Fun Chinese Grocery Finds
Updated: Nov 30, 2021
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”.
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 Asian stores. They are great for healthy snacking and a gateway to other forms of seaweed for newbies or children. Make sure they have no additives.
7. Canned Lychees and other Fruits
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. Any child that complains about boring apples can get behind longan, or delicious mango. Serve chilled or over ice.
8. Rice and Rice paper
Purple rice, tick. Sticky rice, tick. The rice aisle is much more fun than your supermarket's one. Are there any kids out there who don't like rice? The rice paper discs can be made into sweet and savory rolls but also can come in handy for after school projects. Try drawing a flower with edible ink for cake decorating.