82 The List 14— 27June I991
[CEOD Full of Eastern
Catherine Fellows encounters the mysteries ofthe orient on the shelves ofScotland‘s Asian groceries.
Chinese and Indian restaurants and takeaways have become such an integral part ofScottish eating that they are now as common as fish and chip shops. But it is still largely the Asian communities who make use of the specialist stores which supply the restaurateurs with everything from coriander to chopsticks.
To the average European cook. these places remain thrillineg l foreign and reveal the disparity between familiar menus that have been modified for Western tastes l and the food that Asians themselves eat. They are well worth exploring for a nurnberof reasons. My 1 curiosity overcame my initial ' apprehension at the baffling hieroglyphs and equally impenetrable conversations between retailers and customers.
I couldn’t get enough of the atmosphere: the shelves stacked full of weird and wonderful ingredients. the smells — even if I wasn‘t brave enough to ask whether a packet of white jelly was animal. vegetable or mineral. let alone to experiment with cooking it. I might have felt that I was wandering into a private family home. or an obscure museum. but the retailers I subsequently approached were extremely helpful; happy to enlighten me about the huge variety of products and their typical uses.
Not only do these emporia stock just about anything even the most challenging Asian recipe could require. but they offer a wealth of ingredients that can be successfully integrated into the hybrid brand of cooking that many people have adopted these days. Eastern foods are a particularly valuable resource for vegetarians who cannot benefit from the tasty meat-dependent tips ofthe European tradition. Chinese supermarkets. for example. usually ,9 stock a wide range of tofu or bean curd products. and other high-protein foods such as cashew nuts. often at a fraction ofthe price of health and whole food shops. Also. such concentrated foods as dried mushrooms and misos (Japanese fermented soy bean pastes) are excellent bases for soups and stews.
There are countless Asian-run grocers shops which pack an astounding range oforiental foodstuffs— the ubiquitous Rajah spice tins. ‘real' soy sauce. creamed coconut — onto shelves already weighed down with baked beans and cornﬂakes. There are also more retailers who claim to be specialist stores than I have room to include here. The seven outlets below were
LUNCH — 12—2.30pm EVENINGS — 6—1 1pm (last orders 10.30pm)
1Q anchor close
EDINBUPGH ‘ 2228 5149-
chosen either because they were recommended by one of the cities' most respected Asian restaurateurs. or. as in the case of Little Japan. because they have something unique to offer. I have picked out some of the features and products that seemed most distinctive of the particular stores. but also tried to give a cumulative picture of some of the things they are all offering. Such is the abundance of all these stores. the chances are they will have what you are looking for.
I Chan’s 37—39 Farnell Street. 332 3032. Recommended by Amber Regent. A veritable Chinese oasis this. not only providing a comprehensive range ofChinese foodstuffs. including frozen. ready-prepared dim-sum. but Chinese magazines. newspapers and cookbooks. china ware. electric rice boilers. bamboo steamers. and even mahjong sets. Among the more unusual foods are fresh lychees. longans (similar to lychees with ‘ smooth shells). durians (large soft fruit in jagged shells. foul-smelling but much prized for health-giving
properties). lotus root and water
i: chestnuts. the last two usually only available canned. I Chung Ying 254 Dobbie's Loan. 333 ()333. Recommended by Amber Regent and Mai Thai. Like Chan‘s. Chung Ying has an impressive range of fresh fruit and vegetables. many of which. funnin enough. are grown in Spain. Depending on seasonal availability. you can find papaya. long beans and Chinese watercress here. Apart from Chinese products. Chung Ying also stocks some Japanese essentials such as nori seaweed. shitake mushrooms. wasabi (Japanese horseradish) and
mirin (sweet rice cooking wine).
- I K.R.K. Continental Food Store 286 &
. 288 Woodlands Road. 339-1822.
Recommended by Ashoka West End. In addition to an extensive selection of Indian spices. Chutneys. pulses. flours and rices. K. R.K.
stocks ghee (clarified butter). fresh
halal meat and poultry and some
unusual vegetables. These include karela (prickly gourd). okra. drumsticks (long. green — like okra inside). tindori (small. green — taste
' like cucumber). parvel (another small. green vegetable) and dudi
(like pumpkin. used in curries peeled .
; I Pat’s Chung Ying Supermarket 199/201 Leith Walk. 554 0358.
. Recommended by Chan's. The most
famous and largest of the Edinburgh
Chinese supermarkets: you can
wander down aisles as long as those
at Safeways past shelves loaded with
everything from dried shark fin to
ginseng juice wine and peer into
. freezers containing a spectacular
selection of fish. A huge red snapper would seem to be very good value at £2 per lb. If you are squeamish. though. don‘t linger over the bags of
‘ frozen chicken‘s feet. Particularly
impressive is the selection of fresh
vegetables: there are six varieties of
Chinese greens alone. including bok
choy (white stems) and choy sum
(slender with tiny yellow flowers)
both delicious stir-fried with garlic
i and served with oyster sauce. There
FLAVOUR OF THE FORTNIGHT
.. A ‘ Chung and Head ChetTommyHo with some culinary secrets
Andy Chung, proprietor and sometime chef of Glasgow’s Amber Regent restaurant, exploits some typical Chinese ingredients to create a soup redolent ot the Orient:
CHINESE HOT AND SOUR SOUP
You will need roast or barbecued pork or duck, dried mushrooms (soaked), bamboo shoots, bean curd, green peas, Chinese vinegar(approximately 1 tsp), chicken stock and water. Shred the meat and vegetables into strips all roughlythe same size. Bring the chicken stock and water to the boil (obviously the greaterthe proportion oi stock, the richerthe soup). Add all the ingredients as well as salt and chilli (powder or oil) to taste. Thicken the soup with a little cornllour mixed to a paste with water. Add a few drops of sesame oil and serve. The chef did not give quantities, the recipe being very llexible— add more or less at this or that as you like. Amber Regent, 50 West Regent Street,
Glasgow, 041 331 1655.