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nakji

Hard to Find Ingredients

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I move around a lot, so I keep a running inventory of ingredients in my head of items that are "Find/not find" when I read through new cookbooks.

For example, cilantro. All over the place here in China and when I lived in Vietnam, but when I lived in Japan and Korea - virtually impossible. Obviously it's not to the national taste there, and it is here, but when I wanted to make things like salsa, it was frustrating. I'm a much happier cook now that I live in a cilantro-loving culture.

Basil, on the other hand - no. Can't find fresh basil anywhere. For obvious reasons, of course, since Chinese food doesn't traditionally use basil, there's no reason to have it available. Still, nothing quite replaces the taste of fresh basil in many Italian dishes, so even now I'm nurturing several small basil plants started from seeds carried into the country by a friend. I hope they survive the summer. Mint is the same, although fortunately the tenant in my flat before me was obviously as equally frustrated, so there's a mint plant growing next to the bamboo in my garden. My neighbours were intrigued when I started eating it.

On the other hand, I have access to an incredible range of fruits and vegetables that I never had in any other country. When I return to Canada, I know I'll be frustrated that I can't get fresh bamboo shoots or greens to the freshness and quality I enjoy here.

What can't you find in your 'hood? And how cranky does it make you feel?

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Mushrooms.Here in Oklahoma I can get white button, the occasional shiitake, portobello, the super-common ones. But living in Pennsylvania for five years I had access to a dozen different varieties that changed on a regular basis. It was great, I miss it.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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No, this is a bit of a "meat and potatoes" state. In addition, PA is a major source of mushrooms for the US, and we had Wegman's there (a nice grocery store chain).


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Anything really Mexican.

My sister-in-law is from the U.S so has so many stories of the great mexican restaurants and food available, but here in Australia we seem to only get the real Tex-Mex stuff. There are one or two specialty shops that are starting to have more stuff but they cost a lot and aren't really convenient. Dried chiles are definitely in the suitcase home from anyone's trips to the U.S.

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Maybe you can order from Que Pasa in Vancouver. Dried chilies are pretty lightweight, & easy to post.


Karen Dar Woon

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Taiwanese "three cup chicken" calls for basil leaves, though!


"I'll put anything in my mouth twice." -- Ulterior Epicure

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Anything really Mexican.

My sister-in-law is from the U.S so has so many stories of the great mexican restaurants and food available, but here in Australia we seem to only get the real Tex-Mex stuff. There are one or two specialty shops that are starting to have more stuff but they cost a lot and aren't really convenient. Dried chiles are definitely in the suitcase home from anyone's trips to the U.S.

Check out this thread for some sources of Mexican ingredients in Oz.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Being an extremely multicultural society, it seems you can find most anything here in Sydney if you know where to look. I even scored some yuzu juice recently and there is a variety of Wasabi being grown locally that I have already tried. There are even truffles being grown at various locations around Australia.

Any specialty packaged ingredients can typically be mail ordered from anywhere around the world. For example, I bought pink salt for charcuterie (not pink coloured natural salt, the one with Sodium Nitrite in it) on Ebay from the US. Mind you, the corner of the package was snipped and taped when I got it, courtesy of Customs who obviously analysed the contents for nasty ingredients.

Thankfully you can now also buy tranglutaminase in domestic sized lots here in Australia.

I suppose your question Erin all comes down to what is available fresh locally. If I want to try recipes from overseas cookbooks with speciality regional ingredients, I need to substitute. This becomes an art all in itself to know what is an appropriate substitute if you have not tasted the original dish.

Of course there are some things that cannot be substituted. For example, I'd love to try ramps but suspect it may require a trip to the US in their growing season; of course this is also a problem for people in other areas of the US, not just overseas.

So what I miss out on locally I can always try in planned Gastro-tourism trips. That seems like a silver lining :biggrin:


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I am swiss chef on the lookout for Yuzu. A good yuzu juice would work. Good enough to encorporate it into some simple desserts. It's about time we introduce this rather fasionable flavor to swiss foodies. Fresh would be even better of course. We are located in Basel, Switzerland - but anything accessible over the internet could work too..


About me: Jonas Frei - Artisan Cuisinier / PolyScience, ETI, Kisag, SLB distributor for Switzerland. 

I started: www.cuuks.com and the Sous Vide °Celsius App

Twitter: @ArtCuisinier

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...

Thankfully you can now also buy tranglutaminase in domestic sized lots here in Australia.

...

WOW !!!

Any brand names to Google, suggested export mail order sources or other helpful suggestions?

While I doubt I'd ever use it routinely, it'd be fun to have a little to play with, maybe once or twice, and AFAIK, domestic sale of the stuff is alien to the UK.

Now, if I could just find a domestic-sized pack of cocoa butter - unlike herbs or chillies, growing a houseplant simply isn't a viable option!


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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...

Thankfully you can now also buy tranglutaminase in domestic sized lots here in Australia.

...

WOW !!!

Any brand names to Google, suggested export mail order sources or other helpful suggestions?

While I doubt I'd ever use it routinely, it'd be fun to have a little to play with, maybe once or twice, and AFAIK, domestic sale of the stuff is alien to the UK.

Now, if I could just find a domestic-sized pack of cocoa butter - unlike herbs or chillies, growing a houseplant simply isn't a viable option!

squires kitchen does cocoa butter (and mycro) in 100g bags for around £5.45/5.95 My link

or you can get 600g of the same mycro(both are callebaut) from HB ingredients for £7.14 (though the delvery charge is a hefty £10)My link

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Ras al hanout. Lots of ME groceries around here but they just don't have it.

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Ras al hanout. Lots of ME groceries around here but they just don't have it.

Blend your own? Recipe stolen from David Everitt-Matthias

15g cumin seeds

5g fennel seeds

10g coriander seeds

4cm piece of cinamon stick

1 dried chilli

5g cardamon pods

5g ground ginger

20g ajowan seeds

7g medium curry powder

6 cloves

20 dried rosebuds

I don't live too near anywhere cosmopolitan, and the rosebuds and ajowan seeds I needed to get mail order. In the UK I got them from www.thespicery.com

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...

Thankfully you can now also buy tranglutaminase in domestic sized lots here in Australia.

...

Any brand names to Google, suggested export mail order sources or other helpful suggestions?

While I doubt I'd ever use it routinely, it'd be fun to have a little to play with, maybe once or twice, and AFAIK, domestic sale of the stuff is alien to the UK.

Try this link. It comes in a 50g pack.


Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Any ingredient necessary for good Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Chinese...etc. so forth and so on...requires a 7 hour road trip to Boston. Isolated, is my feeling.

I was so happy to find a little tiny shop for Japanese groceries in Brookline Village. I stocked up on bonito flakes and konbu and rice crackers for my wee one. We love the Super 88 as well, though all the frozen things that used to make my life easier with two small implings are impossible to transport now.

Also impossible to find basmati rice up here on the other side of the forest (ME). And since we love us some tasty Indian... :sad:

The blueberries up here are awesome, though. And the broccoli. And potatoes. Fiddleheads, when they are out. But what I wouldn't give for a cold seaweed salad today.

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Maybe you can order from Que Pasa in Vancouver. Dried chilies are pretty lightweight, & easy to post.

My go-to source for dried chiles in Canada is Chilly Chiles.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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My go-to source for dried chiles in Canada is Chilly Chiles.

Merci mille fois. Didn't know they were there. Ottawa friends and family visit us quite regularly and now I know what to ask for...


Darienne

learn, learn, learn...

Cheers & Chocolates

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I move around a lot, so I keep a running inventory of ingredients in my head of items that are "Find/not find" when I read through new cookbooks.

For example, cilantro. All over the place here in China and when I lived in Vietnam, but when I lived in Japan and Korea - virtually impossible. Obviously it's not to the national taste there, and it is here, but when I wanted to make things like salsa, it was frustrating. I'm a much happier cook now that I live in a cilantro-loving culture.

What can't you find in your 'hood? And how cranky does it make you feel?

One of my friends had a year's teaching contract (Eng. Lit.) in Hamamatsu in 2007 and was able to find rau ram (Polygonum odoratum) which substitutes nicely for cilantro and is ridiculously easy to propagate as just sticking the stems in water will produce significant root structures in just a few days. Once established, it is a perennial.

He said that he often dined in a local restaurant that served a whole fish that was stuffed with a mixture that included the cilantro-flavored leaves and he asked what it was and where to find it. He was directed to a street market where he found several "exotic" ingredients not available in the regular markets but would never have gone there had he not asked.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Wegmans! I miss Wegmans more than any family or friends from NJ. The variety and quality of items they sell always inspired me to cook new things. We have Whole Foods in Santa Fe but the prices are obscene and I just don't get inspired. On the other hand, I can't imagine life without 'red and green'!


KathyM

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I grew up in NJ and am now call SC home. It's a big culinary culture shock.

Good bread is near impossible to find. Here anything that resembles decent bread is "artisan", whereas where I came from it was just what bread was. It of course has the "artisan" price tag as well. Somewhat along the same theme, what I would give for an honest to goodness bagel or bialy. And I'd give even more for a sfogliatelle! I miss the baked good of a real bakery as well.

Good Italian sausage is even harder to find. And yes, mushrooms are near impossible here as well. It took me forever to find something besides bell and hot peppers.

Good meat at a reasonable price is also poor in comparison and forget the seafood unless you buy it frozen in a bag or go to Fresh Market or Whole Foods.

You can find some good stuff if you look, but growing up you just go down the street to the bakery or any grocery store and you got everything I now miss. And I have yet to find comparable pizza. After three years I found an acceptable pizza like substance, but still nothing that is really good.

On the flip side, there's stuff here you just aint gonna find in NJ. I remember the first time I say packages of pigs feet and pig ears, I thought it was hilarious. And of course, the BBQ.


Edited by Lupinus (log)

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Chervil. Easy to find in France, mysteriously absent in the U.S. I've tried growing it, but without success.

Morels. I used to buy them at the farmers markets in St. Louis, for heavens sake. These days when I see them--rarely--they look old and are absurdly expensive.

Small packets of ground saffron. An italian friend used to bring them back to the U.S. regularly, but alas, he's back in Milan and I haven't been to Italy for a long while. Though the quality might not equal the best saffron strands, it was surprisingly good and much more affordable.

I won't get started on cheese.



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