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Topic: Exploring the Asian food market - need international help!  (Read 2709 times)
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arrmatie
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« on: December 29, 2005 09:20:03 PM »

Every time I go to my local Asian food store I curse myself for not bringing paper to right down the names of the more esoteric vegetables so I can look them up when I get home.  Well, this time I remembered, but after excitedly googling each one I'm still mystified.  I can find crude descriptions and recipes for them, but I don't know what I really need to try, or how best to prepare it.

Here's the list:

Banana blossom
Bac-Ha/Vietnamese rhubarb
Sinquo/chinese okra/silk gourd
Opo/bottle gourd
Arrowhead/Chinese potato
Galenga root
E-too (I couldn't find out anything about this - it's some kind of leaf)
Rau-ram/vietnamese coriander
Mogua/hairy melon
Nagaimo/mountian potato/long yam
Ngo-om/sweet cumin/rice paddy herb
Ngo-gai/mexican coriander/saw-tooth herb

So for anyone who's eaten any of these, what I'm wondering is:
What's it like?  Does it resemble any western vegetables?
Is it good?
Is it worth making an extra effort to try it?
How do you (best) prepare it?

I know I could just be adventurous and try them all, but I'm worried that in my ignorance I'll break my back in the kitchen just to try four different kinds of potato.
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KCGal
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2005 07:47:29 AM »

You definitely have big-time exotic produce in your hometown!  When I saw your post, I immediately thought of recommending a fantastic book that I have, called "Food Lover's Companion" by Sharon Tyler Herbst, published by Barron's.  It offers "comprehensive definitions of nealry 6,000 food, drink, and culinary terms."  But your list stumped even the Food Lover's Companion!  I looked up all of the items on your list, and found only 4 in my book:

Sinquo/chinese okra/silk gourd = Asian okra
Arrowhead/Chinese potato   
Galenga root = galanga or Thai ginger.  I recognized this one immediately, b/c I love Thai food.  It gives a tangy, bright flavor to Thai soups and noodle dishes.  A little goes a long way.
Mogua/hairy melon = fuzzy melon

I will pm you to transcribe some of the info on each of these items (so that I don't take up so much space on craftster). 

I still recommend my food book, btw.  But my other recommendation to you would be to go to the library and find a book on Vietnamese cooking or cuisine; you might find a good glossary in a book like that.  I have a feeling that some of the names of the items you listed are more colloquial and might not be the more commonly accepted names.  Good luck!
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meraonthewall
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2005 09:02:03 PM »

The reason you can't find information about these items is because they go by many different names. Ask someone at the asian market to help you out, or better yet find an asian cookbook in your library written in English and for English speakers and they will provide more information about what you have there. Then with what you find go look for what interests you, it's better to try it that way than to just find something interesting without knowing anything about it.
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erikau
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2005 08:44:23 AM »

Just because I like to do research...
re bac ha:  http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/asianveg/msg030338448600.html
banana blossom: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_29322,00.html
banana blossom: http://www.tribo.org/vegetarian/blossom.html
banana blossom (bottom part of properties):  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana
silk gourd: http://www.asiafood.org/glossary_1.cfm?alpha=R&wordid=3268&startno=27&endno=51
silk gourd: http://www.hormel.com/kitchen/glossary.asp?akw=&id=37066&catitemid=
bottle gourd: http://www.evergreenseeds.com/evergreenseeds/calgouropo.html
arrowhead: http://www.innvista.com/health/foods/vegetables/arrowhd.htm
arrowhead: http://www.asiafood.org/glossary_1.cfm?alpha=A&startno=27&endno=51
galangal: http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/ingredients/galanga.html
galangal: http://www.hormel.com/kitchen/glossary.asp?akw=&id=36231&catitemid=
hairy squash: http://www.asiafood.org/glossary_1.cfm?alpha=F&wordid=3267&startno=27&endno=51
herbs: http://www.vietworldkitchen.com/essentials/herbs.htm
herbs: http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/polodoratum.htm
nagaimo/yamaimo/tororo: http://www.hormel.com/kitchen/glossary.asp?akw=&id=35445&catitemid=
nagaimo/yamaimo/tororo: http://www.bob-an.com/recipe/dailyjc/basic/oknomi/oknomi.html
magaimo/yamaimo/tororo (scroll down pretty far, they're discussing slimy foods):  http://members.tripod.com/runker_room/tiestalk/slimy.htm

erika
« Last Edit: December 31, 2005 08:49:18 AM by erikau » THIS ROCKS   Logged
arrmatie
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2005 09:59:00 AM »

Thanks for the links, but does anyone have first-hand experience with any of these?
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SecondHandRogue
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2005 06:20:49 PM »

I bought Galanga root, (powdered in a jar 'cause they were out of the root) , in my local asian market. I got it to use in Tom Yum Soup, but when I ran out of ginger powder I started to throw it into other things like spice cakes and caribbean black beans (my fave Galanga use yet). As KC noted above, it is tangy and pungent, stronger than the ginger you may be used to, but seems an easy ingredient to incorporate into your cooking.

My recipe is not great, but I think that if you could find a good recipe for tom yum (spicy hot and sour thai soup) you would get a chance to use a few exotic asian market ingredients like galanga (better to get the root), keffir lime leaves, fish sauce, thai basil, and a few of those corianders, to name a few...and soup is pretty hard to screw up, if you're into sampling these ingredients but not *that* into cooking.
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smrfchic
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2005 07:45:42 PM »

I bought Galanga root, (powdered in a jar 'cause they were out of the root) , in my local asian market. I got it to use in Tom Yum Soup, but when I ran out of ginger powder I started to throw it into other things like spice cakes and caribbean black beans (my fave Galanga use yet). As KC noted above, it is tangy and pungent, stronger than the ginger you may be used to, but seems an easy ingredient to incorporate into your cooking.

My recipe is not great, but I think that if you could find a good recipe for tom yum (spicy hot and sour thai soup) you would get a chance to use a few exotic asian market ingredients like galanga (better to get the root), keffir lime leaves, fish sauce, thai basil, and a few of those corianders, to name a few...and soup is pretty hard to screw up, if you're into sampling these ingredients but not *that* into cooking.

You can also use it in Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup).  That's my personal favorite of all the Thai soups, :-D
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~*~ Sadie ~*~
Oh, for corn's sake!
tofuttibreak
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2005 09:45:28 PM »

I only have experience with galangal, too. I've bought it fresh and it is very tasty. It's used in thai curries as well as soups. My advice would be to try a new one each week or so. I try to do this as often as possible. Most asian supermarkets have ridiculously cheap produce and you don't need to buy a lot to try something. It can be very interesting...
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SecondHandRogue
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2005 11:42:08 PM »

I bought Galanga root, (powdered in a jar 'cause they were out of the root) , in my local asian market. I got it to use in Tom Yum Soup, but when I ran out of ginger powder I started to throw it into other things like spice cakes and caribbean black beans (my fave Galanga use yet). As KC noted above, it is tangy and pungent, stronger than the ginger you may be used to, but seems an easy ingredient to incorporate into your cooking.

My recipe is not great, but I think that if you could find a good recipe for tom yum (spicy hot and sour thai soup) you would get a chance to use a few exotic asian market ingredients like galanga (better to get the root), keffir lime leaves, fish sauce, thai basil, and a few of those corianders, to name a few...and soup is pretty hard to screw up, if you're into sampling these ingredients but not *that* into cooking.

You can also use it in Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup).  That's my personal favorite of all the Thai soups, :-D

hmmmm...it's 2:40 am, I'm home, and I've got coconut milk, limes, galanga and some chicken broth...
got a recipe, sadie?
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Hemi*Housewife
« Reply #9 on: January 01, 2006 08:25:34 AM »

Just make sure you don't use the galanga in place of regular ginger....its a different taste completely.

I too love exploring the asian supermarkets...we have some incredible ones here!  I can't believe how great the deals are on the live seafood too...we do a crab boil once a year and get all the stuff there.

I highly recommend buying a big bottle of Kecap manis...its a thick sweet soy sauce from indonesia...that makes a really awesome teriyaki-like glaze.  I mix some with a little melted butter and brush it on chicken breasts, then grill.  MMM..drool.
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smrfchic
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2006 04:25:59 PM »

You can also use it in Tom Kha Gai (Chicken Coconut Soup).  That's my personal favorite of all the Thai soups, :-D

hmmmm...it's 2:40 am, I'm home, and I've got coconut milk, limes, galanga and some chicken broth...
got a recipe, sadie?

Hmmmm... I can't find my recipe notebook that had that one in it... (or my favorite satay recipe either, grrrr)...

I remember it was something along the lines of frying up some diced chicken (probably around half a pound) in peanut oil (i generally use the boneless/skinless chicken leg meat because I can get enough for the soup for a buck at the asian store, LOL) along with 1/2lb sliced mushrooms, then adding some chicken broth or vegetable stock (both work equally well - use the large cans, or 2 smaller cans plus water), and bringing that to a boil with a few slices of galanga. 

Then you add a mixture of sugar, chile sauce, fish sauce, and lime juice, bring it back up to a boil... fish out the galanga (it's really tough and very potent, not something I like to chew on, LOL)... add the coconut milk (I think it's a 15oz can), and then garnish each bowl with a healthy sprinkling of freshly chopped cilantro.

I just can't remember the measurements for the sugar & chile and fish sauces... probably something like 2tbs sugar, 1 tbs chili sauce (the red one with the rooster on the bottle - don't make me get up - Sriracha or something like that), and 2 tbs of fish sauce (nam pla)...


I wish I could find it again... I tried so many recipes before finding this one that I truly loved!  I suppose you could experiment around with it though, Wink And I know the mushrooms aren't traditionally part of it, but again, it's my favorite version. :-D
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~*~ Sadie ~*~
Oh, for corn's sake!
artsygal
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« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2006 07:33:56 PM »

I recognize some of those ingrdiants, but wouldn't necessarily know wht to do with them. 

Galangal is great for thai cooking though.. I'll have to get my mom's recipe for tom yum and tom kha soup and post it here - she makes it out of this world. Give me a bowl of soup and some hot jasmin rice and I'm happy. That's been one of my favorite meals since I was a kid.

Another suggestion for the galangal is to make it with chicken. Cube some chicken meat, heat up some oil in a skillet, toss in just a little diced garlic, add the galangal (cut it into thin slices, or go even further and cut into matchstick like strips) and saute it all together a couple of minutes. Add the chicken, and some coconut milk. Season with some nampla (fish sauce) instead of salt and some lime (NOT lemon) juice. Simmer it all together until the flavors are melded, and serve over jasmin rice. The galangal itself isn't to be eaten, but it gives off a wonderful flavor. You can vary the amount of coconut you use to make it into a curry, or just a little bit to just add a little liquid to the meat. And, if you have some lemongrass, add that too. I guess you could consider this a not so soupy version of Tom Kha soup! It was one of my favorite things to make when I was learning to cook in college and homesick for thailand and all the yummy foods I grew up eating.

J
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smrfchic
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2006 08:09:16 PM »

I wish I could find it again... I tried so many recipes before finding this one that I truly loved!  I suppose you could experiment around with it though, Wink And I know the mushrooms aren't traditionally part of it, but again, it's my favorite version. :-D


Replying to myself, :-D

I got hungry for this so I ran out and bought some fresh galangal. Wink  Mmmmmm!

I used 2 small cans of vegetable broth (13oz?) and 1 can of water, but should have left the water out - it still tasted good, but I think it would have been thicker/heartier without the unnecessary water.  I eyeballed the seasonings and used a 2" piece of galangal chopped in large chunks, 2 tbs sugar, 3 tbs fish sauce, and 2 tbs chili sauce ~ it was a bit on the hot side (not the burn your mouth hot, but the wow that's kind of tingly down your throat hot), so probably 1 tbs would have been fine... and for the lime juice, I used the juice of one lime.  And the coconut milk was a 14oz can.  Not too bad for just trying to do it from memory!
HTH! Smiley
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~*~ Sadie ~*~
Oh, for corn's sake!
SecondHandRogue
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2006 12:58:54 AM »

Yayyy!!!!
Thanks so much! Five kids and you still have time to post recipes on the internet? You are my heroine---
Will post back once the pot comes to a boil:)
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smrfchic
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2006 12:09:09 PM »

Yayyy!!!!
Thanks so much! Five kids and you still have time to post recipes on the internet? You are my heroine---
Will post back once the pot comes to a boil:)

I hope it comes out well for you! My husband says this soup is one of those things where the first couple of bites you are trying to get used to it, and then the rest of the bowl is just really good.  It's really good as a side dish with some rice and some satay.

This is my favorite satay recipe right now, and it's VERY simple:

http://barbeque.allrecipes.com/az/IndnsinSty.asp

I have made it with chicken, pork AND beef (the really cheap "milanesa" or "breakfast steak" cuts are fine for this!). Marinate it for like 4 hours though, really let the flavors seep into the meat.  I grill these on my George Foreman grill and they come out great! Very tender, great flavor... and you probably already have all the spices on hand already. :-D
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~*~ Sadie ~*~
Oh, for corn's sake!
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