Friday, 8 January 2010

Your Local Chinese Supermarket Needs YOU

Ok, it probably doesn't need you. It'll do fine without you. Rick Stein is always banging on about how you can find tamarind at 'your local Chinese supermarket'. I always think 'what a dick'. Yeah, because he lives in Padstow and I suspect, from my experience of eating Chinese food twice in Exeter and once in Warminster, that wherever the Chinese population is low, that's where there are no Chinese supermarkets. It's pretty mean of Rick to advise people from counties as white as his to guzzle loads of gas getting to a Chinese supermarket 40 miles away. Especially when Chinese food is referred to under the umbrella term of 'ethnic foodstuffs'. Mr. and Mrs. Whitebread will get all the way to Swindon and then discover they're in a Japanese shop. I'm not even talking about Chinese food. I'm talking about Cantonese food, but I'm not about to split hairs when every Bamboo Garden and Golden China I've encountered outside the M25 has had deep-fried saveloy on the menu.

My local Chinese supermarket is a cash and carry, and it's actually closer than my local Sainsbury's. I haven't been in it for years, but I went back two days ago and it's better than I remembered. It's as disorienting and as smelly as just the department store in Singapore's Chinatown, which is, I'm ashamed to say, the closest I've got to China. AND they were playing Lionel Richie's 'Dancing on the Ceiling' as I was there. And outside, there were little speakers playing...Lionel Richie's 'Dancing on the Ceiling'. How brilliant is that? Especially when you consider how Sainsbury's and Tesco don't play any music, and Co-Op radio is pretty much Radio 1.

It's remarkable to see how cheaply speciality food can be imported for these days. Of course, all restaurant fare is more expensive than home-made grub, but speciality food takes it to ridiculous levels. For the same price I'd buy two gyoza in Gerrard Street, or five gyoza in any Wagamama, I bought FIFTY at See Woo. I also bought some Nasi Goreng paste and some chili oil. I've eaten pretty much nothing else since.

1. Dumplings with soup noodles (keeping it casual, this was minimum effort, bit of chili, garlic paste, ginger and lemongrass in with packet noodles, dumplings on top)

2. Nasi Goreng (egg on top, fried shallots - Rick Stein's recipe, except I didn't use spring onions/shallots in the rice and I used this hectic MSG-laden curry paste and substituted sugar and soy for kecap manis)

3. Dumplings on Nasi Goreng (the 'Best of Both Worlds' - check the sp00n)

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