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Sriracha sauce

Posted Thursday, October 25, 2012, at 8:34 AM

Huy Fong brand Sriracha sauce, easily found in Shelbyville. (Image from Mo Hotta Mo Betta, http://mohotta.com )
I had intended to do this as a story, but it's been a busy week, so I think I'll do it as a quick note here.

Some of the recipes presented by Chef Steve Petusevsky at Tuesday night's Times-Gazette / Relish Cooking Show & Expo on Tuesday featured exotic ingredients. I could just hear a couple of people I know saying, "but you can't get that in Shelbyville!"

Well, in some cases, you can; you've just never noticed the ingredient because you haven't looked for it.

For example, sriracha sauce. I've bought this myself several times, and really like it. It's a red pepper sauce, with a ketchup-like consistency, and you can find it where the Asian foods are located. I saw it last night at Kroger. The sauce is red, and it comes in a clear plastic squeeze bottle. The next time you make Buffalo wings, try substituting sriracha sauce for half of the hot sauce you normally use in your recipe. It's great.

Also in the Asian foods aisle was rice wine vinegar.

I have not checked to see if rice wine, mirin, is available from any of our local liquor stores. But if they don't have it, I suspect they could get it for you.

I've bought fresh ginger at Kroger in the past, and after seeing Chef Steve work with it the other night I bought some there yesterday and made candied ginger. This is a really easy thing to do, and you wind up with both the candied ginger (you can eat it like candy or use it as an ingredient) and with a ginger-flavored simple syrup.

Mail order is also an option. If you read my story on cooking web sites in the cooking show tabloid we published, you know about Penzey's Spices ( http://www.penzeys.com ), an online retailer where you can get great herbs and spices. I haven't looked for star anise locally, but if it turns out you can't find it locally you could certainly order it from Penzey's.

When we were doing our "Relish recipes" for the section, David Melson had trouble finding a particular type of cheese. I had to tell him that several local supermarkets have some of their more exotic cheeses, not in the dairy case, but in the deli section. You may end up having to look in both places.

There are certainly ingredients that don't get stocked in small-town supermarkets, and there are ingredients that sit on the shelf past their expiration date in a small-town supermarket. But I think there's more of a variety available in Shelbyville than some people give credit for.

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Yet another reason we could really use a larger more competitive grocer in Shelbyville(my vote is Publix)

Maybe we should have groveled and begged a little more when the opportunity was tabled.....I have found both mirin and star anise at Krogers here when needed but passed on both due to the freshness of products like that in this market...may a suggest using "seasoned" mirin (rice wine vinager)theres a large difference in taste....I use it when cooling sushi rice for flavor and stickiness....I am a major foodie so I find myself going to Murfreesboro to shop for groceries at least twice a month...and Whole Foods is a must at least once a month...Sriracha can be intense, just a teaspoon added to some foods can really kick things up....love the flavor tho...its one of those heats that when used right it adds flavor and not just heat...a few drops mixed with orange marmalade,and some of that Mirin sure makes a great dipping sauce for my panko crumb coconut fried jumbo shrimp ...yum!

-- Posted by chefgrape on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 9:42 AM

Well, to be fair, a Publix in Shelbyville might not necessarily carry all the same items that a Publix in Murfreesboro or Franklin would carry, just as the Krogers in Murfreesboro carry more items than the Kroger in Shelbyville does. Selection is driven by population and demographics, which determine whether the store does enough business to support a particular product line.

I remember when Bi-Lo expanded its Shelbyville store and they added some items like a loose olive bar in the produce section. They had different specialty olives, and you could pick and choose what you wanted and pay for it by weight. It was a nice thing to have, but it apparently didn't generate enough business to sustain itself in a market this size, and so it went away pretty quickly.

My point was not to badmouth the local selection; I was doing just the opposite. I was saying that the stores already here carry more than people give them credit for, and you should at least take a look before giving up and saying "I can't cook that." Taking advantage of specialty items sold locally gives the stores the incentive to stock more.

-- Posted by jcarney on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 10:45 AM

The only Asian staple I cannot find locally, neither Kroger nor Walmart, is rice paper wrappers for spring rolls. I see egg roll wrappers everywhere, but where would I find spring roll wrappers?

-- Posted by craftin_mom on Tue, Oct 30, 2012, at 11:22 AM

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John I. Carney is city editor of the Times-Gazette.
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