It’s a long way from the new year, but I’m still trying to embrace new things in line with that little resolution which seems so far away today.
Enter Saturday night, enter dinner with the friends in law, Chinese in theme and everyone to bring along a dish. Due to some poor forward planning (blame the boy) we found ourselves in serious danger of entering said dinner empty handed 😦 Due to the thankful over preparation of everyone else involved we got away without having a proper dish to take so I voted for a quick trip to the oriental market for some bok choi and anything else that might be able to hide
his our hideous lack of organisation skills.
Bok choi is not new to me, I love it done off lightly in a pan with some oyster sauce, or even some butter and black pepper for the non traditionalists, and as usual I was happy to get a couple of bags for less than three quid. Yay. Not as usual, we also took some time for a wander through the highly stacked aisles and picked up some interesting little bits to try with dinner. Afterall, I love most Chinese food and this produce was about as authentic as it gets (you work out most of the packet contents by the pictures on the front unless you read Mandarin in this shop). There was bound to be some tasty morsels in that lot somewhere, some new unlikely delicacy just waiting to be discovered.
They worked as conversation pieces anyway.
Seaweed strip things
We found these next to various suspicious versions of indistinct meat jerky. I like seaweed of the wakame or sushi variety, this was basically seaweed crisps from the look of it. And how can you not love the look of the bright cartoony packaging? It had to be tried. You can file these with away with nightmare from the deep laverbread type seaweeds. Ick. Dry, ferric and cloying, a bit of a no-no. One kind diner declared them as ‘very seaweedy’. I didn’t try the chilli ones, maybe they were better, but somehow I doubt it.
Refreshing Basil Seed Drink
One must admit, this was picked up as something of a joke after we spent some time marvelling at the radioactive green goop, spotted with ominous floating basil seeds that never settle to the bottom of the bottle. The boy proclaimed that it would ‘really upset’ his sister, so we had to get some.
It really is a whole new level of disgusting. It has the grim aroma of some kind of revolting herbal remedy and frankly I can’t tell you what it tasted of as all my attentions at the time were counteracting my gag reflex against the gelatinous little lumps of basil seed. A drink should not ever have a texture. Eeeeeeeeerck. On the plus side, our youth worker host will be using this to torment his charges later in the year as a ‘drink the frogspawn’ challenge.
Aloe Vera Stuff
Much less offensive than the above seediness, with a very clear crisp taste and only a very slight mediciney aftertaste. It would probably be very good for one’s stomach in quantity what with all the health boosting properties that Aloe Vera has, but this one will never know. Again, this was run through with unpleasant, cloudy lumps of plant which stuck in the throat and made it look unappealingly clotted. Again unlike the basil seed drink, this did get some points on flavour and The In Law claimed it would be quite pleasant as a cocktail base. I’m sure this theory remains unproven for now.
A cautious sampling proved this to be a mixed assortment of bits of fruit and possibly some nuts that had been soaked for several centuries in a very heavy sugar solution, then dried out. We think there was some melon in there and maybe papaya. I got stung with a strip of my old nemesis coconut, as if these little authentic touches weren’t bad enough! It was hard to tell the others apart to be honest, they just tasted like old sugar other than some very small incredibly bitter whole oranges, which those who tasted continued to taste for some time to come. There was a random centre section that looked like hazelnuts with a hole punched through the middle which the daughter of our hosts found very pleasing indeed. Overall, could have been worse.
In summary, I shall be doing more looking and less purchasing of the random authentic products at the oriental market, I bet we gave the guy on the check out a right laugh when we handed over the cash for that disastrous little lot! My money is staying firmly in their fresh vegetable goods from now on and I’ll just tell myself that a crispy chilli beef and singapore noodles from the Mayflower is as authentic as I really need to get.