12.9.08

Toko Pointers


If, like me, you're always wondering about all those weird and exciting products in the Chinese supermarkets – here’s the website for you: Tokowijzer

I often go to the Dun Yong store on the Geldersekade, where they have little labels on the shelf explaining in somewhat adorable English what to do with their stuff. Like "Do not use this if you do no know what to do with it"; or "If you like dumplings, time to make your own use these wrappers!" But still, there are so many things there that just look plain scary (or even unedible...), and most times I leave with yet another bottle of sesame oil and some noodles, instead of trying out new things. I need Tokowijzer and I'm probably not alone! Not only do they tell you what everything is, they also explain how it tastes, give links to recipes, the best brands to buy, and how to use it.

One of the 2 founders of this website is kattebelletje (who, in real life, goes by the name of Alice) with whom I’ve been e-mail corresponding for a while now, about subjects as diverse as food, writing, language, dumplings and moving house. This weekend she sent me a message that she had some time to kill in Amsterdam and would I like to go shopping with her? We talked, had coffee, explored the little corners of personal life that don’t get touched upon in the public blogosphere, and then visited 3 Chinese supermarkets. She told me about Sichuan pepper oil, the best chili bean paste, these freakishly weird looking things,

water caltrop

..why sweet bean sauce tastes better than hoisin sauce, what to do with tofu sheets and thousand year eggs, which brands of ready made dumplings to buy, and lots of other stuff that I can’t remember now.. I feel I should have taken notes!



I'm sure we'll meet again, hopefully for a jiaozie (dumpling)-making session. Right now I have to thank my personal Tokowijzer for introducing me to century eggs... something I never would have bought on my own. We had them as a side dish with dinner tonight, per Alice's instructions with some black vinegar and ginger and scallions. They were much milder tasting than I expected, but I did find them very rich - I liked the flavour a lot, but still could not manage more than about half an egg. It reminded me of my reaction to offal like kidneys or sweetbreads.

Oh and the water caltrop? The woman at the store said you could eat them raw, this article does not seem to agree, so I'm glad we only nibbled on the raw ones. I bought them more for their strange and beautiful appearance anyway.

More Chinese adventures tonight!

8 comments:

MEM said...

Well aren't you a lucky little rabbit, with your own personal tokowijzer.

I too have never tasted a century egg, maybe if you have one left you can leave it in my mailbox before you head to the states. Or do you think it'll go bad? Ahahahahahahahhaha...

MEM said...

Ah, I got so carried away with my tremendous humor that I forgot to include the intended point of my comment: I think that that radis chinois is one of my favorite recent ingredients, stir-fried with pork and ginger...

Klary Koopmans said...

radis chinois, pork, ginger, anything else? might make that for dinner tonight...

kattebelletje said...

It was fun! Just pointing at stuff and then you buying it.
Glad you liked the century eggs! Did you add Chinese vinegar?
My last fresh Radis Chinois started to sprout in the fridge and is now in bloom in its little flower pot.

gnoegnoe said...

OMG! PLEASE tell me what to do with tofu sheets! Being a vegetarian and only buying vegetable stuff I do dare buy weird products in these shops sometimes, but then I can't figure out what to do with them... aargh ;) Like the tofu sheets that are lying on my shelf for a while now! Please help? ;)

Other 'useless' stuff hanging around here: ginko nuts, dehydrated tofu cubes, rice flakes and a rice mix to which I should add green tea or something... LOL

Tnx for the link to Tokowijzer, it might come in handy!

And it sounds like you had a really nice day :)

gnoegnoe said...

*Apologies!* I had looked in the Tokowijzer for tofu sheets, but apparently I not good enough... But your/kattebelletjes tips will be appreciated anyway!

Klary Koopmans said...

gnoe, tokowijzer is ever expanding their list of weird toko stuff, so it´s worth it to check back there often!

Jayavo said...

I like the eggs