Contributor: Asian Grocery Store Product
I love mochi. Not mochi ice cream (though I go nuts at the Whole Foods Mochi Ice Cream Stand), not mochi stuffed with red beans, I’m talking about plain old mochi. It’s so damn good when you fry it in some sesame oil so it’s crispy on the outside and nice and gooey on the inside! Then you dip it in soy sauce mixed with a bit of sugar. This is the ultimate umami for me.
As a kid, my best friend Jeremy and I would play a game every time our families had a joint Chinese dinner together. As such, maybe six times a year we would engage in something called the “Rice Game.” Not to be confused with the Cookie Game, this was generally fairly G-rated and most often lacked full frontal nudity. The basic premise of the Rice Game was as such: rather than eat any of the real food ordered for the table, we would compete to see who could eat the most tiny bowls of white rice doused in soy sauce. No joke, we’ve easily taken this bowl count well into the 20s. To this day, no one knows who actually won a game, but it was terrific fun to upset our parents while getting sick. Adding insult to injury, as I continue to do in daily practice, we would insist on employing a fork in the course of the game/meal. To this day, I have a strong affinity for a dish I lovingly call Soy Sauce Rice. It’s just a shit-ton of generic Chinese white rice soaked in soy sauce. To really “up your game,” you can use those multi-colored shrimp-flavored chips as an edible scooping device. I keep a healthy bottle of soy sauce around at all times. This is how I’ve come to develop other signature dishes like Soy Sauce Pasta, Soy Sauce Toast and Soy Sauce Pierogi. If you ever see me on the street, don’t be afraid, introduce yourself. Mention the rice game: we’ll play a round or two, and form a bond that even my dangerously high sodium levels would be loathe to break. Go on, cowboy. It’s your turn.
In Seattle, WA, there is a gem of a store called Uwajimaya. “Uwaj” as the locals call it, is loaded with goodies, from your standard Asian foods, to aquariums of fish to take home. But my personal favorite Uwajimaya item was the onigiri. Onigiri is basically a Japanese rice ball. Usually there’s some sort of added treat: salmon, tuna, ume plums. I prefer the fish-based ones, and I still pick up Onigiri as a treat from Sunrise Market in NYC.
Rebecca Lee Lerman
Goji berries are a great antioxidant. They are beneficial in preventing cancer and are rich in Vitamin C, Iron, Vitamin A, Fiber and Zinc. I like to sprinkle these babies in my tea. This is a true superfood that will having you living a long and healthy life.
Alison Lea Bender
What kind of Korean girl would I be if I didn’t have a fridge stashed full of different flavorful side dishes? In Korea, we like to call these different types of small side items banchan. You can buy small portioned containers of yummy spicy, pickled items at most Korean grocery stores. H Mart has a great variety. They are amazing to eat for any meal of the day with a fresh, warm bowl of rice or with some BBQ meat. My staples are: kimchi (duh), kongnamul (bean sprouts), pickled radishes, pickled chili and shisito peppers, and spicy simmered tofu.
My house is not a home without Japanese mayonnaise. I first became addicted to this amazing condiment while living in Japan as a teen and gorging myself on Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki - both are traditionally topped with Kewpie and a sweeter okonomi sauce. Heaven! But what’s the difference between traditional mayonnaise and the japanese kind? Egg yolks. When the founder of Kewpie came up with the recipe in 1925, he was hoping to “improve physique” of Japanese people with a nutrient dense food and so he added double the egg yolks to what we consider typical mayo. I highly recommend putting this (and hot sauce) on most edible items. For more fun facts about Kewpie https://www.kewpie.co.jp/english/fun-facts/
I <3 kimchi. Just give me a fork or chopsticks and I eat it right out of the jar. I don’t need rice or anything else to go with it. I used to hate the smell growing up, but now I cannot be stopped.
Nicole Pasquale (@nicolepasquale): Mama (Thai ramen). Tom yum shrimp is my favorite even though it's the only thing in the world that consistently punishes my butt.
Kathy Yamamoto (@yamadrama): Those plastic bottles of Seaweed (and also they always have the best dishes)
Sarah Claspell (@claspy): Nori & all the candy, especially Pocky & Hello Panda
Michael Cruz Kayne (@mjckayn): Fish Sauce
Lilan Bowden (@yourfriendlilan): Giant jar of individually wrapped seaweed