All About Asian Food

July 2010 Archives

Mooncake Free Gifts

MooncakesMOONCAKES
Mooncakes are traditional Chinese delicacies that are shared among close friends or family. They are considered a food too tasty to turn down, and are eaten around the festival of the moon, which is sort of the Asian version of America's Thanksgiving. The treats are so popular that many other countries in Asia celebrate the moon festival, eat mooncakes, and have done so for thousands of years.

Mooncakes are generally very dense and sweet tasting. They come with fantastic decorations, ranging from the tradition to the outlandish. They have a thin coating on the exterior of the treat, which has the Chinese characters for "longevity" or "harmony" carved into the top. In addition to this they have the name of the bakery where they come from as well as the images of a rabbit and a beautiful woman. The images of the woman the rabbit are frequently associated with this tasty treat, and relate to the myth of their origins.

Mooncakes are now back in stock here at Asian Food Grocer; they can be seen in our Mooncake's Category. Right now we have several FREE GIFTS to give away with mooncake purchases. There is a large metallic red thermace, and a medium sized coffee cup, and also a handy, eco-bag for shopping. The cool thing about this bag is that it folds and snaps down to the size of a wallet, making it perfect for traveling. Come see al the different varieties of cakes, and the beautiful collectable packaging they come in.

Chang Chinese Lunar LegendTHE MYTH
Chang'e and her husband, Houyi, were cast down from the sky to live as mortals on earth. This was a punishment from the Jade Emperor, who was the ruler of heaven, earth, and hell. 10 of the emperor's children had become suns, and were destroying the Earth with their immense heat and so Houyi shot down 9 of them with his bow and arrow, thereby saving earth, but it came at the cost of mortality. Not wanting to accept their fate, the husband and wife sought out a way to regain their immortality. Houyi went out and found the Queen mother of the West, who offered a pill that would give them both their immortality back. He was instructed to eat half of it, and give the other half to wife. When he returned home, he gave his wife the same warning, but he was called away before the two could eat the pill. While he was gone Chang'e looked at the pill, and she became startled when her husband returned home and accidentally swallowed the whole thing.

This overdose of immortality caused her to float up and up, beyond Houyi's reach, until she landed on the moon. There she found a rabbit already on the celestial body. She is said to still exist there today, and for centuries, people have been worshipping her in hopes of receiving her blessing for beauty and fertile crops.

THE HISTORY
While the legend surrounding the mooncake is fascinating, the reality of its purpose in Chinese history may be just as good a tale. The treat was used as a method of communication when the Chinese were under rule of invading Mongolians. Ming revolutionaries wanted to overthrow their foreign dictators, but they couldn't communicate because the Mongolians would cut down any message carried. So they spread the rumor of a dangerous plague whose cure was mooncakes. This allowed for a massive influx of mooncakes, and the Chinese hid their battle plans within the mooncakes and went unnoticed. This spread the word of a planned overthrow on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month. The overthrow worked, and its day was celebrated ever since, not just for the lunar festival, but for the celebration of independence.

OTHER CULTURES
While the Chinese have the history of their mooncake set in blood and legend, those same treats and festivals are just as important to other cultures, like the Japanese. While festivals celebrating the moon have existed in China for the last 3000 years, festivals in Japan that celebrate the moon have been suggested to date back as far as 14,000 BC, to the Jomon period, one of the earliest known occurrences of human tool usage and pottery building. The Moon festivals in Japan are called Tsukimi. The word Tsukumi refers to the tradition of holding parties beneath a harvest moon. This custom is said to have begun about a thousand years ago, during the Heian period, among aristocrats.

Much like the Chinese, the Japanese have specific foods that tailor to their moon festival. Mooncakes are big there too, but so are boiled soba or udon noodles, as well as Tsukimi Dangos, which are dumplings made with rice flour. The tradition has continued to evolve today, and among fast food restaurants they serve Tsukumi burgers, which is a sandwich with a fried egg that is supposed symbolize the full moon.

Chinese Moon FestivalCONTEMPORARY MOON FESTIVAL
Today, the moon festival has become a worldwide phenomenon spreading outside of Asia, as far as Australia, Europe and San Francisco. All over the world, parades will fill the streets this September, and families will meet with one another to play with lanterns, watch Lion dancers, marching bands, ribbon dancers, acrobats and even martial artists. Lovers will hold hands. Children will eat candy. And as everyone munches on their mooncakes and other traditional Asian treats, they will all gaze up at the moon in awe.

Bee-utiful Natural Products

Propolis - Super HoneyMany people think that bees are good for nothing more than delicious honey and painful bee stings. And the occasional pollinated flower here and there. But they actually give us one more thing that is truly amazing. It's called propolis, and bees form it by combining elements of trees and flowers with their honey. They use it for many reasons including defense against disease and bacteria, structural support, and fortification of the hive, but I think you'll find even more reasons to use the stuff.

Studies have suggested that propolis is a powerful preventative against bacteria, disease, and even viruses. It's proven itself well as a good antidote with small wounds as it thwarts off pathogens. It's shown to treat small burns well, and to even take away sore throats. It's antimicrobial tendencies have led to studies done in dental hygiene, and it seems to work well in keeping gum infections at bay. It has  been shown to raise the immune system's ability fight off infection, and studies in Japan have demonstrated that it can even help prevent tumors.

The benefits of propolis have been catching on, and the ingredient has been successfully used in several beauty products. It seems that propolis doesn't just keep your body clean, and your immune system healthy, but it also seems to add shine to your hair, and a soothing texture to your skin. It is now used in shampoos, conditioners, and soaps all over the world. It is successful as a beauty product because of how well it treats the skin and the body. It nourishes the pours in the face and it softens blood vessels, which allows for better circulation. In addition to that, it accelerates healing while promoting faster reproduction of tissue, plus it prevents infections and fungus from causing problems with your skin or pores. So you know that you not only look good when you use propolis, but you can also rest assured that you'll be squeaky clean and extra healthy.

Propolis Shampoo and Beauty ProductsSo what is propolis really? Well, it's composed of beeswax and substances from flowers and trees, and it varies by substance and by season. That means that whatever the bees use will affect the propolis differently. It's color varies depending on what was used to make, but it's generally a light brown. It's a sticky substance at room temperature and becomes less malleable, and more rigid as it gets colder.

Asian Food Grocer has discovered a wonderful company in Korea, which has been using propolis in several of its beauty products, called Nature's Kin. They have also created several other powerful health and beauty products designed to make you healthy inside and out. Click over to see what they have to offer.

Japanese Summer Desserts

It is Hot! Sadly, Summer time is almost over, but it's never too late for dessert; yummy delicious Japanese desserts. They're drastically different than what we're used to here in the states. Where most of our sweets are made with flour, butter, and cream; in Japanese cuisine, glutinous rice, agar agar gelatin, green tea and sweetened azuki red beans are used as confectionery staples. Let AsianFoodGrocer.com take you on a tour that is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

KuzumochiOur first stop on our tour is a sweet and giggly dish known as Kuzumochi. It is made using a powder from the Kuzu root, sugar, and water. Much like glutinous rice, it is formed into rectangular cakes. Its texture is in between gelatin and mochi but it's not as sticky. This traditional vegan dessert is usually served chilled with a drizzle of molasses or honey on top and a dusting of ground toasted soy bean powder called Kinako. The Kinako adds a light peanut buttery taste to the dish.

Next up is a super simple dish known as Azuki Shiratama. Shiratama refers to the sweetened rice cakes, while Azuki is a type of red beans. Served with chilled, chewy mochi and sweet red beans, this delicious confection is very easy to prepare. It is also not uncommon to find scoops of vanilla or green tea ice cream served alongside it.

Green Tea Ice CreamSpeaking of ice cream, Green Tea ice cream is also a very popular summer snack. A fine green tea powder known as Matcha is added to the custard of the ice cream when mixing. It is also what gives each scoop its pale green hue.

Another cool Japanese food is Yokan. This dense food is made with red beans and agar agar gelatin. Yokan is really thick and really sweet. Novice eaters should stick to thinner slices. In hot weather, more water is added to the mixture to give it a lighter texture.

AnmitsuIf you like different textures in you dishes then you would love Anmitsu. It's a traditional Japanese dessert that has cubes of agar agar jelly, fresh fruit slices, red bean paste, and a dollop of ice cream. Mmmm! That's good eating.

Time for some Kakigori! By now you've noticed the trend in Japanese sweets. Red bean and Green Tea are in everything! Although that may be true, this one has a slight difference. It is made with shaved ice! Green tea syrup along with sweetened condensed milk is drizzled on top, while the ever present red beans hold up its base. Wish the ice cream man had these in my neighborhood.

Mochi Ice CreamAnd last but not least, we can't forget mochi ice cream! Sweet glutinous rice is formed into balls, colored with natural food coloring, and then injected with creamy delicious ice cream. Flavors range from the standard vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate to Japanese favorites like green tea, red bean, and mango. If you can find them they are a definite must try.

Most of these fantastic desserts can be created using the products that we offer here on our website. The recipes are really simple and the results are to die for. Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer, and remember to stay cool!

GEO Color Contacts PhotosGeo Color Contact Lenses, also called Magic Lenses, Cosmetic lenses, and Circle Lenses, are quickly becoming an international phenomenon that more and more people are discovering every day. To those of you who have been out of the loop, Geo Lenses are just like any other contact lenses, except instead of altering or rectifying your vision, the object here is to give a stylish and fashion forward look to your eyes. They add dazzling color to your eyes and will make them look fuller and more unique. There is a wide selection allowing you to choose from the more natural, to the most bizarre. Just like you might accessorize your purse with your shoes, or your tie with your overcoat, now you can accessorize your eyes with anything else you wear, drive, or love to be around. Some of our designs can be seen here!

There is a wide assortment of Geo Color Contact Lenses available at AsianFoodGrocer.com, as we are the official distributer. But before we go into detail about all that these lenses can offer our customers, the point we'd like to get across first is that these are REAL contact lenses. They are considered medical devices, and just like any other contacts they are 38-42% water based, and have a set diameter and curvature designed to fit your eyes. Because these are real contact lenses we will not be able to provide a customer their lenses unless they are able to show us a prescription for contact lenses.

We don't do this because the lenses are meant to fix vision, or because they are in any way dangerous, but because we at AFG realize that your eyes are precious and irreplaceable, so we want to make sure that anyone who purchases contacts from us knows how to safely administer, remove, clean, and care for them. Your safety is very important to us, and we take this precaution very seriously. If you don't care for the contacts correctly, or if you don't understand the basic rules of wearing and using contacts, then irritation or damage to your eyes may occur, and we don't want that. So the prescription assures us that you know how to use contacts.

It's really easy to send us your prescription. The best and quickest way to do this is to purchase your contacts, and then afterward fax (650) 583-2676 or email a copy of your prescription to info@asianfoodgrocer.com along with your order number. The other way is to include your prescription number, your name, doctor's name and telephone number in the comments section while checking out. This method may take longer, about 24-48 hours in total, but we figured we'd include a second option just because we like you so much. Once we get all that information, we'll contact your doctor, and THEN send your contacts out to you as soon as possible.

Now again, we're not requiring the prescription because there is any sort of medical benefit or danger to these contact lenses. These lenses are very popular in several different countries, worn by millions, and have received several awards worldwide. They're from Korea, and have been around since 2002. There's a few different companies making them right now, but the Geo lenses offer the best quality, and the best appearance, so those are the only ones we sell. You can check out Geo's website here, geo21eye.com. In addition, each container includes a sticker of verification on it. You scratch off the top layer of the sticker, just like a lottery ticket, and beneath you will see a code. Go to the website on the sticker (geo.fw1860.com), type in the number you found under the scratcher, and the website will verify that these are the genuine article, and not some sort of knockoff. You can also go here, to see the patents and awards that have been given to the Geo Color Contact Lenses.

Geo offers you this opportunity to verify the authenticity of your lenses, because just like with any leading product that is soaring in popularity, there are always going to be knockoffs of poor quality. So you can buy from us with confidence, and know that we're doing everything we can to make our customers happy, and educated on how to properly use their Geo Color Contact Lenses. If you have any further questions on instructions you can go here, or you can just contact us and we'd be happy to answer any questions.

What makes the Geo Lenses so special?

The Geo Color Contact Lenses are just like the normal contact lenses that a countless number of people wear every day, all over the world. The only difference is that these have dyes that are safe for your eyes placed upon the outside of the contacts. These dyes don't affect your vision at all, and the lens is designed so that the contacts are very breathable and allow for oxygen to easily get to your eye. There is an extremely wide array of colors that the dyes can achieve, from the bright and spectacular, to the deep and foreboding, to the natural and authentic. The technology isn't new, and it isn't original either, but the reason you should get excited about the Geo Contact lenses is that these lenses offer the best quality that is available for color contact lenses. They've been in business for years, and use a safe, proven method that has allowed them to take Asia, Europe, and even Hollywood by storm.

What Kinds of Lenses Are There?

2-Tone Magic Color Lens:
2-Tone Magic Color Lens
The 2-Tone Lenses offer you only two colors, set against black, and are designed for the color to circle your retina. This makes the contacts appear more natural, and is a good option for people just trying out the contacts, who might be a little more shy at first, or a little more reserved about how they stand out in public. Give it time, and you'll be considering our most outlandish contacts, but for any first time user, we know you'll love the subtle beauty and quiet allure of the 2-Tone Magic Color Lenses.

3-Tone Magic Color Lens:
3-Tone Magic Color Lens
3-Tone Magic Color Lenses are the upgraded version of the 2-Tone Color Lenses. They have interlacing colors over a black plain that will encircle your natural retina. This creates a seamless blend of the natural and the manufactured to give you an intense and forceful beauty, so that when people look at you they will feel a powerhouse of emotion. People who wear these will have a confidence about them that is contagious, and a sense of splendor that no one will be able to ignore.

Fresh Natural Oriental Lens:
Fresh Natural Color Lens
Fresh Natural Oriental Lenses aren't designed so much for color as they are for size. These lenses offer a natural, more subtle color to your retinas, but a size that is hard to ignore. The colors here tend to be darker, less extravagant, more similar to what might appear natural for a person of Asian descent. But the size will have the effect of making your eyes stand out and look more doe eyed and teary. They are inspired by the 'anime eyes' and will give your eyes a noticeable look.

Hurricane Lens:
Hurricane Lens
The Hurricane Lenses offer one of the most dazzling experiences that Geo Color Contact Lenses has to offer. What these lenses do is bring astonishing color to your eyes, and puts them in the form of a swirl. This creates a fantastic mixture of the grandiose and the understated, because the color is fantastic and attractive, while the swirl is subtle and will quietly draw people to the magnificent artwork in your eyes. It's a great way of bringing people close to you and stunning them with your beauty.

Olive Magic Color Lens:
Olive Magic Color Lens
The Olive Magic Color Lenses offer the size and color many of our customers have come to expect from Geo Color Contact Lenses, but they offer an extra little something by adding in a black line along the perimeter. This has the effect of giving the eye a halo appearance. The result is subtle and not overpowering, but it allows for better definition of the color and the retina, and a more glamorous appearance

Super Angel Eye Large Lens:
Super Angel Eye Large Lens
The most sought after colored lens on the market, Geo's Super Angel Eye gives you both fantastic color and alluring size. The lenses have a 14.8mm diameter and one of the largest dramatizations to your retina that Geo has to offer. The thick black line along the exterior will offer noticeable size and definition of both the manufactured color, and your natural color to make an extraordinary appearance anywhere you go. These are great Geo Lenses and offer the beauty the name was built upon.

Super Nudy Large Lens:
Super Nudy Large Lens
Almost as popular as the Angel Eye, these Super Nudy Lenses offer both extraordinary size and an appealing natural color, but also give a little extra glare to hint at watery eyes or tear drops. These offer an emotional edge and a tantalizing but dangerous innocence made popular by many of Japan's anime characters. Wear them anywhere you go and they'll get you the attention you deserve.

Tearful Circle Lens:
Tearful Circle LensThe Tearful Circle Lenses add a very modest amount of color to your eyes, and only a little extra size, but what they do best is give your peepers a subtle sparkle and shimmer meant to replicate an innocent, watery-eyed gaze. Inspired by the famous look of Japan's many anime characters, these contacts will give your eyes that powerful, tearful gaze that will undoubtedly draw people into them.

Twins Magic Color Lens:
Twins MagicColor LensThe Twins Magic Color Lenses have a fascinating color arrangement, with lines that jut into the peripheral of the contact. There is a slight line along the exterior to add definition and a little size to your eyes. The colors that graze the retina are brighter, which allows for the shades to blend into one another flawlessly. They will add texture and a brazen intensity to your eyes each time they're worn.

Nudy Colored 2-Tone Lens:
Nudy Colore 2-Tone LensSimilar to the original Nudy Lenses, the Nudy 2-Toned Lenses offer extra color and depth, while keeping the shimmer and losing the extra big size. These have smaller black rings around the perimeter of the eyes, which will not give that same large size increase. However, the additional color, and continued shimmering glare will add that extra little bit of allure and mystique to give your eyes the attention they truly deserve.

Angel Eye Two Tone Lens:
Angel Eye Two Tone LensThe Angel Eye 2-Tone Lenses offer the same size and definition that the original Angel Eyes do, except they have the added flair of additional color which will give extra depth and personality to your eyes. They mix nicely with your natural eye color, and offer one of the most unique and demanding statements your eyes can make.

Safety Instructions and Precautions for Your Contact Lenses:

It is very important to keep your lenses clean, and to follow the directions very closely to keep your and eyes healthy. It should also be noted that these are cosmetic lenses, and are not intended for use every single day or for extended periods of time. If worn occasionally, perhaps once a week or so, and cleaned well, the contacts may last up to a year. If worn every single day, for hours on end, they may only last one to two weeks. The average contact lens is designed to last for two weeks, and not be worn more than 8 hours a day. There is no exception for the contact lenses. The daily limit for the lenses is a recommended 4 to 6 hours, though 8 hours is definitely the absolute maximum time limit for anyone's eyes. Any further questions should be directed to your Eye Care Practitioner, and any general questions about contact lens care may be answered on our page here.

Why Buy these Lenses?

These contact lenses won't enhance your eye sight, and they won't give you laser eyes, or even x-ray vision. But what they do offer is a new and unique look for your eyes. These lenses are designed to add a little fun to your day by allowing you to show up to school, or a party with eyes that match the occasion. And with such a wide variety of lenses, you'll be able to match almost any event. Mix and match your lenses to go with outfits, to make lasting first impressions, to have a little extra fun on a first date, or just to stand out from the crowd. These lenses will help you achieve whatever image you've got going for you, and with Geo Color Contact Lenses you can be assured you're getting the best quality, the best designs, and the best available Color Contact Lenses money can buy!

A Summer of Rice Crackers

Rice CrackersGood news everyone! Summer is finally here! Unfortunately it comes with a price... We regret to inform you that our delicious rich and creamy chocolate snacks could melt during shipping. We know, we know, it sucks majorly. Good thing we have tons of crunchy rice cracker snacks to fill the void!

We're not talking about your run of the mill styrofoam disks that you find at you grocery store. We mean the real deal. Japanese rice crackers are crunchy pieces of puffed rice that come it a wide variety of shapes, colors, and flavors. Once baked, a thin layer of savory soy sauce glaze is added to flavor. Many of them are used ceremonially. Not only are they tasty, they are way healthier than plain old potato chips.

Wet glutinous rice is first put into a giant stone mortar called an usu. It is then pounded into a thick paste using a huge mallet. When the paste becomes smooth and malleable, it is then shaped into bricks or balls commonly known as Mochi or Rice Cakes. From this point, pieces are cut into disks, squares, chunks, and chips. Each unique shape will eventually end up being tasty crackers. When added to boiling hot oil, baked, or grilled, the still moist mochi pieces puff because of the expanding gasses that are trapped inside, much like a donut or a kettle of popcorn kernels. Each piece is the glazed with flavor.

Seaweed Rice CrackersUsually the crispy crackers are flavored with rich and salty soy sauce. Other flavors include seafood like shrimp, fish, or sea vegetables like kelp and sushi nori. Originally, there was no sweet senbei. It wasn't introduced until 737 A.D. during the Tang Dynasty. Now a days, it is very easy to find. Sweet soy sauce and rice wine combine to make a very tasty salty and sweet snack. It is also not uncommon to find wasabi, kimchi, or even curry flavored rice crackers.

Maruhiko Teriyaki Senbei 12-packSome rice crackers are even considered very lucky and are eaten on special occasions. The wide round senbei with the sheet of nori on it is usually passed out to families as a gift of good luck and good fortune. A multicolored mix called Hina Arare is usually passed out during Japan's Girl's Day Festival (Doll Festival). Regular rice cracker mixes can be found year round; each is mixed with various ingredients like wasabi peas, dried seafood, and dried nuts.

So, why not give the chocolate a break. Grab a hand full of crispy crunchy heat resistant rice crackers!

The Yuzu has a history of over 1200 years. This fruit has its origins from China in the Yangtze River Region. The Yuzu was brought to Japan by way of the Korean peninsula. When the Yuzu was introduced to Japan, during the Nara Period (year 710), the Japanese farmers grew Yuzu fruits for three purposes, culinary, hot bathing and medicinal.

Yuzu Fruit TreeYuzu is beautiful year round. In the spring the tree's foliage produces a white blossom that is enchanting to look at. In the summer the Yuzu fruit start to grow in a healthy green color, adding more texture to the tree. We enjoy sliced and grated green Yuzu rind with salad, and sashimi dishes. It gives a spicy citrus flavor and is truly delicious. In the winter the fruit ripens to a brilliant golden-yellow color, which is the hallmark of this multi-purpose, ornamental tree.

Yuzu Passion, a manufacturer of quality Yuzu products, has created a small line of delicious seasonings. Asian Food Grocer now carries their Yuzu Juice, a sour citrus that can be used to create sauce like ponzu; Yuzu Ginger Cocktail Mix, for creating unique beverages with your favorite spirit or drink. We also carry their Marmalade and Ginger Conserve, which is perfect for dessert sauces, crackers, or tea. You can see Yuzu Passion's entire catalog here.

Yuzu Fruit Hot Springs BathYuzu is not only for eating or for cooking. In Japan, it is used in preparation for a special hot bath. Traditionally, a hot Yuzu bath is taken on the winter solstice day. It has a long tradition and believed to ward off winter colds and flu, and healing of chapped skin. The hot water helps to release a pleasant aroma from the Yuzu fruit. In fact, a part of the Yuzu's oil component "Nomilin" gives a relaxation affect, and provides better circulation on your body. As a result, using the Yuzu oil on the skin becomes very smooth after the bath. We also believed that taking a Yuzu bath brings you wealth and assurance of good health. We recommend not to substitute Yuzu with other citrus products such as lemon or orange. It does not give the same aromatic and health affect as Yuzu. If you want to experience a Yuzu Bath Hot Spring, we recommend trying in the winter season, including November and December.

Yuzu Fruit SeedsIn ancient times, Yuzu seed were used as a natural medicine to treat skin irritations, and itchiness. People preserved the seeds with Shochu or Sake. Today, it is use to create natural cosmetics for skin toning. Here are some of the other benefits:

Vitamin C

  • 3 times more than that of lemon (it has 150mg vitamin C in 100g of Yuzu)
  • Flavonoids: antioxidant activity
  • Collagen
  • Rejuvenates maturing skin
  • Activates cell and fat burning effect

Vitamin P (It is in most citrus)

  • Helps absorb vitamin C & promote healthy blood flow

Organic Acids

  • Malic acid (fruit acid): It aids in recovery of muscular aches
  • Citric acid plays a crucial role in digestion

Nomilin (Yuzu Skin essential oil component)

  • Aids in relaxation

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA . This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Learn more about Yuzu Passion by seeing their manufacturer's page here!