Chinese supermarkets are chock-full of delicious, inexpensive stuff—that we know from many a past meal. Still, for the uninitiated, between the hustle and bustle (and often questionable English signage), the stores can seem like impenetrable fortresses. You know that fuzzy squash-looking thing is cheap, but… what to do with it? We decided to head to a couple of Sunset Park’s staple supermarkets and see what we could find, and how to use the stuff back at home. We compared the prices with those at a couple cheap non-Chinese spots (our local C-Town and Key Food). Here’s what we found:
Hong Kong Supermarket of Brooklyn, 6023 Eighth Ave. at 60th St., Sunset Park, N Train to Eighth Ave.
Taiwan Cucumbers: $0.99/lb
Not your parent’s cucumbers, it’s recommended that you substitute them for some zucchini to make this cheap and unusual salad, perfect for potlucks and the like.
Wasabi: 1.69/3.17 oz container (vs. $2.69/1.52 oz container at Key Food)
Setting throats ablaze since… a really long time ago, everyone’s favorite innocuous looking green paste can be toned down to make a great coleslaw, appropriate for all occasions.
Mangos: 4 for $5 (vs. 2 for $3 at C-Town)
Hindus apparently brush their teeth with the twigs of this popular fruit on holy days (don’t try this at home unless you have a death wish… they’re toxic). A less life-threatening option involves your blender and, eventually, some refreshing salsa.
Bok Choy: $0.69/lb (vs. $3.99 for a 1 lb container at Key Food)
This overpriced veggie elsewhere can be yours for mere quarters. Stick it to the chain grocery store by throwing some in a batch of soba noodles for a cheap and filling meal.
Fei Long Supermarket, 6031 Eighth Ave. between 63rd and 64th Sts., Sunset Park, N Train to Eighth Ave.
Bean Curd Sheets: $2.99/16 oz package
Alternatively labeled as bean curd skins, these ginormous sheets are made from that disgusting film that forms on top of soymilk when heated (hungry yet?). It serves a variety of purposes, but is mainly used as a casing similar to that of an egg roll, as shown in this recipe.
Rice Wine: $1.99/25.4 oz bottle (none to be found at Key Foods)
Rice wine is simply wine that’s made from fermented rice starch converted to sugars, as opposed to using grapes or other fruit. To make it all the more fun, it has 18-25 percent alcohol (beer’s at 3-8 percent), so it’s ideal for partying hard, though we suggest just using it for cooking purposes. Like red wine, it can be used as a marinade or base for a sauce, as shown in this recipe for Stir Fry Glutinous Rice Wine Chicken.
Curry Powder: $5.99/16 oz can (vs. $2.50 for an 8 oz can at Key Foods)
What better way to blow out your sinuses than with curry powder? You can apply this liberally to many dishes for an added kick, though it’s often used in Chinese curry sauces, which can be paired with everything carb-y from rice to potato chips.
Pork Chops: $1.99/lb (vs. $2.29/lb at C-Town)
Pork: the bastard child of the white meat family. Perhaps you can amp up its status with some pan roasted tomatoes?
Fuzzy Squash: $0.89/lb
This delightfully furry fruit can provide hours of entertainment (try to only touch it once, I dare you), and is great for simple snacking. Just don’t forget to peel it unless you want a mouthful of hair. Alternatively, you could try making this nauseatingly-titled hairy gourd bread, which I’m sure is a lot better than it sounds.
Mushrooms: 1.39/lb (vs $2.49/8 oz container at Key Food)
The tastiest fleshy, spore-bearing fungus of them all. The food possibilities are endless. Hint hint: try the risotto, though hold the oysters. Your wallet will thank you later.
Water Chestnuts: $0.69/lb (vs. $1.29 for an 8 oz can at Key Food)
Long a Chinese take-out staple, you may be surprised to learn that this crunchy veggie tastes good even when not taking an MSG bubble bath next to your General Tso. Instead, give a water chestnut cake a try; still gooey, but with less chemical aftertaste.
Edamame: $0.79/1 lb package, special was 2 for $1 (vs. $5.99/pound at Key Food!)
Peel them, suck on the outside shell awkwardly, or blend them into an unorthodox pesto for your favorite pasta. The choice is yours.
Giant Carrots: $0.49/lb (vs. $1/lb at C-Town)
These carrots are huge. Like, enormous. Buy in bulk, share the love with a classy salad.
Pears: $0.99/lb (vs. $1.69/lb at Key Food)
After much contemplation, we realize that there’s nothing funny to be said about pears. The least hilarious fruit ever? Perhaps. Great for baked goods, though.
Horny Goat Weed Tea: $3.49/1.4 oz box
Potential sexy times for a mere $3.49? While you can’t make anything with it (horny goat weed brownies?), the price is right for this ancient Chinese aphrodisiac tea.