How To Find Your Way in an Asian Grocer


When I became a chef, the power and allure of the food market and grocery stores was so strong that my mum would need to visit them everyday. It was always a great thing that mum bought home - fruits and vegetables, sweet cake and candy and meat or fish. 

How To Find Your Way in an Asian Grocer

If you go to an Asian store in your neighbourhood of Melbourne and Sydney - they have the same format. First, you might walk through a fresh produce session where you can find all sort of leafy green, salads, ginger, garlic, spring onion, sprouts and exotic mushroom.

The next thing you will see is the meat with pork belly, pork mince, duck, chicken, beef and lamb. The good thing is you can ask the butcher to cut whatever size you like your meats or poultry.

There is the seafood session with fresh fish in the tanks, crabs in the basket and even a few still alive. You can buy the whole unit and the shop assistant will clean them for you. Except those lobster or crab as they will keep them as fresh as possible when they are alive.

Then you will visit the frozen session with ready to eat or cook items such as soy products, bamboo, spring rolls pastry and other frozen desserts from durian to Asian icecream - look for frozen seafood such as prawn or scallop.

Next, you will see the refrigerated aisle with rice cakes, tofu, and fresh noodles in every Asian grocery store. 

You will pass into dry goods aisles of hot chilli sauces, pickled vegetables, soy sauces, vinegar, cooking wines, oils, spices, dried seaweed, dried mushroom and dry fungi, dried noodles, and all sorts of junk food you can think off.

The bigger store will also sell small equipment such as knife and wok or frying pan sometimes these guys also stock household items.

These days, Asian grocery stores are increasingly common and are even frequented by a lot more non-Asian people, who are often drawn by the cheaper produce and meat. If there’s one near you, it’s a great place to get inspired and stock up your pantry.

If you’re just getting to know Asian cooking, here are a few items that you’ll want to pick up–a selection of the basic, bread and butter pantry items that are essential to any cook’s stockpile.

  • Soy sauce 
  • Fish sauce
  • Sweet chilli sauce
  • Dark soy sauce
  • Black vinegar
  • Sesame oil
  • White pepper
  • Shaoxing cooking wine
  • Cornstarch
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Chilli
  • Rice


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