• Blanca Valencia

Fun Chinese Grocery Finds

Updated: May 18

Lychee eyeballs? From mochi, pink bubble tea, and pretty paper containers, Blanca Valencia takes you through her goofy and sublime Asian finds.

Asia Market. Photo: Blanca Valencia

1. Hong Bao (Red envelopes)

Snatch those hong baos (the red envelopes used to give money at Lunar New Year) as they come in handy for small gifts like gift cards and small jewellery for children and teenagers. I especially love the pink envelopes. If you have a big plant, use them as you would Christmas baubles to create a Chinese New Year “tree”.

2. Mochi

Mochi, Japanese rice cakes, is my ideal snack for its small size and natural flavour . These ones from Taiwan come in a variety of flavours like green tea, sesame and peanut. There are so many delicious ones to choose from that it’s much easier to go with the mixed box.

3. White take out containers

The white Chinese take out containers sold in bulk at the Asia Market in Ballymount are great for gifting food to friends and neighbours, children’s party favour boxes or fundraising events like bake sales. They can be easily decorated with sparkles, stickers and/or paint.

4. Tapioca pearls for Bubble Tea

We are addicted to bubble tea and have started making it at home using Barry’s tea, milk and sugar and five-minute tapioca pearls. We also make bubble tea with pink milk like in children’s books Charlie and Lola.

5. Chinese Kitchen Utensils

There is always an interesting kitchen utensil at an affordable price to be found. Bamboo Steamers, skimmers (perfect for rescuing fried food out of the pot) and spatulas are good bargains. We never get the perforated paper for steaming because it’s overpriced, try cabbage instead, or even better, muslin, which is reusable and what they use in Din Tai Fung restaurants.

6. Seaweed snacks

Seaweed snacks are always abundant in Chinese stores. They are great for healthy snacking and a gateway to other forms of seaweed for newbies or children.

7. Canned Lychees

Canned lychees always come out at Halloween to make disgusting “eyes” with red paint and blueberries, but don’t overlook them to make fun mocktails.

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