Thanks to Chris for finding a random-ass framed piece of Asian culture from his bachelor days. He knew that would come in handy if we kept it…
I love Asian food. LOVE. I think it goes back to the fact that my mom and dad were obsessed with a restaurant called “Wans” in the city neighboring ours. That place had the best sizzling rice soup, and I remember how exciting it was to hear that hot rice hit the water, puffing a cloud of steam up and encasing would-be gross vegetables in a mild and tasty chicken broth so they were edible.
As an adult, I’ve sought out and enjoyed Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, and Chinese restaurants, to name a few. I’ve even ventured far from my fish-hating roots to try sushi in a Japanese place. What I’ve discovered, though, is that it is both difficult to FIND decent Asian food, and difficult to TRUST decent Asian food. As a result, I began trying to make my own at home.
My first attempts into the world of Asian cookery began as limp, soy-sauce-centric stir-fry with white rice. Terrible. I thought that one could only get good Asian
food in a restaurant. But I kept experimenting, mainly because Fort Collins had absolutely ZERO edible Chinese food. It was horrific to find that my college destination couldn’t deliver a decent beef with garlic sauce or hot and sour soup when I was hungover and desperately craving them. So I kept trying.
The breakthrough for me was when I discovered the phenomenon of the Asian market. This was only recently, right before I left for Texas. The Asian market was, frankly, terrifying. It smelled funny, had a lot of very in-tact fish and what looked like insects, and everyone was far, far too short to be an actual human being. Once I navigated through the throng of foreign Lilliputians, I found shelves upon shelves of boxes and jars that were marked only with Asian writing. I can’t read that shit to save my life. It’s not like when you come across something French or Italian and you can vaguely, through deductive reasoning, come up with some guess of the product within. This stuff was EXTREMELY foreign. But I found what I was looking for (panang curry paste for the ever-important panang chicken) as well as a TON of other stuff to experiment with. Since then, I’ve made amazing Indian curries with homemade yeast naan, fabulous Thai curries that take only minutes to make, and egg rolls that hold a place in my heart as favorite fried foods.
When we moved to Texas, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to find an Asian Market to feed my foreign foods habit. We got detoured, due to this cities pathetically inadequate roads system, through a tiny Asian “village,” and saw something called “AsiaMart.”
Days later we went in, and the place SMELLED LIKE WET DICK. Seriously, it was awful. Pirate Hookers, after months at sea, selling their peasant-y bodies to bands of swarthy, unwashed, one-eyed, parrot-toting rebels, with nary a shower in sight, couldn’t have handed their intimate garments over and produced such a rancid, fishy scent. Ugh. And the aisles were sparse and lacking in the fundamentals I’ve come to expect from a decent Colorado Asian Market. The upshot was that they had most of what I needed, including some beautiful wood-ear mushrooms. So I’ve been doing a lot of spring roll bowls and wontons in the last couple of weeks. Last night I made pork and ginger potstickers with fresh ponzu, and a bowl of hot and sour soup that is AT LEAST as good as 90% of the hot and sour I’ve had at restaurants.
The sad thing is that now I am always reluctant to go to Asian restaurants, because I know I can make it at home out of ingredients that are fresh and organic, and less likely to be domestic pets.