Recently, I've started hearing the same complaint from my my friends---they can't seem to find good fresh groceries for reasonable prices. Or, actually anything for reasonable prices in NYC. I'm no expert on bargain hunting here, but I have found a few good deals that I'll share over the next few posts, or whenever I remember.
This post is about my first, and best discovery about Manhattan, or anywhere that has a Chinatown.
Anyone who knows me knows I love Chinatown. I live in Manhattan now, but I don't discriminate--I love Chinatowns everywhere. There's something about the little shops, the mysterious menus, the dirtiness and crowds that I just can't stay away from. And, I just loooove me some cheap Chinese food. I can't help it! Chinese food is my comfort food, which my friends can attest to after being dragged for dim sum, for Chinese baked goods or just for dumplings, many, many more times than they'd care to admit. I've even rubbed off on a few of them to the point where they've become dumpling addicts too (cough cough sorry Cap).
Located deep in the heart of any good Chinatown is about the secret I'd like to share with you today--Chinese grocery stores. If you go to the right one, they have, far and away, the freshest, cheapest groceries in New York City that I've found to date. Yes, the employees probably don't speak English, and yes, you may have to wad through aisles of soy sauce before you get to the goodies (although in my opinion, soy sauce IS a goody!) but where else can you get avocados and bok choy and already peeled garlic for 1/3 of Food Emporium's price? Hong Kong Supermarket, on 157 Hester Street, that's where. (If you happen to be in St. Louis--check out the grocery store on Olive st.!)
Go, right now! Because not only can you get fresh fruits and veggies, you can get all sorts of delicious sauces, noodles, and your very own set of chopsticks! I headed down there this time because I was on the hunt for Fish Sauce, which is a staple in Thai cooking. I, for some reason, was having a craving for a Thai-inspired salad.
Fish sauce smells kind of funny, but it adds a saltiness similar to soy sauce in dips, marinades and dressings.
It was going to be the base for my Thai inspired salad dressing.
The next thing on my grocery list was rice noodles. Rice noodles are super cheap and last nearly forever on your shelf. They're excellent to have around for an impromptu, or quick dinner. To prepare them, you simply need to soak them in lukewarm water and then boil them for about 2 minutes.
The rest of the ingredients for the salad and dressing you probably already have around.
(before you put the dressing together, boil a pot of water)
For the dressing:
about 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of peeled and chopped ginger
1 chopped garlic clove
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon of brown sugar (white sugar is also fine)
chopped chilies or sriracha if you like spicy
My dressing looked like this:
Play with the flavors of your dressing. It should taste salty, sweet, sour and spicy all at the same time.
While you're assembling the dressing, soak the noodles in warm water.
When the dressing is done, throw the noodles into the boiling water for about 2 minutes. Then they're done!
Anything can go into your salad.
I peeled and thinly sliced cucumbers, scallions, cabbage, yellow onion and chopped romaine lettuce.
I also grilled a piece of chicken with a little bit of soy sauce.
Toss everything together.
Eat with your new, lovely chopsticks.
Another awesome deal I recently found is for this cool site that will deliver toilet paper, paper towels, makeup, vitamins...basically anything you can get at your local CVS, at a discount AND get this---delivered to your door either the same day or next day FOR FREE. Talk about lazy AND cheap!
Check it out...
and get 15% off with this code