There's lots to love about Asian Marts: reasonable prices, endless aisles of sauces and live fish tanks. To my mind though the festive atmosphere is a distant second to the lack of mainstream values regarding physical space. Old ladies plow straight into you at the Asian marts and I love it! I think it's fun to shove my way through crowds. I've woven my way to the front a lot as a short girl so having a place where this behavior is culturally acceptable warms my heart.
I'll tell you though that Lunar New Years Eve at the Asian Mart was not my favorite. It was packed with people carrying roast duck which instantly filled me with unrequited envy. Plus, and no offense to all non-asians as well as 1/2 of myself but there were so many non-Asians there and they were not acting right! I felt extremely annoyed at all the good-natured white people wandering around the aisles, carefully reading labels and making chatter with their friends. "No, we need THICK SOY SAUCE" they'd shout to each other across the aisles. I wanted to shake them "NO, no, no. Stop behaving like this at the Asian Mart. You are supposed to bump people out of the way and grab things quickly!"
This of course is extremely hypocritical on my part becuase this is exactly how I act at the Asian Mart. It's not like I can read Chinese so I'm pulling the same shenanigans myself, spending 20 minutes looking for frigging preserved Tianjin vegetables.
It's a confusing cultural conundrum, or maybe it's not. Maybe I was just dripping wet from the rain and in a ridiculous rage because it wasn't my day to eat roast duck and get red envelopes from doting aunties. Poor, poor me.
The chaos at the Asian Mart was such that I spent 30 minutes there and still came home with only 80% of the ingredients needed for my dish. By this point I was wild-eyed with hunger and residual duck rage was threatening to spill out of my eyes in a self-indulgent sob fest. (Am I the only one who gets this upset when hungry? No? Just me and my toddler?) So, this week you won't be reading about pad thai as I originally planned you'll be reading about the noodles that I made up with the random stuff I bought. I present to you "Perez Improv Noodles"
- 1 packet of noodles (I used fresh shanghai noodles)
- 3 shallots
- Lots of chopped garlic
- 1 Tbs curry paste
- frozen shrimp (defrosted)
- 1 carrot-julienned
- 2 Tbs of fish sauce
- 2 Tsps of brown sugar
- Green onions to taste ( I like a lot)
- Cilantro for topping
- Cook noodles. Duh.
- While noodles are cooking heat up the oil, it should be not-messing-around-hot. Add the garlic, shallots and curry. Stir fry for about two minutes or until fragrant. Pay attention. Don't burn it!
- Throw in shrimp, brown them, but don't overcook. Rubbery shrimp is a gross waste.
- Add carrots, fish sauce and sugar; bring to a boil.
- Divide noodles between serving bowls and mix in portions of your topping. Top with green onions and cilantro.
- Forget about the roast duck debacle. Slump in your chair with clear eyes and a full belly. Nap (optional-but suggested for rainy days)