Sunday, 15 April 2012

Ethnic Market Adventures

There's this amazing nondescript noodle factory in town - who knew?  And with fresh noodles for 99 cents a pound?  Hell yes!  I bought five pounds of medium and large-size stir-fry noodles.  I'll definitely be visiting Mei Mei again, as I have the most noodle-eatingest kid in the world.  And bonus: there's a fortune cookie factory next door.

Next was the Asian Food Center, a paradise of sauces and oils... (and a really pungent fish smell, but that generally comes with the territory)  Seriously, SO many brands of soy sauce, rice wine, marinades and oils and pickles and... just everything!  It was overwhelming, perplexing, and fascinating.  I'd have spent hours in there if I wouldn't have incurred stranger looks than I usually get...

And finally my introduction to the wonderland that is 99 Ranch market.  First stop was to do something I've thought about every time I visit Chinatown - what do those roast ducks that hang in windows by the dozen taste like?  They look delicious and smell divine, so they have to be good, right?  I ordered a half-duck, but what with the language barrier, the butcher thought my slicing motion meant that I wanted a whole one, cut up, and I thought better of trying to correct the misunderstanding...

And good news, everyone!  After 4 pm duck tongues are half price!

Some more roasted and barbecued meatnesses.

 Errrrrr.... I've had a bung gut before.  It's no fun.  And I wouldn't recommend porking during it.

What is this?  I don't even....

You had me at "yummy."  I should have got some of this.

The swag: about 7 pounds of various noodles, a 5-pack of garlic for 89 cents (!), snow peas, the accidental duck, mirin, sesame oil, chili oil, Char Siu sauce for pork, a can of coconut cream for macaroons, and a marvellous delight called coconut bread (incredible toasted with homemade cranberry orange marmalade).

Now, as to the duck - I was disappointed overall.  The amount of useable meat on it was only enough for one good-sized meal.  The thing was unpleasantly fatty.  Nonetheless - I tossed the carcass in a pot with chopped onion, garlic, and carrots, black pepper, star anise, and coriander to make stock that bubbled away merrily on the hob for a few hours, making the house smell amazing.  Refrigerating this overnight also gave me a beautiful layer of duck fat that I scraped off and have squirreled away for special dishes.  Culinary gold!

The meat I was able to wrest from the beast was a tad oily for my taste, so I shredded it and baked it in the oven a bit before doing a stir fry with noodles and snow peas with oyster, chili, and soy sauces.  Very flavourful and I enjoyed every bite!  Next time, though, I think I'd find a packaged duck breast if I wanted it again, and cook it myself without all the hoo-ha.

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