bag of rice cakes, and finally bought some really cool Japanese Tea cups. (I think I'll go back and buy the matching teapot at a later date), I also got a bag of Japanese Sencha Tea.
As I was paying for my items in the express lane, the woman glanced up and gave me a smile with a sort of unspoken line of communication like "welcome, we don't see many people who look like you here". (at least that's how I interpreted her smile). I can't wait until I go back again. There are SO many items there that not only had I never tasted them before, but I had NO IDEA what these items even were. One man passed me with a shopping cart and there was this large spiky brown thing about the size of a large pineapple... What the heck was that!
If anyone reading this knows how to prepare those dried anchovies please post in the comment section! :)
(My apologies for such a long post! But I could probably go on for a few more pages ;)

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