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10 Reasons to shop at your local Asian grocer

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Stock your kitchen!

If you've never shopped at your local Asian grocery store, you're missing out on big flavors. Drop by and pick up these 10 ingredients to expand your tastes.
Groceries from H Mart
Photo credit: baltamour carla via Flickr

Whether you're familiar with Asian cuisine or not, your local Asian grocery store or supermarket is a treasure trove of awesome food. Discover 10 reasons why you should visit an Asian market to stock up on tasty ingredients.

1

You can't beat the noodle selection

Expand your noodle horizons. Shop for fresh noodles and packaged noodles to spice up your favorite chicken soup recipe or take on a stir-fry dish. As an added bonus, many noodles at the Asian market are gluten-free. Look for rice noodles, tapioca noodles and buckwheat noodles. Always read packages carefully as some may be processed around wheat.

2

You'll find a variety of produce options at great prices

In many cases, produce at the Asian market is cheaper than what you'll find at major grocery stores. On top of that, you can pick up cool hard-to-find items like Asian cabbage, dragon fruit, specialty peppers and durian. The Asian market may become your go-to shopping destination for greens and mushrooms once you check out the selection.

3

The butcher has hard-to-find cuts of meat

When it comes to meat, the Asian grocery store is all about unique cuts. This is where you can find excellent pork belly, oxtail, duck, quail eggs, tripe and goat. Many markets also carry an impressive selection of fish, including live crab and shrimp. Talk to the butcher at your local Asian grocery store to find the exact cuts you're looking for.

4

You can stock up on tasty sauces

Give your everyday meals unique flavor by browsing the aisles of the Asian grocery store. We've all used Sriracha sauce, but what about oyster sauce, fish sauce and plum sauce? Each of these sauces imparts a unique flavor. Experiment and see what works for you as ingredients and condiments. Fish sauce is intensely flavorful, so spend a little extra on a good brand that will last you a long time.

5

The beverage cooler is full of surprises

The Asian market has 7-11 beat when it comes to interesting drinks. Not only is the selection unique, it's generally priced well. Shop for canned coffee, coconut water, iced tea and juices. Feeling adventurous? Try Calpico, yogurt drinks or cult favorite Ramune — a soda you open with a marble.

6

You'll find snacks for every craving

If you've never had Asian snacks before, the snack aisle at your local market can be a little overwhelming. Where else can you find dried squid next to shrimp-flavored potato chips? Go outside your comfort zone. You'll be surprised by what you like, whether it's wasabi covered peas or red bean candy.

7

You can satisfy your sweet tooth in new ways

From Japanese mochi to Vietnamese pastries, Asian desserts offer tantalizing flavor combinations that may be new to you. Look for fresh desserts and packaged goods like rice buns stuffed with sweet custard paste.

8

The premade food beats your grocery store's deli

You may have to do some legwork to find a local Asian market with a wide "deli" food selection, but once you score you'll be addicted. Fresh dumplings, Korean barbecue, stir-fry dishes, bahn mi and classic dim sum are just a quick microwave session away.

9

Take home frozen versions of your favorite meals

Everyone turns to frozen dinners and lunches once in a while. Try dishes you've never made at home before, like barbecue pork buns, spring rolls, fish cakes and Asian soups. Scour the freezer section carefully. You'll also find cuts of meat and unique seafood such as squid and octopus.

10

The seasonings and spices give your recipes new flavor

If you make rice at home, furikake is your new best friend. This dry condiment is shaken on top of rice. It comes in a huge variety of flavors, often with a salty flavor profile. Make your own miso soup easily with dashi and red miso paste. Add white pepper to almost anything to give it a kick. You can even pick up the seasonings you already use in the kitchen at better prices.

More food shopping tips

Supermarket find: Good greens that last longer
Writing a shopping list that cuts your grocery bill
5 Ways to save money on groceries

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