adventure food!

Most of the food I eat is organic. Most of my shopping, therefore, is done at places like Whole Foods (or my parents' natural food store in upstate NY). But once in a while I can't resist checking out the pakistani or the mexican or the turkish or the brazilian grocery stores in my area. We never had so many food options in upstate NY! One of my favorite places to get groceries from other countries is super 88 market. Their produce section is exciting - where else will I see bitter melons or fresh sugar cane or young coconut? - and their refrigerated section features soy products I never knew existed. A lot of them I don't buy because they have MSG, but the MSG-free ones sometimes make it home with me:
Soy sausage, which is actually just oddly-shaped tofu with no flavor (pictured here with a spice rub, but more attractive in the previous entry as a roasted ham).
Soy steak, which was mildly flavored with five spice powder and soy sauce (good in salad).
And Soy Chew, which I had to buy for its name.

There was also the sweet-and-sour soy chew, which I bought and did not photograph because it was 1.) ugly (just brown) and 2.) gross. I wanted to like it. It didn't work. And they have fried tofu, which is just deep-fried tofu. It's a little too oily to eat straight (I have to wring it out in a few napkins first), but it has a great texture. The nicest thing is that this brand says their soy is non-gmo. So not organic, but not the worst option.

Anyway, one of my most exciting produce finds there was Lotus Root! I've used dried lotus root, but I wanted to work with the real thing:
It's adorable, no? It's quite chewy, and boiling it, the smell reminded me of corn. The taste was sorta like a cross between water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. Maybe a little corn-esque, too. I liked it.

Christina Pirello has a recipe for stuffed lotus root in her Cooking with Whole Foods. I tried making it and I failed. Stuffing a lotus root is hard, messy work, because there are so many chambers. So for those of us who would like lotus root in a simpler, potato-salady form:

Unstuffed Lotus Root Salad
(serves 4 as a side)
1 pound lotus root (two lotus roots)
1/3 Cup frozen corn
1/3 Cup peas
2 Tbsp almond butter (or other nut butter. not peanut, though)
2 Tbsp miso (milder's better)

Peel the lotus root. Half it lengthwise, then slice fairly thinly (1/4 inch pieces). Heat a medium-sized pot with of water to a boil, then add the lotus root. Boil for 15 minutes, until tender. Add the corn and peas in the last few minutes of cooking.

While the lotus root is boiling away, stir the almond butter and miso together in a large bowl. Add 1/4-1/3 cup of the boiling water from the lotus-root pot to the miso mixture and stir some more until it makes a nice sauce.

Drain the lotus root and veggies. Add to miso mixture, stir until all of the lotus root is coated. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes (stir occasionally to make sure the sauce doesn't sink back to the bottom) to a day for the flavors to set.

Salty but delicious! Very good with or on greens.

(These are not halved or sliced, so they took longer than 15 minutes. But you get the idea.)

Finally, these have nothing to do with exciting food purchases, but I took this picture of organic plums from my parents' store months ago, and only just found it while transferring some pictures from my old computer.
They're so pretty they're practicaly obscene. For some reason I never remember liking plums, nectarines, or peaches, but then I eat one and remember THEY ARE DELICIOUS.


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ChocolateCoveredVegan said... Best Blogger Tips

I agree with you-- it's so much fun to peruse ethnic grocery stores. There are so many fun products that you can't find in a regular grocery store... and oftentimes, you can find great bargains too :o).

jess (of Get Sconed!) said... Best Blogger Tips

what neat finds! I had an urge to visit an asian market this weekend, and held back, but I may find myself there soon eough..

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said... Best Blogger Tips

I like going to the Indian bazaar when I visit my parents. They have super cheap TSP chunks, plus I buy a lot of spices there.

VeggieGirl said... Best Blogger Tips

I always eat organic as well; and I LOVE visiting ethic food markets, for exotic ingredients! :0)

Anonymous said... Best Blogger Tips

Lotus root is so pretty! Asian markets are fun. And usually very cheap too.

Ruby Red Vegan said... Best Blogger Tips

i've never heard of lotus root! this is yet another post where you surprise us with your obscure vegetables. yay yay yay!

those soy products spike my curiosity, but they look scary at the same time... the soy steak with five spice powder sounds goood. yes, "good" with 3 o's.

Rural Vegan said... Best Blogger Tips

You know, I have seen lotus root at my Asian grocer, but I had no idea what to do with it. And I really had no idea they were so cool looking inside! I'll have to pick one up next time.

Vegan_Noodle said... Best Blogger Tips

I really admire that you are trying all those different products. This reminds me to buy some plums...