I thought it might be fun to compile a list of our family's favorite Japanese (or Asian) market buys. With Peter being half Japanese, and also having served his mission for our church in Japan, we often try to incorporate some of his favorite meals and snacks into our regular routine. I know many of my friends and family also have favorite items that they get from their local Asian markets, so please, if you have any to add, please do!
1. Calpico, generically known as Calpis. This non-carbonated soft drink is sweet and has a slight yogurt-type feel (without being "thick"). It is delicious and is a definite favorite of my husband and kids!
2. Ramune. A very carbonated soft drink that comes in a variety of flavors, such as melon, lychee, peach, and many more. It's very sweet and fun to drink! I'll show you why:
The bottle is wrapped as shown above, with a glass ball suspended at the top right under the plastic cover and wrapping. Once you take off the plastic wrapper, you'll have a little plastic tool.
Take the small tool out of the perforated round part and set it atop the bottle.
Then, with quite a bit of force, slam the tool down, so that it forces the glass ball into the neck portion of the bottle. (Don't be afraid to really smack it!)
If you can see in the above picture, the ball is now sitting in the indented space. As you drink, be sure to keep this side down so the ball will stay put and not inhibit your soda from being able to come out the top. (Make sure to take the tool out of the top of the bottle before drinking!) See, fun!!! Right??? Kind of silly, but very novel and fun for kids or at parties. Last year, in addition to sparkling apple juice, we bought Ramunes for the whole family to enjoy on New Year's Eve. These are perfect for special occasions!
Rice and Noodles:
1. Nori, also known as seaweed. We love to eat handfuls of rice wrapped in nori. Or, for a fun snack or lunch meal, we'll make onigiri (Recipes here and here. We like to put tuna mixed with a little mayo inside of ours).
2. Furikake, or rice seasoning. This comes in many different flavors, such as fish, vegetable, or different meat flavors. Below is a vegetable flavor. We just sprinkle this on top of our plain white or brown rice to give it a little flavor, as well as a nice presentation. You can also adorn your onigiri with a little furikake.
3. Soba noodles, or buckwheat noodles. These noodles can be served warm or cold. A healthy alternative to regular pasta, we like to eat these cold, making a quick and tasty summertime meal. They cook quickly, so be sure to watch them! Then just rinse in cold water and serve. We like to dip our noodles in soba dipping sauce.
4. Soba noodle dipping sauce. Also served cold, just put a little bit of this sauce in a bowl next to your noodles and dip each chopstick-full bite and enjoy! This sauce really makes the noodles, but trust me--a little goes a long way! So I recommend dipping as opposed to pouring it over the top :)
Sorry about the picture of a half-empty bottle!
5. Ramen noodles. You may think I'm crazy. Or that I must just be stuck in freshman year of college or something, but, really! At an Asian market, the variations of ramen noodles are endless! You can get so many more flavors than you may find at your normal grocery store. So go ahead and try some! But before you eat, make sure to spice it up a little ;)
Above is pictured some miso flavored ramen. Delicious! But don't just eat it plain! Whenever we eat ramen, my husband likes to doctor it up a little, and by doing so, he makes a much healthier meal! We like to add green onions, egg, sugar snap peas, onions, edamame, tofu, carrots, and even celery to the soup as it's boiling. Really, we just add whatever produce (plus eggs and/or tofu) we have on hand. It makes regular-old ramen into something more like what you'd eat at a ramen shop.
Sorry about the bad iphone picture!
Above is a picture of some ramen that Peter whipped up for us one day after church. The perfect lunch meal, filled with veggies and lots of flavor.
Treats and Snacks:
1. Botan rice candy. Do any of you have memories of eating this in elementary school when you learned about international cultures??? I do . . . but maybe that was just my school. Anyway, this candy is good, and so different from any typical American candies! It's a rice candy, so it's chewy and a little sticky, but sweet! This candy is also quite novel and fun to eat.
Inside the box are several pieces of candy wrapped as such:
However, once you take the wrapper off, you'll notice another wrapper. But don't remove this one! This is actually rice paper that is meant to be eaten with the candy. The rice paper just dissolves once it's in your mouth.
Below are a couple of pictures of my son enjoying his candy. He seriously LOVES this stuff.
2. Mochi ice cream. So most of you have probably seen these at Trader Joe's or Costco, but since they're Japanese and some of our very favorites, I had to put them on the list! Mochi (which is just a chewy rice cake) wrapped around ice cream. Not much else to say, other than it's delicious.
3. Hi-Chew. Also, maybe not too novel. I've seen these sold at Costco or other stores as well, but they're a yummy, chewy candy that comes in a bunch of fruity flavors.
4. Mochi filled with an (pronounced "on"), or sweetened red bean paste. Sounds weird? Maybe. But don't judge! Just try! Mochi, again is a chewy rice cake (the rice is pounded until it becomes this consistency). These rice cakes are sweet and very filling. They're the perfect snack to get you between meals. The consistency and flavors may take a little while to get used to, but if you are adventurous, then I urge you to try this tasty treat!
5. Chocolate-topped cookies in the shape of mushrooms. I have no idea with the actual name for these is. But below is what the box looks like. These will fill your chocolate craving. My three year old doesn't care for them, but he doesn't really like chocolate. I, on the other hand, love chocolate. And these are good. Chocolate-topped cookies. Go get some.
This list really just scratches the surface of the amazing things you can find at Asian markets. From all of the different Asian spices, to bean sprouts, white radishes (daikon), bok choy, and other produce commonly eaten in Asian countries, to frozen pork buns, fish cakes (kamaboko), crab sticks, duck . . . you name it, it's there! We also like to go looking for foods that we've enjoyed in Hawaii or Australia, because they'll often be there too. What treats or mealtime favorites do you pick up from your local Asian market?