This is going up a day late because sometimes, life gets in the way. OK, I was making snowflakes on the create-a-snowflake site. Sorry.
We are trying the recipes for a new food today - Korean Tacos! We have been fans of Korean food for a long time, so we're already familiar with the flavors, and eager to try them in this new style.
I needed bean sprouts, napa cabbage, cilantro, limes, etc...and none of that was on special in the supermarkets, so I hit a couple ethnic stores instead. As soon as I got into Rancho Liborio, I committed to make sure I get there more often. Rancho Liborio is a huge Hispanic market with lots of really great prices. Here are a few I got:
Padilla Peppers (the ones for chiles rellenos) 1.39/lb.
green onions 49 cents a bunch
cilantro .25 a bunch (big bunches too!)
limes .79 a pound
roma tomatoes .58 a pound
24 tostada shells for 97 cents
They also had great prices on apples (58 cents a pound), oranges (3lb./1.29) and several meats. I don't think you can beat the prices for peppers anywhere - jalapenos were .69 a pound, and they weren't on sale. Overall, with just a few exceptions, all the produce was priced low and in great condition.
Just to warn you, though - ethnic markets often have some things in the meat counter you might not be used to seeing, like beef toungue, tripe, whole chickens that still have heads and feet (but they are scalded, plucked, and fully prepped), gizzards, various animal heads, etc. Depending on who you are, this is either really really good, or really really icky.
On the other hand, check out the bakery or the deli at at ethnic market and you'll fall in love all over again!
The other store we went to was the Asian Pacific Market. Again, this is a huge store that sells every condiment, noodle, and Asian vegetable you can think of, along with quite a few you never even heard of. They have fresh fish - so fresh that they are still swimming in tanks - and and entire aisle of different brands of soy sauce. They also sell Little Bit's favorite Asian treat - Hello Panda. It's a wee cookie with a shot of frosting (various flavors) inside. Kind of like Yan-Yan without all the work of dipping.
Anyway, we picked up some won bok (napa cabbage) to make kimchee. It was .69 a pound - not necessarily cheaper than I can get it in a supermarket, but very definitely fresher. The ginger is always better here too, and costs next to nothing. We grabbed a few bean sprouts and some raw peanuts in the shell too, along with some hot chili oil, all for about $6.
Not every area has ethnic markets, but if you have them where you live, check them out. Often, they have the best prices on fresh produce, hard-to-find items specific to the culture, and herbs and spices. Look around, ask questions if you get the chance, and see what they have to offer. You might just find a fantastic deal on a new food adventure.