Quite frankly only true foodies will appreciate why I’m about to rave about my first ever trip to a Chinese supermarket to buy authentic Asian ingredients.
But being new to the foodie scene (at only 22 and just a few years experience of cooking) this was a real revelation. To be able to buy the authentic ingredients used for Chinese cooking instead of imitation products from the supermarket was thrilling.
Now if you have recently read the post below (The lost art of thrift) you will be wondering why blowing money on lots of new ingredients is in any way thrifty or money saving. But in fact it is the corner stone of saving money in the kitchen.
You see, what I bought this weekend was lots of store cupboard ingredients – sauces, marinades, curry pastes and dried goods. And with good store cupboard ingredients (which also includes dried pasta, canned pulses, spices, herbs, canned tomatoes ect) you can make a few left over scraps into a tasty meal.
Take for example last night. Languishing in the fridge was some broccoli, which I forgot to use earlier in the week. I found a few spring onions and some eggs, which are always hanging out in my fridge. All I had to do was buy a nice piece of beef and I had a Chinese meal straight off a take-away menu – but fresh and MSG free.
I made egg fried rice with some cooked Thai fragrant rice I had just bought in a 5kg bag at the Chinese supermarket (Wai Yee Hong, Bristol), with two whisked eggs for two people, a splash of soy sauce and a dribble of fragrant sesame oil. Just scramble the egg in your wok and set aside, add more oil and fry the cooked rice in the wok for a few minutes. Add the egg, soy and sesame oil – and some sliced spring onions if you have them. Then I made beef and broccoli in oyster sauce.
I marinated around 300g of sliced beef in 1tbsp Shaohsing rice wine and 1tbsp of soy sauce for 5 minutes, then fried it in a wok until lightly browned and tipped it onto a plate. I then fried one chopped garlic clove, a little grating of fresh ginger and three sliced spring onions in the wok, added the broccoli and stir fried for a few minutes. I returned the beef to the wok and added 2tbsp of oyster sauce and 3tbsp of water, plus a little drizzle of sesame oil and a small squeeze of honey for sweetness. Lastly I put the lid of the wok on and cooked for 2-3 minutes until the broccoli had cooked but was still crunchy. It was fresh, delicious and it certainly tasted authentic.
So although I spent around £25 on new ingredients I think they will pay their way by giving me many tasty meals at short notice. Next I need to find somewhere to get good authentic Indian produce. If anyone lives in the Bristol area and knows of a place – or any interesting delis – then please let me know.