I've commented on several occasions to friends about how much variety I've been finding in the local stores when it comes to Asian cuisine. They've all told me that to really get the big supermarket experience, I had to go check out the T&T markets. And wow, they weren't kidding!
This place was so huge and full of so many things I didn't recognize that I have to admit, the first time I went in one of these stores, I spent several hours there - just completely lost track of time! The store is huge, and not the average dingy little space I once associated with an Asian market. Long tanks of fresh seafood of all kinds. Row upon row of meats, fish, and pre-packaged foods, noodles, dumplings, sauces, spices, and more.
Here you'll find all manner of exotic things - from an entire aisle of dried mushrooms...
...to entire freezers containing different kinds of dumplings. And these weren't even all the dumplings in the store - I kept running into other places in the store that had dumplings, including fresh unfrozen varieties, too.
There are jars with jellyfish of all variety. I haven't yet gotten bold enough to try anything with jellyfish in it, but I have seen it on many menus around town.
And if you're cooking some dish that calls for fresh produce you don't usually find in a western grocery store, it's a pretty good bet that this will be the place to find it.
I think probably the biggest problem for the non-Chinese speaking population is simply the language barrier. Much of this stuff I had absolutely no idea what it was.
"There is something more than you want." Hmmm... that doesn't sound encouraging.
A mix of familiar and unfamiliar flours. Hmmm.. well, I bet that this is where I'll find what I need to make that delicious Chinese Glutenous Coconut Rice Cake that a friend made for us. When I asked her for the recipe, she sent it to me, along with the usual comment for such recipes "You can find all of this at T&T."
The recipe, if you're curious:
What you need: egg (4) , coconut milk (1 can, 400 ml), sugar (50 ml), glutinous rice power (1 bag, 500g), oil (50ml), nuts (some)
- Preheat oven to 3500C degree
- Put eggs, sugar, coconut milk, oil in one big bowl and stir it thoroughly
- Mix it with glutinous rice powder and stir it thoroughly
- Apply some oil on the bottom of the tray and put the well-mixed rice soup into the tray, covered with nuts
- Bake for 40 minutes until it turns light brown
- Take it out, cool down and serve
wow! Turtles? Really?
Each of these stores also have a hot and cold food counter where snacks and lunches can be picked up.
If you're looking for some cheap-eats, this may be just the ticket. The salad bars seemed to have everything but actual lettuce available. Oh yes, even jellyfish.
In any case, it's definitely worth checking out some time! Next time, I'd like to go back with someone who can read the labels for me ;)