Discover the Essentials: Your Guide to Asian Groceries for Everyday Ne – Bokksu Market

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Discover the Essentials: Your Guide to Asian Groceries for Everyday Needs

by Theo Ponthieux

Asian grocery store

Once only available in large cities, Asian grocery stores have become more widespread in the United States in recent years. While more people have had the opportunity to explore the aisles of these markets/stores, for some it's still a new experience. For those who feel overwhelmed by the idea of perusing Asian groceries, this guide will help you successfully navigate the rows of tasty snacks, treats, drinks, and more!

Introduction to Asian Groceries: A World of Flavor and Convenience

One of the best parts of an Asian grocery store is the opportunity to shop for a wide variety of items. Similar to an American store, you'll find items ranging from produce to seafood, meat, sweets, candy, beverages, and more. Depending on the store you visit, you'll find other items/small shops separate from the Asian groceries. For example, the chain Mitsuwa, a Japan-focused market, has a food court and various vendors offering specialty items like cakes, chocolates, and more.

Around the holidays, you may even see options for gifting, like a Christmas Gift Box or a Belgium Dark Chocolate Madeleine Cookies Gift Box. Whether shopping for a special occasion, looking for new snacks, or exploring the store's offerings, the vast variety means you'll be going home with at least a few goodies on each shopping trip!

Soy Sauce aisle from asian grocery store

Mastering Grocery Shopping: Tips for Navigating Asian Markets

Skip the overwhelm of shopping in an unfamiliar place (and finding the right Asian groceries) by using the below tips.

  1. Make a list of ingredients/items you need. Perhaps you're set on making a specific recipe or want to try certain items, making a list will help ensure you get the items you need. Grocery stores can be stressful, regardless of what type of food is sold. So, it's always better to be prepared.

  2. Download a translation app. While many of the Asian grocery stores have labels noted in English, some items may only be noted in Asian languages. A translation app will help you get the right item everytime.

  3. Head to the store mid-day. Regular customers of Asian grocery stores know the best time to purchase is later morning/early afternoon. Many shops/markets receive their fresh seafood mid-morning. Additionally, food court areas (if your local shop has them) aren't open until around 10-11 am. By heading to the store later, you'll have more options to explore/buy.

  4. Be open to new items. If it's your first time visiting an Asian grocery store, don't be surprised if there are quite a few items you want to try. Leave some room in your budget to try a few new items. You may be surprised with what you enjoy!

Everyday Essentials: Must-Have Items from Asian Groceries

There are many pantry essentials you'll want to grab while at your local Asian grocery store. Here are some must-buy items to keep any Asian pantry ready to go.

Noodles - You'll find quite a few noodle options among other Asian groceries here that you won't likely see at an American store. Try grabbing noodles like Hakubaku Organic Ramen Noodles, udon, soba, or glass noodles. Pick options you're more likely to use at home. If you enjoy soup a lot, lean toward noodles you'd typically include (like ramen). For stir-fries, opt for lo-mein.

Hakubaku Organic Ramen Noodles

For the DIY chef, these dried ramen noodles are perfect for your own take on the dish! In addition to the health benefits, organic wheat gives these ramen a slightly firmer texture. Though ramen first arrived from China in the late 1800s, it didn’t gain widespread popularity until post-WWII, when food was scarce and cooks needed to find uses for their wheat rations. The rest, as they say, is history.

Common Allergens: Eggs, Wheat, Soy

$3.99
9.5 oz

Stock/broth - Of course American shops have broth/stock. However, you won't find the same types of broth/stock flavors as you would in an Asian market. Ensure you grab Ajinomoto Hondashi Soup Stock or miso paste. While they're great for soups/stews, they also make other dishes even more flavorful (like stir-fries!).

Ajinomoto Hondashi Soup Stock

This amazing powder will help you create flavorful hondashi (real broth), the backbone of many Japanese soups and stews like miso soup, oden, shabu shabu, and ramen. It's even mixed into meals like takoyaki and okonomiyaki. But dashi isn't limited to Asian cuisine: you can add this savory powder to just about anything needing a punch of umami.  We can't wait to see what you cook up with instant dashi.

Learn more about what dashi is and how to cook with it in this article.

Common Allergens: Fish.

$5.49
2.11 oz

Other pantry staples to look for while at the Asian grocery store include soy sauce, sesame oil, spices, rice, and sauces (think fish sauce or sweet chili sauce). These will help you achieve more authentic flavors when making Asian recipes.

Ramen Aisle from Asian grocery store

The Frozen Foods Section: Exploring Convenient and Tasty Options

The frozen food section is one of the best spots to find tasty treats in Asian grocery stores. Here, you'll find various seafood, meat, pre-made appetizers, meals, wonton wrappers, and more. Options like ready-to-cook dumplings, steamed buns, and other foods you'd typically find at dim sum are stocked here. If you're new to cooking Asian cuisine, this is a great spot to start as many of the items simply require heating, pan-frying, boiling, or steaming.

You'll see items like Pulmuone Flat Vegetable Dumplings in the frozen section, which just need to be tossed in a pan with oil to create a tasty appetizer/meal. You'll also find delicious desserts in the frozen section, like Patisserie Hokkaido Vanilla Milk Waffle. Similar to an American store, you'll find frozen single portion meals that are quick and convenient to make.

FROZEN
Patisserie Hokkaido Vanilla Milk Waffle

Each bite of this Japanese dessert is sure to be irresistible, and it comes to you frozen so you can enjoy the full fresh taste whenever you'd like. Picture this: a fluffy chewy waffle taco shell surrounding a rich vanilla cream, made with real vanilla bean and milk from Hokkaido. Need we say more?

Common Allergens: Milk, Eggs, Tree Nuts, Wheat, Soy.

Storage: Store in the freezer at 0°F or lower until ready to use. Then, defrost in the fridge before using.

For more information about our Frozen products and how they ship, please click here to see our FAQ section.

$5.99
3.8 oz

Whole Foods from Asia: Fresh Produce and Natural Ingredients

One of the most exciting areas of Asian groceries is the fresh produce and natural ingredients sections. When shopping for fruits and veggies, you'll find tasty options like napa cabbage (a kimchi staple), bok choy, lychees, Asian pear varieties, and more. The produce is delicious, and fun to incorporate into recipes.

Fresh Produce from Asian grocery store

The Evolution of Asian Groceries: From Niche to Mainstream

The availability of Asian groceries has changed quite a bit since the 1970s. Initially, there were only Asian shops in large cities like San Francisco. These shops were far and few between. Most were formed because of Asian immigrants who missed the availability and flavors of foods from their birth country. As more people immigrated to the US from Asian countries in the late 1900s, more and more Asian shops were opened throughout the US.

In the 2000s, more celebrity chefs began focusing on Asian cuisine. Additionally, it has been featured more on social media. Because of these factors, more Asian markets/shops have opened to accomodate demand. Now, it's much easier to find items that were once challenging to get in local stores, like Asian produce, noodles, alternative proteins (like tofu), etc.

Chips aisle from Japanese Grocery Store

Conclusion: Asian Groceries as a Gateway to Cultural Discovery

Besides variety and affordability, purchasing Asian groceries helps you explore Asian cultures and cuisines. Diversifying your kitchen means you get to try new and exciting items. You never know, these new foods and flavors may turn out to be some of your favorites. Food is a great way to connect with people of all cultures, as it allows you to explore their stories through a fun medium - delicious meals.

If you don't have an Asian grocery store nearby, don't fret! You can order Asian groceries online from Bokksu Market. With an array of options ranging from frozen seafood ready to add to sushi rice to delicious snacks and pantry staples, you'll find everything you need to start whipping up Asian-inspired recipes in your home.


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Discover the Essentials: Your Guide to Asian Groceries for Everyday Ne

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