I love to cook. I love to go out to eat and then, in the privacy of my own kitchen, try to figure out how chefs prepare my favorite dishes. I love to watch Food Network and make things from the recipes on their website. I do excellent Italian food, and I’m getting better with Mexican, Cuban, and Cajun-Creole. But I’ve always left Asian food (encompassing Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and even Indian cuisines) to “the professionals,” figuring restaurants can do it better than I.
Now I’ve recently gotten into browsing around in Asian grocery stores, and we have a particularly big one nearby in Miami. They have such unique smells, and they’re full of such neat-looking exotic foods. But unfortunately, I don’t know what a lot of these things are, or what they are used for. I’ve gotten braver with picking out snack foods, but I’d love to just fill up a cart with goodies and go home to experiment.
What are some good food staples to pick up at Asian grocery stores–ingredients and also brands, since there is a great deal of variety? What are some good beginner recipes I can make with these authentic ingredients? What are some rare treats and must-have goodies I should pick up to keep in the house? I just feel over my head at that place, and I’d love to relax and expose myself to all kinds of new food experiences.