Asia Mekong, Asia Laden, Mitte

I remember reading a funny piece in The Guardian about a stay at home dad who used to shop like a pensioner; meaning he would only buy one or two things on one shopping trip so he had something to do, “an outing” if you will, later in the day. It strikes me that he wasn’t being funny. I do the same thing now. I will organize a whole day around getting one ingredient.

As yesterday was a glorious day, even by spring standards, I decided to walk to Hackesher Markt to visit my favourite Asia Laden, Asia Mekong.  I am reading Kitchen Chinese: A Novel about Food, Family, and Finding Yourself, which is a cute book that seems to have the same protagonist as the one in The Devil Wears Prada but in China, eating Chinese food.  Then I opened this month’s Delicious magazine and saw a recipe for Chinese crispy duck with pancakes presented by Fuchsia Dunlop (whom I love because of her great book Shark’s Fins and Sichuan Pepper but also because I like saying her name out loud).  That and the fact that I am in a city surrounded by tons of Asian restaurants that turn out less than mediocre food means I am always craving something “Asian”.  I resolved on the spot to make Fuchsia’s recipe (wow, I even like writing her name!).

A little on Asia Laden’s.  They are not just for shrimp paste and noodles but also for more basic things like soft brown sugar.  I spent about two weeks when I first moved here buying “brauner Zucker” only to get home and find they contained a caramel coloured granulated sugar.  It took about five packets before someone finally clued me in, soft brown sugar? Asia Laden.  You won’t find it anywhere else (except for the food halls of KaDeWe or Galeria but expect to pay a lot more).  They also have Indian spices and other “ethnic’ ingredients; for example I bought some Gram flour yesterday (to make some quick pita bread).  You can pick up a bamboo steamer for 3.50.  Or some Banana Sauce (had to look this one up myself, it’s a ketchup like sauce made from bananas).

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