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Vietnamese Ingredient Sources


mikeycook
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I bought a copy of Hot Sour Salty Sweet a couple of years ago and, while I enjoy reading it immensely, I have found that I cook very little from it due to the difficulty of finding some of the ingredients. I realized I may be having one of two problems, either...

a. I do not know the right places to go to find vietnamese ingredients in NYC or

b. The ingredients are extremely hard to find, even in New York, and I would be better off starting with a different cookbook.

Recently, I have been on a Vietnamese kick (eating, not cooking) and it has rekindled my interested in trying to cook Vietnamese food. Can anyone tell me...

1. Good sources of Vietnamese ingredients in NYC, particularly the ones in Hot Sour Salty Sweet?

2. Is there another cookbook I should start with instead that, while perhaps less authentic, would have ingredients I can get reliably in NY?

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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There is a phenomenal Vietnamese market just off the corner of Bowery and Grand, on the south east part of the street, 2 doors down from Grand (more or less). I'd give you the name, but I have no idea what it is... Look for the place on the northeast corner of the street that specializes in fresh tofu, and its a few doors down from there. They have pretty much everything Vietnamese you could want.

Otherwise, what specific ingredients are you looking for?

Edited to add:

We've really never found an asian ingredient that can't be had in or around Chinatown, or in the case of some exotic Japanese ingredients, Mitsuwa in Edgewater. But you do have to know exactly where to look, and in some cases, the exact ethnicity of the ingredient you're looking for - it took forever to track down Hokkien noodles like we had in Australia, but once we found out they were actually Malaysian, it was a (relative) snap to find them...

Edited by Dryden (log)

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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Yea, I agree w/Dryden, everything more or less can be found in C-Town.

I don't know if it's still there, but I remember a small store next to Fried Dumpling on Mosco St. http://newyork.citysearch.com/profile/11647403 that had all sorts of sc's, noodles, spices etc for Thai and Vietnamese cooking. I w/chk that one too.

That wasn't chicken

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That's a good one (on the Bowery) and there are a couple of markets on Grand St. that will have most, if not all, of the ingredients you seek. One is on the SE corner of Grand & Eldridge. Another is on the NE corner of Grand and Forsyth. They both have fruit/vegetable vendors outside but you need to go inside for all the jars, cans, spices, noodles, etc.

If it's closer for you, check out the market on the west side of Lafayette, just south of Grand St. Lots of Vietnamese stuff.

And finally, if you have some hard-to-find Thai ingredients. there's a tiny market on Mosco St. in Chinatown, where the staff is actually friendly enough to help you. I have brought in a cookbook or two and they were able to help me find the ingredients listed in the books.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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So, they would have things like the following (pardon my ignorance, but a lot of these ingredients are new to me):

- bird chiles

- banana chiles

- black rice

- fermented fish paste

- hog plums

- kaffir limes

I am sure I can find substitutions for some of these things, but wanted to get as close to what the recipes ask for as possible.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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You can find all of the chiles, the rice and the lime (leaves, anyway) at Kalyustyan's on Lexington. I'm not sure I've ever seen a fresh kaffir lime.

By fermented fish paste, you mean nuoc mam?

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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So, they would have things like the following (pardon my ignorance, but a lot of these ingredients are new to me):

- bird chiles

- banana chiles

- black rice

- fermented fish paste

- hog plums

- kaffir limes

I am sure I can find substitutions for some of these things, but wanted to get as close to what the recipes ask for as possible.

The place on Mosco St. definitely has had fresh kaffir limes (when in season) as well as the leaves frozen. I've bought fish paste there and on lafayette st. as well. Hog plums - hmmmm - bring in the translations with you (makawk, for instance) and they're very helpful. Chilis, black rice are fairly easy to find - if you have trouble in C'town, for sure at Kalustyan's!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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You can get the birdseye chilis at numerous stores in Chinatown and Flushing, and also at stores selling Indian items. They're the firey little green hot peppers (sometimes a bit red, too, which just means they are riper). They might be cheapest at Udon's Thai-Indonesian store on Bayard between Mulberry and Mott.

I don't know what banana chilis are.

Black rice is used in Malaysian, Indonesian, and Thai desserts, so again, check Udon's and the Thai store on Mosco St., but you should be able to find these in various places.

I have no idea what hog plums are. Doesn't sound halal. :laugh: Are they in fact a variety of plum?

One good sort of catchall East/Southeast Asian store is Hong Kong Supermarket. I feel sure you'd find fish paste there, probably in several varieties; their selection of pastes, preserved items, and sauces is impressive and inexpensive. But the places I usually go if I'm looking for just Southeast Asian items are the aforementioned Thai stores plus a store on the west side of Mulberry between Bayard and Canal.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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On mulberry between canal and bayard there are two stores that have many SEA products. They are both on the west side of the street. I can't rem the name of the first place but it's right below canal, the entrance is a few steps down from the sidewalk, and the have a sushi maker in the window. This place is a good source for japanese ingredients in chinatown. The other place is called Asia Market Corp and is right next to Pho viet restaurant. they have many malay, thai, phillipine and viet ingredients here. They also supply many restaurants, so if you don't see want you want just ask. For example, I know they always have thai basil, but you have to ask for it.

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Thanks for all the help everyone. The hog plums are one item that they indicate substitutions for, so I think I am good on everything else. Can't wait to try my first recipe. :biggrin:

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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What do they say you can substitute for the hog plums? (Though I wouldn't give up on them right away; do you have the Vietnamese name for them?)

To be honest, the cookbook is up at our house (will be getting over the weekend), but looking at the index from Amazon I saw there was a specifc entry for substitutions. If no one else does first, I will post the answer over the weekend.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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What do they say you can substitute for the hog plums? (Though I wouldn't give up on them right away; do you have the Vietnamese name for them?)

They're known as makawk in Thai and Lao.

Tomatillos are the substitute.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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