Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Tracking down exotic ingredients

Today I went shopping in Napa for some of the specialty ingredients that I will need to prepare a Vietnamese dinner. I started at our local Trader Joe?s, but didn?t get nearly as lucky as I?d hoped. I was only able to find cellophane noodles, fish broth, jasmine rice, and orange roughy filets for my Hanoi Yellow Fish Nuggets. Afterwards, I went to Napa?s best gourmet grocery store looking for the remaining items, but did not find any of the other Asian ingredients I needed. I thought about trying the health food store next door, where, in a pinch, I can sometimes buy hard-to-find ingredients at hugely inflated prices, but by that time, it was closed, which in this case, wasn?t a bad thing.

When I got home, I logged onto the Internet in hopes of finding an online source for my missing Asian ingredients, and Eureka! After a few tries with the Yahoo search engine, I discovered AsianFoodGrocer.com, which has an amazing selection of all the basic items for most every Asian cuisine, all at bargain prices. And best of all, shipping is free on orders of $50 or more. Since all I needed to complete my Vietnamese ingredients list were nuoc mam, spring roll wrappers, and Chinese 5-spice powder, I did a little advance shopping for my next Japanese dinner, and added a few Chinese items to make up the difference. At those prices, and no shipping charges, it sure beats driving to Oakland, with gasoline at $2.50 a gallon. And hey, as an added bonus, a cute UPS guy will truck all the boxes up the stairs and deliver them to my door. What a fantastic deal!