Chong’s Oriental Market

This entry does involve the book, and some fun time with a good friend. Not really knowing how to start revitalizing the book, I decide on going somewhere new. The idea is to pick out ingredients on instinct and see what happens.

            Sara Jane and I go to Chong’s Oriental Market on 8th and Locust for a bit of exploration. My nose, I cannot speak for SJ’s, is greeted by an unidentifiable and not completely pleasant odor, that’s closest relative I can think of is slightly funky gym shoe. But I completely forget about the smell once I see the plastic crates of produce. Japanese eggplant. Beautiful, heavenly light purple, Japanese eggplant. I try not to get too excited. After all, we have a mission, to pick mostly new ingredients and make something edible.

                We start with a base, a block of curly, plumb, yellow wheat noodles, wrapped in plastic with a fun bubblegum pink label void of any cooking instructions. Then, a frenzy of label reading, coconut jam, soda with a marble in the cap that shoots down when you open the bottle. SJ being so very pretty herself, has an eye for uncommonly pretty things. She sees these mushrooms, enoki mushrooms. They are the most elegant mushrooms I have ever seen in my life. Antique white, not a blemish on them, with long svelte stems and adorable round caps. We get a package, along with the noodles, bamboo shoots, a can of sweet Thai sauce, and one of those lovely eggplants. We didn’t really get all new ingredients, but hey, we tried.  We get fancy lychee and tamarind drinks, and for dessert we spurge on the pink and white rice cakes, our most expensive purchase at $4.39.

            Back at SJ’s apartment we sauté that eggplant and bamboo shoots and put some water on the boil. SJ puts on some Putumayo from her macbook. I am not really sure what to do with the mushrooms but washing them seems like a logical first step. I open the package and see, that to keep the mushrooms looking I guess, the processors left a chunk whatever partially decomposed matter the mushrooms graze on attached to the stems. I immediately want to become a fifth grader, get a tray, and dissect the stuff, but I am also very hungry at this point. So instead I cut the stems away from the chunk and wash them, very ,very well. The water is boiling at this point. We add a generous amount of noodles and in about ten minutes they are plump and juicy. We mix the noodles and Thai sauce with the eggplant and prepare to tuck in. SJ insists that I get to use the “I’ll kung your pow,” bowl and switches with me even after I admit that I accidently spilt a little of my tamarind drink in the other one.  We eat and giggle, definitely one for the book.




3 Responses to “Chong’s Oriental Market”

  1. Antoine Kalewicz Says:

    So, how did it taste like?! Was it a little bit sweet? I feel like every main dish should be at least a little bit sweet; (love the mix salt+sweet; example: melon and salt… HUM!)
    I can cook the most awesome tomato sauce; it’s sweet, creamy, and awesome with pasta!
    Also, I’ve been putting honey in almost everything I’ve been cooking to see what it would add (mostly to cakes), and most of the time it is AWESOME!
    think about it for your deserts!

    I’ll send an e-mail of my last adventures as soon as this crazy school year comes to an end… SOON!

  2. Alia,

    I am going to love reading your book!


  3. sjmaaranen Says:

    As I was present for the Chong’s experiment, I can testify that the end product was delicious!

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