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Fanime 2013 Wrap-Up

Another Fanime has come and gone, and it was one of our most hectic yet! This year we left the comfortable confines of Dealer's Hall to set up shop in Hall 1, where the swap meet and archery demonstrations took place. We're still reeling from the impressive turnout during the 4-day convention. After a full weekend of technicolor costumes, we are slowly readjusting to normal life, but we are glad to have served the legions of Fanime attendees many boxes of Pocky, bottles of Ramune, and bowls of ramen.

This year was a bit chaotic as construction was taking place in the convention center and various events were being held in new locations. Many people didn't even know we were here when they didn't see us in the Dealer's Hall, but once word got out that a pop-up Asian grocery store was in the house, things got crazy quick.

This year, we brought not only snacks but also plush dolls, cool mugs, and iPhone accessories. These new products took up 1/3 of our booth space, and we were happy at the reception. Our large plushies and body pillows quickly found an audience, as did our anime iPhone cases.

As always, the anchor of our pop-up store was our large stock of Ramune sodas and Pocky/Hello Panda snacks. It was flavors galore, as people marveled at the wide selection of over fifteen Ramune flavors and Pocky variants. Thirsty patrons were taken aback at the availability of obscure flavors such as Curry and Chili Oil. Some bought multiple novelty flavors to be consumed as dares, but of course we offer standard tasty refreshments as well. Customers definitely did not lack choice, and we were happy to see many repeat customers throughout the weekend.

We had trouble keeping our items in stock. Tables filled to the brim on opening day were bare by the time the con was over, and we were trying our damnedest to restock our booth.Whole boxes of imported Japanese bread were consumed within a few hours every morning. Our melon bread went quick as anime fans wanted to find out exactly what the fuss Shana makes about melonpan is all about (hint: it's delicious.)

For the first time in the five years we've attended Fanime, we stayed open 24 hours everyday, for the entire duration of the con! In the wee hours of the night, the Asian Food Grocer booth was the destination for anime fans looking for a meal. And we were totally ready for you bleary-eyed people. Our ramen station, complete with a hot water cooler and a microwave and a full complement of condiments such as Sriracha and sesame oil, played host to many hungry revelers. People gathered round the cooler, emptying their seasoning packets and cooking their noodles while resting and trading con stories. With snacks and Ramune freely flowing, the late-night AFG booth had the cozy feel of a tavern within the wide expanses of Hall 1.

The die-hard anime fans, taking a break from their all-night video room sessions, as well as hyped-up ravers, came by to raid our store for any thing caffeinated. Our coffees and themed energy drinks were a big hit, fueling folks up for more hours of late-night gaming and viewing in the adjacent halls. And when our caffeine drinks ran out, we offered up Black Black gum for those still needing an extra tick of energy.

The convention had some issues this year, but the real attraction has always been the people who flock to San Jose Convention Center, and in that sense, Fanime delivered 100%. We saw Bronies, cosplayers dressed up to the tee, and people in street clothes simply taking in the sights. Thank you to all that showed up to our booth, for your creativity and passion in your cosplays made our weekend all the more memorable. Hope all you guys had a good con, and we'll see you next year!

California RollsWe're quickly coming upon Easter Sunday, after almost five weeks into the Lent season. This solemn 40-day observation inspires Catholics and people of various other denominations to give up on certain vices and live a more pared-down, ascetic lifestyle. One prevalent thing people give up during Lent is the consumption of meat on Fridays. As such, fish is a popular choice for Friday dinner. Friday fish fries are a popular event held in many communities, where people gorge on beer-battered fried fish. But if you ask me, having fish and chips every week cannot be great for you or your love handles. A healthy and tasty alternative would be to eat sushi instead.

Rather than going out to expensive sushi restaurants, you can save plenty of money by preparing sushi right at home. The ingredients required are quite simple-nori, rice, and sushi vinegar makes up the foundation of most rolls. And don't forget sushi ginger, which is munched on between and after sushi courses as a palate cleanser.

The hardest part of making sushi is actually rolling it up. The process is made much easier with help of either bamboo mats or this nifty Express Sushi Magic device that makes producing sushi rolls a no-brainer.

Rolling Your SushiThe kind of sushi most people in America find palatable is the ubiquitous sushi roll, with its various ingredients wrapped up in rice and seaweed paper, or nori. The California roll is a popular roll containing imitation crab, cucumber, and avocado, wrapped inside-out style with the rice on the outside and nori on the inside. Check out our recipe to recreate this widely-proliferated roll. Other popular rolls include the Philadelphia roll, which incorporates cream cheese, and spicy tuna roll, made with a spicy minced tuna mixture.

The purest form of sushi, some may say, is sashimi, which is simply slices of fresh, raw fish. Understandably, people are apprehensive about eating raw fish, gourmet or not. But dipped in the time-tested combo of soy sauce and wasabi, a sliver of salmon or tuna can taste heavenly.

Another type of sushi is nigiri, a molded ball of rice with a slice of fish on top. You may also top nigiri with non-raw-fish ingredients such as tamago (egg) and unagi (eel). Nigiri is meant to be eaten with your hands. Pick up a piece, dap it with a little sauce, and down the hatch it goes.

SashimiIf the texture of raw fish is too out there for you, there are plenty of cooked item that goes into sushi as well that will not break the rule of meatless Fridays. Braised eel, is a popular cooked sushi component. With a texture similar to fish but more fatty, eel is served grilled and topped with a smoky sauce that is sure to satisfies anyone's taste buds. You may also use cooked shrimp or imitation crab, but really, any ingredient is fair game.

It can be great fun to mix and match different ingredients when putting together your rolls. Experiment with different flavors, and above all, have fun! Do not give into sushi snobs who insist on labeling rolls as either "real" sushi or not. Sushi is meant to be an all-inclusive experience, so put in your personal touch to get the most enjoyment out of your cooking.

You may find eating fresh fish and sushi so delicious that you decide to eat it year round, long past Easter. Sushi can even be considered a kosher food, given the heavy dependence on fish rather than meat. With its range of flavors and utmost emphasis on freshness, sushi is a food for people of all creeds.

When Good Mugs Go Bad

Color Changing Mugs

Asian Food Grocer has long prided itself in bringing you the latest and greatest in candy, cuisine, and dinner ware. In keeping with that tradition, we want to introduce you to our brand new Invisible Ink Mugs!

These mugs are heat sensitive and the images on them will change depending on the heat of the liquid inside. So when you're in the mood for a hot cup of sweet tea or a steaming cup of coffee, put it in these mugs and be prepared for a show.

The mugs are a bit, shall we say, for grown ups. So maybe keep them for use around the office, or at the very least, out of your 8 year old's hands.

Color Changing Mugs

We have both masculine and feminine mugs, so if you're looking for a set of manly 6 pack abs to go with your morning coffee, you'll likely enjoy the Pretty Boy Mug. Here a set of black pants and jacket peels away to reveal a racy thong. And if that's not your thing you can pick from our large selection of lovely ladies.

Each mug comes with a matching lid, and the character's hair, which comes in either black or red, extends onto the lid to create a matching set. Each mug has the same disappearing paint that allows the character on the exterior to go from interesting, to scandalous. But each mug also offers a unique style and appeal as well. So whether you're feeling extra saucy, or just a little sillyColor Changing Mugs, you're bound to find something to pique your interest.

But now comes the really important part. You've got your fancy mugs, with their fancy lids- but what do you put inside?! Only the best drinks should do- after all, why get an awesome mug if you're not going to fill it with an awesome beverage?

Color Changing Mugs

The avid tea drinkers can peruse through our massive selection of Tea, but may we suggest: the Long Jing Tea- said to be one of China's most popular beverages, or the smooth and aeromatic Jasmine Tea, or the ever classic Green Tea. And if the great health benefits or the fantastic tastes of tea aren't your thing then check out our coffee selection.

The coffee drinkers should look no further than our exquisite line of Jacobs German Coffee, known by many as Europe's best coffee. They have Instant Coffee, as well as a Caffeine Free Option, the ever popular Original Flavor, and there's even a Mild Option for the caffeine sensitive.

Color Changing Mugs

And if you're feeling like you really want to be out of the ordinary you can be extra bold and try some Hot Sake in your mug.

We hope you enjoy these color changing mugs as much as we do. They make excellent gifts, and are always a welcome addition to any party or social scene. And if you're really trying to make a memorable party why not give these mugs out at your next gathering?

 

 

 

 

Week 1 - Main Course
Week 2 - Side Dishes
Week 3 - Appetizers
Week 4 - Beverages / Desserts / Quick Meals


Week 1 - Main Course

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and we at AsianFoodGrocer want to help keep you and your dinner guests happy and satisfied. Each week we'll be offering you a new portion of the meal, and over the course of 4 weeks we'll be dishing out recipes for appetizers, side dishes, the main course, desserts and alcoholic beverages.

And instead of saving the most important for last, we're going to take care of it first. So here it is, folks: The Main Course.

We've arranged three options for your main course this Thanksgiving.
Tender Yuzu Honey Tukey
First up is a meal called Yuzu and Honey Turkey. It is a slow cooked, sweet and savory meal that is flavored with the unique tastes of yuzu, honey, ginger, and even a little Ramune soda. It amounts to a tender and juicy meat that ends up with a fantastic glaze and a wonderfully satisfying flavor.
 Teriyaki Turkey
This next dish is for those who are craving a meal that's a little less on the sweet side. It's our Teriyaki Turkey and it's one of our favorite fusion dishes. The turkey is braised with a succulent and savory combination of brown sugar, ginger, sliced onions, mirin and soy sauce. It is a little bit more buttery and zesty than the Yuzu turkey, and may be just the way to go to spice up your Thanksgiving meal this year.


Cantonese Barbecue Pork Our last meal today is made for the kitchen novices, and is much simpler than the previous two. It is our Cantonese Barbecue Pork. It makes for a delicious pork dish, and if marinated properly will end up tender, juicy, and with a wonderfully rich and succulent texture. Try this if you feel turkey is a bit overrated, or if you're looking for something new, but not too difficult to try this year.

This week is also the start of our Housewares Sale. Any order $30 or more will save 10% off on our Chopsticks and Kitchen Category. We're doing this category sale early so you can get everything you need to create the perfect Thanksgiving meal.

We've got Rice Steamers to create the most perfectly textured rice. Knives so sharp they'll carve your turkey into the most pristine pieces possible. Stainless Knife Senzou KengataWe recommend the Japanese Senzou Kitchen Knife as a great all around knife, plus it looks really cool!

We've also got your Tea Cups available for discount, your Cooking Chopsticks, Measuring Spoons, Kids' Bowls- and if you're feeling like really making this Thanksgiving special you can get a whole new Dish Set. Our favorite is the Dark Stoneware Set. But maybe all you REALLY need this Thanksgiving is a Portable Ashtray for that one Aunt who can't take a hint. *Cough cough.

We hope you take advantage of the great deals we're offering this holiday season. All you have to do is put the coupon code in when checking out, "dealOTweek". We're excited to provide you with the best stuff we can, and we're working hard to make this Thanksgiving a great, and inexpensive one for everyone. And if you've tried any of our recipes, please send us a picture or a video and we'll put it up on the website. Happy cooking everyone!


Week 2 - Side Dishes

This week we've got three spectacular new recipes for you to try. We're going over our Side Dishes this week and we're very excited to show you what we've got! We've been making an effort to push for a healthier list of recipes this year, so while one of our recipes IS deep fried, the other two are super healthy. We just like giving you options.

Deep Fried Prawns with Batter The first recipe we've got for you is called Deep Fried Prawns with Batter (Jow Ha). It's a super tasty side dish that will have just the right amount of crunch and flavor to keep your guests hooked. And we recommend using Panko Bread Crumbs in place of the traditional deep frying methods because they absorb much less oil and are a lot healthier.

Spring Rolls The next recipe we've got lined up for you is Spring Rolls, a healthy and tasty Asian snack. Spring rolls are a thin piece of rice paper, about the size of a small tortilla, with a series of vegetables and meat inside. It offers a crisp, crunchy, and delicious meal. You can also try it with a variety of different Dips or Sauces, or you can experiment with your own Home-Made Sauce to get that perfect balance.

Sesame Udon Noodles

Our third and final recipe for this week is called Sesame Udon Noodles. These noodles are a spicy, savory dish, loaded with healthy and tasty veggies, and they offer a texture that only udon noodles can provide. Prepare them with any type of meat if you wish, and we recommend you make a big batch because it's going to go fast.

This week also begins the start of our Asian Food Category. You heard that right, anything you want out of our Asian Food Category is qualified for a 10% off discount, as long as it's $30 or more.

This includes our Desserts, Tofu Products, Organic Foods, and even our Imported Bread Category if you missed that last week. Browse through what we've got, and you're sure to find something perfect for your Thanksgiving feast.

You can try using Seaweed for garnish or as a condiment, or Red Beans as a sweet side or topping, or even some Organic Honey to top off your dessert.

Remember, all you need to do to take advantage of our great deals is to input the coupon code during checkout: dealOTweek. We hope this helps you with your Thanksgiving dinner, and as always, if you use any of our recipes, send in some pictures. Tell us what you think! Show us you care. Happy cooking everyone.

 

Week 3 - Appetizers

 

Hello all, thanks for checking in with us again this week. In this blog we're going to go over our Appetizers. We've got three great recipes for you to try, and they should all be great starters for any meal.

Breaded Tofu Cutlets

The first recipe we've got lined up for you is called Breaded Tofu Cutlets. It's a deliciously crunchy and savory appetizer, with breaded and fried tofu. It'll go well with a variety of sauces, and because the concept is fairly simple, it should work with a lot of decorations and garnishes to add character to the dish. And because it's light and not super filling it makes for an ideal appetizer because it will leave plenty of room for the main course.

California Rolls

The next is a classic fusion dish with inspiration from the California West Coast and Japanese cuisine. It's the California Roll! This appetizer is very easy to make, and after a little bit of practice you'll be making dozens of rolls in no time at all. Try them with Soy Sauce, or make your own dips and sauces. California rolls are a great appetizer because they're tasty, light, and won't fill you up before the big show.

Fried Dumplings With Hot Chili Sauce

The last recipe we've got for you this week is Fried Dumplings with Hot Sauce. It's a great choice for those interested in trying a timeless Asian dish. The appetizer calls for a mixture of shrimp, scallops and pork, and has many great ingredients like Minced Ginger Root, chili paste, Sesame Oil, and Rice Wine. It's a bit more filling than the previous two recipes, but if you limit everyone to only a handful there should be plenty of room left for the main course.

Now, this week we're also doing a discount on all of our Japanese seasonings. It's a 10% discount on any purchase of $30 or more with the coupon code dealOTweek. This means you can get your Soy Sauce to reach that perfect flavor. Or you can get some Curry if you're interested in ignoring our recipes and making a quick and simple appetizer- it's ok, you won't hurt our feeings... much.
Kampyo Dried Gourd Knot
You can also take advantage of our Dashi to make fantastic and hearty soups, or you can get all the Sushi Supplies you need to make it an all sushi Thanksgiving.
You might even look into using Gourd Strips to add a degree of beauty to your meal- the strips become soft and malleable in water so that you can fold them into intricate knots, or tie pieces of asparagus together with an edible coil. Or use them to put bows around Chopsticks or silverware.

Whatever you decide to do with your appetizers this Thanksgiving we wish you only the tastiest dishes and hope you all have a wonderful holiday. Happy cooking everyone!


Week 4 - Beverages / dessert / Quick Meals

 

This is the last section in our Thanksgiving blog series, and we hope you appreciate all the work we've put in for you. We've given you recipes for the main course, appetizers, and side dishes. And now it's time for everything else. And what else could there be, you ask. A lot.
This week we're going to go over: Desserts, Instant meal recipes for those cooking on a budget or preparing snacks for your football buddies, and lastly- adult beverages. Now that's a lot of stuff to cover, so let's get started!

Everyone wants to eat the dessert first, so we won't keep you waiting.


DESSERT


hello Kitty Green Tea Cupcake

This cupcake recipe is inspired by one of the most recognizable faces to ever come out of Japan. Hello Kitty! These Hello Kitty Cupcakes are absolutely adorable, and will bring a delightful presence to you're your table.
Green Tea Fried Ice Cream

Deep fried ice cream is nothing new, in fact it's thought to date back to an 1893 Chicago World fair, but it is a rewarding challenge to complete. The way it works is the ice cream is chilled colder than most ice creams, and is deep fried only for a few seconds, so that the batter and flour become crisp, but the inside stays cold. Deep fried ice cream is an amazing contradiction, and a fantastic dessert.

Java Brownie Sundae

If you're a person who believes that you should either go big or go home, then this recipe might be for you. It takes thick and hearty brownies and tops them with a delicious vanilla ice cream, which is then flavored with a succulent and rich fudge that brings the whole recipe together. And if you're really looking for trouble, you can top it all off with whipped cream, a cherry, and some shaved nuts. We know, you love us.

 

 

QUICK MEALS


Some people don't like to make a big ordeal out of Thanksgiving, or they like to do it on the cheap. We've prepared two instant meals that you can simply add to some prepared rice, for a filling and great tasting meal. We've also made some recommendations for snacks that will be perfect for lounging around and watching football, or just eating until everyone arrives and the dinner begins.

Chinese Fried Rice

This is a packet of flavoring that you can add to fried rice or steamed rice. Add in chopped vegetables or meat for a more complete meal, however the food will taste great either way. We have several other types of Instant Seasonings available, and we recommend you check them out if this one isn't quite doing it for you.

Golden Curry Instant

This is a simple medium spiced curry that you boil and then add to prepared rice. It offers a hearty texture and full flavored effect. It comes preseasoned and you can add in your own meats and vegetables, or simple eat the veggies ones that come within the pack. We offer several other styles of Curry or Instant Foods that you can check out as well.
Roasted Wasabi Peas

This is a simple snack that is also among our most popular. Pour it into a bowl for your guests or leave it in the container- either way it'll move fast. Wasabi peas are exactly what the names says; they are dried peas, with a spicy or savory wasabi coating on the outside. They are then baked so that they become extra crunchy, and make for an excellent finger food.
Potato Spicky BBQ Flavor

This is Spicky, but we also have Pretz- both of which can be thought of as potato chips in stick form. They are crunchy, salty, savory little sna
cks that come several to a pack and are available in a broad array of great tasting flavors. Arrange them for guests to watch football with, or just have them ready when people arrive hungry, but too early for dinner.

Beverages


Dee-Colada

Try this mixed drink for an updated version of the classic beverage, PiƱa Colada. It offers creamy smooth Coconut Milk, combined with a little rum, and just the right amount of Pineapple Ramune. It's the taste of island life brought to your dining room table, and your guests are sure to be pleased.
Thanksgiving Sweet And Spice

This recipe is for those looking to venture away from the more traditional range of mixed drinks. It is sweetened with tasty Mango Ramune, but is then spiced up with a dash of white pepper powder. It makes for a great concoction, and is sure to be a big hit at your Thanksgiving dinner.
Ginger Vitis

Ginger
is a common ingredient in many mixed drinks. This particular beverage follows that tradition well with an eclectic drink that is a mixture of the bubbly, the sweet, the tart and the delicious. Ginger is an important ingredient, and you'll find it works well in providing a good balance and keeping the drink from becoming too sweet.

We really hope you enjoyed our recipes and our Thanksgiving Deals this season. We put a lot of time and effort into them and we hope that they help bring you to a happier, tastier Thanksgiving. Please email if you have an questions or concerns about the recipes or products, and as always, if you use any of our recipes, tell us about it! Love it, hate it, wish it had a different ingredient- let us know. Thanks for reading everyone, and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

 

FANIME 2011

 

fanime 2011

Well, Fanime 2011 has ended, and personally we're all exhausted. Now that the last Ramune has been drunk, and the last Cloud Strife has left the building, and all the booths have been broken down and shipped away, we're forced to go back to the real world where things aren't nearly as cool. But it was a fun four days, and we can't wait until the next one!

2011 was by far our biggest year at Fanime. This was the first time we had three booths, we had more people working at our tables than the previous years, we brought more goodies, and had more energy than ever before! If you stopped by to see us then you know we had everything from Pocky, to Hi-Chew, to Ramune, to cheese flavored Kit-Kats. We even had non-edibles like bento boxes, make-up and plushies.

fanime 2011


But even with all the cool things we sold and all the nice people who came to see us, and the AMAZING cosplay that we saw, working at the convention still wasn't easy. We were on our feet 99% of the day, and most of us are still feeling the back aches,fanime 2011 the foot cramps, and the leg pains. From set up to the time we left, the days could stretch well over 12 hours long, and lunch breaks were a rare commodity. We were constantly scrambling to find room in our cooler to keep the ramunes cold, and when a certain type of Pocky or Hello Panda ran out, we'd have to scramble through our mess of boxes in back to find the next set of candies. It didn't help that we had no place to sit, and only a few moments throughout each day to catch our breath. And was all the pain, the nightmarish fatigue, and hard work worth it? Of course it was, we know that Fanime isn't for the weak!


fanime 2011And to all the people who asked for Curry flavored Ramune or blueberry Kit-Kats, or Strawberry Calpico- we're sorry we didn't have them. But next year we'll bring even more of the rare, the tasty, and the weird.

If you had your picture taken with our models, or if you were cool enough to have a costume that drew the attention of our camera you can find those pics here. It was great seeing so many great Cosplay outfits and crazy characters. Some of our personal favorites were the Pyramid Head and nurse from Silent Hill, Jack and the splicer from Bioshock, the ghetto fabulous Mario Bros, the near complete cast of Avatar, the Dalek from Dr. Who, and of course, the storm trooper.

fanime 2011So all in all it was a fun, exhausting, exhilarating, loud, crazy, unforgettable four days. We sold a lot of candy and drinks, made a lot of new friends, probably pissed off our neighbors with all our yelling and goofing off, took a lot of pictures, and had an awesome time. Check out our pictures, and come see us next year!

Happy Chinese New Year!

green my tini

Chinese New Year is a magical time of year where gifts are exchanged, delicious food is served, beautiful decorations are put on display, and people travel many miles to be with one another. It is celebrated not only in China, but throughout many countries and China Towns across the world.

The specific date of Chinese New Year is determined partly by the lunar cycle, and usually ends up somewhere between Jan 21 and Feb 20. This year it will fall on February 3, and it is the year of the rabbit. People born under the rabbit are said to be cautious, wise, intuitive, fashion forward, peaceful, and always calm.

green my tiniFood is a very important part of the holiday. People will travel far, sometimes across the world, to sit down and have New Year's Eve dinner with family members they haven't seen in a long time. Upon entering a house, people are often greeted with "Chi fan le mei you?" which translates to "Have you eaten yet?"

Most of the food items served are chosen because they're associated with positive sounding words or images. Fish is served because the word is a homophone for surplus. Dumplings are eaten because they're believed to resemble a type of old Chinese gold brick. Mandarin oranges are served because they are associated with luck. Long, uncut noodles are often eaten to represent a long, prosperous year. Glutinous rice cakes called "Nian Gao" are eaten to bring prosperity and success.

green my tini

There are many other traditions of the New Year celebration. Some are outdated and purely regional while others are followed by everyone across the globe. Some people say to avoid using knives on New Year's Eve as it may sever a family's luck. Other people don't clean during the new year celebration because they may sweep away good fortune. Koi fish are considered good luck and an image of prosperity, so pictures of koi fish are displayed throughout many festivals. Red is considered a lucky color, and the festivals are usually covered in red lanterns, banners, and costumes because of this. Red envelopes are given to young, unmarried people, often with dollar amounts numbered in even numbers. Some do this under the belief that giving more envelopes will bring about better fortune for the new year.

Most importantly though, The Chinese New Year celebrates the same things that other cultures celebrate. A new beginning. A chance to end fueds, to rekindle old family ties and to hope for a better, more prosperous year.

So gather your loved ones this February, cook some great food with them, put on your best red outfit and get ready for a great year.

A Ginger Thanksgiving

Asian Food Grocer ThanksgivingIt's that time of the year again! Whether you love the food, the visiting family members, or just the football, Thanksgiving is always a time to get excited. And there's so much to be excited about! This year Asian Food Grocer is offering you a Ginger Thanksgiving. Yes, that's right, ginger. You know the stuff that comes on the side of your dish when you eat out at Sushi restaurants. Well that's ginger, and there are a million great uses for it. And not only that, but it's good for you! Read our Gingerly Blog for more information about this root. This year we're going to show you how to apply this wonderful stuff to your entire meal. Everything from the appetizers, to the side dishes, to the main course, and of course, a little post meal beverage surprise ;) Each Friday we'll be updating this blog with new recipes and tips for our Ginger Thanksgiving, so you can enjoy a delicious Turkey Day with an Asian-Food-Grocer twist.

Yuzu Ginger Thanksgiving TurkeyThe Main Course
Turkey is the cornerstone of Thanksgiving dinners, so it's important that it be done right. Listen to this "Tender Yuzu and Honey Turkey with a hint of Ginger". If that doesn't perk up your taste buds interest I don't know what will. This turkey is prepared with a variety of Asian Food Grocer's favorites: Delicious Yuzu Juice, Original Ramune Soda, of course Ginger; everything to make a unique, tender, moist holiday favorite. This recipe prepares quickly, about 15 minutes, and cooks in 2.5 hours.

Ginger Chicken DrumstickNow, if you're one of those few people who prefer not to eat turkey on Thanksgiving (like myself), then we've got you covered. You can make Chicken Ginger Drumsticks with our simple recipe. The end result will be a golden brown drumstick with subtle combinations of the sweet, tangy, and naturally juicy flavor of the chicken. Our recipe will make 12, but you can double or triple the ingredients to have 24 or 36. These are sure to satisfy, and they taste so good you may just forget the appetizers. But don't limit yourself, serve both Ginger Turkey and delicious Ginger Drumsticks alongside each other, and really amaze your guests!

Now if ginger isn't your cup of tea, you can check out our recipe section for some other great dinner options, like our proven Teriyaki Turkey or our traditional Sesame Chicken.

Birds & Flowers Dish SetBut who wants to have an Asian themed Thanksgiving meal without proper dinnerware to put it on? Just in time for Turkey Day, we have two brand new dish sets in stock. Both the Peony Dishware, as well as the Birds and Flowers Dishware. The Peony dishware is an elegant dish set made of extremely durable melamine, so you can drop it all you want, it won't shatter. The Birds and Flowers dishware is a colorful and stylish set, also made of melamine. Of all the dish sets Asian Food Grocer sells, the Birds and Flowers set has the most vivid and unique coloring. Perfect for a lavish Thanksgiving dinner!

Lastly, for this week, if you're looking for some great deals this year, come see our Clearance Section. You'll find everything from snacks and desserts to ingredients, even soy sauce, crackers and coffee. Everything for a great meal on a budget.

Come check back each Friday to see our updated recipes. Next week we'll be going over your side dishes. So take notes!

Side Dishes

We went over the main course last week and this week it's time to go over the side dishes. Different sides complement various meals, and everyone's got their own favorite foods, so we'll give you a couple options.

Thanksgiving side dishesNow, for those of you following along with our Ginger Thanksgiving we have Asparagus Salad with Pickled Ginger. This is a fairly simple side dish that's not too difficult to make, but will impress with its good looks and its delicious taste. The other side dish we have with our Ginger Thanksgiving is our Sweet Potato Tempura, which we've paired with our Soy Ginger Dipping Sauce. Because who wants tempura without something to dip it in? The sauce is sweet but tart, Thanksgiving side dishes with hues of onion, soy sauce, and of course ginger. You'll find the Sweet Potato Tempura is a perfect blend of the traditional Thanksgiving and some exceptional Asian cooking. If you're looking for a way to make your feast a little more unique give this a try. It's sure to intrigue and satisfy.

But if you're in a pinch and you don't have the time to make these side dishes, we offer you the perfect solution. Sunbird Seasonings. These seasoning packets do the work for you by adding great flavor to basic dishes like plain rice or chicken. Thanksgiving side dishesThey're also extremely versatile, meaning you can complement your main course any way you see fit. We recommend the Sun Bird Fried Rice, Sun Bird Stir Fry, or the Sun Bird Chinese Chicken Salad. All three are easy to make, and won't distract too much from the main course because they're delicious but fairly simple, as a side dish should be.


Of course, if you do plan on making all your meals without the aid of seasonings, you will need some good cutlery to slice and dice all your meat, herbs and vegetables. Thanksgiving side dishesTake a look at our Chinese and Japanese Knives to find some great deals and get just what you need to cook up a storm this Thanksgiving. We recommend that people, at the very least, have a good Santoku, Pairing Knife, and Chef's Knife. You can consult our Knife Blog if you need help with that.


Next week we'll be going over what every Thanksgiving meal would be incomplete without. The Dessert!

Ginger Desserts

Thanksgiving Dessert Everyone knows that dinner is just the thing between you and dessert, right? Of course it is! So let's get into it what you're really here for- the sweet stuff. For those of you who are following our Ginger Thanksgiving we have some really great desserts. Some of them are more traditional, and some of them you may have never heard of before, but it's all good stuff, and it'll be a perfect way to end any Turkey Day feast.

Pumpkin Pocky Cheesecake BarsHere's one that is going to be absolutely impossible to miss, and I plan on cooking it for my family this year: Pumpkin Pocky Cheesecake Bars!!! This recipe takes three of my most favorite things and puts them together; Pocky, Cheesecake, and Whip Cream. Crunchy-creamy and full of flavor; these bars are festive in color and ingredients, and are pretty easy to make. In my case, practice makes perfect, so make a couple batches for work or school too!

Thanksgiving Dessert Next up is the inevitable. What else could be dessert for a Ginger Thanksgiving, but a fresh baked tray of Gingerbread Men?! This treat isn't quite ancient, but gingerbread men do date back to 16th century England. So enjoy a dessert that predates Thanksgiving itself, with this super delicious and easy to make recipe.

Now if you're one of those people who opted not to follow along with our Ginger Thanksgiving, then that's ok. We still like you, a little bit... But we urge you to check out our Dessert Recipe Page to find a whole long list of ideas to make your Thanksgiving perfect. Some of the recipes you'll find there that you may want to consider are the Hello Kitty Green Tea Cupcakes, and the Yuzu Panna Cotta.

Thanksgiving Dessert

If you're looking for some unique dessert plates on which to serve your treats we recommend you check out our Bowls and Plates Page. Here you'll find all kinds of dinnerware and dessertware to serve your family and friends all the tasty treats you can make. Thanks for checking in with us and come back next week to get recipes for our appetizers and alcoholic beverages. We don't want to give anything away, but it may involve a Ramune-tini.

So far this blog has gone over the main course, the side dishes, and the ever important dessert. That seems pretty thorough, but doesn't it feel like it might be missing something? Of course it does! This week we're going over appetizers and alcoholic beverages. You can serve these before your Thanksgiving meal, or during the football games, and either way they're sure to intrigue and delight.

Ginger Appetizers

california rollsAppetizers should be simple. They should taste great, and they should be used more as a snack for socializing than anything really filling. After all, you don't want to fill up before the turkey arrives, but it is nice to have something to snack on while visiting with guests.

We have two recommendations for appetizers this Thanksgiving - the instant, and the easy. For an easy appetizer we recommend the California Roll, which is fairly simple to make, and quick to eat. It's not heavy enough to fill anyone's stomach, and can be put in a variety of dipping sauces. If you're feeling creative, you can even put out the ingredients and have your guests come together to make their own rolls. And since it's a Ginger Thanksgiving, we definitely recommend Soy Sauce with a little Pickled Ginger on the side.

honey rice crackerFor the instant appetizer, we recommend a variety of crackers. These can be put into Bowls and set out so that arriving guests can snack until everyone is there. Some crackers that we recommend are the Honey Rice Crackers (my personal favorite) as well as Spicy Wasabi Peas, Thai Rice Crackers, White Sugar Karintos, and Seaweed Rice Crackers. All of these treats are delicious and very light, so none of them will be particularly filling. And since these are really unique treats, especially in the USA, your guests are sure to be interested.

Next we'll go over something that may not have a place at every Thanksgiving table, but we think it's a fun and distinctive way to try something new, and if you're over 21 we encourage you to check them out. Of course, we're talking about our recipes for tasty, alcoholic drinks.

Green My TiniFirst up we have an AFG original, Ginger Vitis; because after all, this is a Ginger Thanksgiving. And don't let the name fool you, it's delicious!

We also encourage you to try our other AFG original creations, Green My Tini, which is styled after a martini, but with green tea as a main ingredient. Yellow Snow is a unique take on the margarita, except instead of dipping the glass rim in granulated sugar, you'll be dipping it in crushed Sugar Candy. And lastly our Thanksgiving Sweet and Spice, which is a sweet whiskey with pepper! These are just a few of the drinks we've prepared and you'll find more in our Appetizers section. Enjoy them, and please drink responsibly.

And lastly, Asian Food Grocer would like to wish you, as well as your family and friends, a wonderful Thanksgiving and we hope that our recipes make your holidays a little more unique, and a lot more fun. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

Huizong

Did you ever think that Tea could destroy an empire? Or that Moon Cakes could save one? It might sound impossible, but they did.

Emperor Huizong lived a thousand years ago, and he loved tea so much that he was called the "Tea Emperor." He wrote books about it, poems, made paintings and even had tea contests with his staff. He challenged them to see who could separate Ying De Tea from Jasmine Tea. Who could tell Shou Mei tea from Bi Luo Chun Tea Who could make a better Black Dragon Tea. He challenged everyone. And he commanded that his tea leaves be taken from the branches by virgins with golden scissors, and they were never allowed to actually touch the Leaves or his Tea Cups.

The Emperor was so obsessed with tea that he forgot to keep an eye on his neighbors. So when a nearby nation called the Jin invaded from the North, the emperor had no preperation, and he fled leaving his son with the job of defending China. Running didn't work however, as the Jin took over, and the emperor was captured anyway. The Mongolians saw the weakened China and quickly moved in, conquering the Jin. They ruled for almost a hundred years, and now you'll see why it was up to moon cakes to save the day.
Huizong
Mongolians forbade the Chinese from meeting in large groups, so organizing and forming a rebellion seemed impossible. Now, where the Emperor Huizong had failed miserably, the Chinese Ming rebels would succeed.

The Ming rebels started a rumor about a plague that could only be cured by moon cakes. This justified the Chinese spreading the tasty treats around. On the inside of each moon cake was a hidden message giving information about the time of the attack. And once the message was read, the cakes were eaten to destroy the evidence. The idea worked, and the Chinese launched a successful surprise attack. The Mongolians retreated, and the Chinese empire was restored, after over a century of suppression.
Huizong
So the next time you order some of our tea, don't forget the nation that it affected. And when you buy a moon cake from us this September, (to celebrate the Harvest Moon Festival!) just think of all the good it did.

Japan's FIRE Festival

Japan's Fire FestivalEvery year, from August 2-7 in Japan, the streets come alive with lumbering giants and explosions that light up the night sky. And no, it's not Godzilla come for revenge- it's the Aomori Nebuta Festival. Although its common nickname has become the FIRE FESTIVAL! It's the biggest summer festival in all of Japan, and each year millions go out to see the attractions.

The origins and initial meaning of the festival are unclear, and seem to be based more in legend than in fact. Some say its roots lie in the technique of using flutes and fireworks to distract the enemy on the battlefield. Others argue that its origins lie in a brutal 12 year war that took place over a thousand years ago, and that the losers of that war started it as a tradition to remember their fallen leader, General Aterui. But either way, the festival has come to embody the spirit and splendor of Japan itself.

Japan's Fire FestivalIt takes place in northern Japan, in the streets of the Aomori prefecture. There, colorful floats are pulled by volunteers and paraded in between the buildings, along the bay. The floats are brightly illuminated from within, and often depict famous samurai warriors, or legends from Japan's history. Although lately some of the floats have also come to represent characters from popular animes, and even some TV personalities. Musicians and professional dancers then follow the floats and stomp their feet on the ground, and dance throughout the procession. In addition, all people, even tourists, are encouraged to participate in the dancing. In order to do so you simply have to buy or rent a haneto costume, and follow the parade so you can dance all night long. The costume is a traditional white garb with bright colors coating them.
Fire Festival Lighted Float

Now, you may be wondering why it's called the Fire Festival, as it seems there's only floats, music, and people dancing. Well, on the final day, as the floats are carried out into the sea, a fantastic fireworks display erupts overhead, celebrating the end of the festival, and all the joy and spectacle that took place during those few, magical days. The darkness lights up, a beautiful array of colors reflects off the nearby ocean, and the massive, larger-than-life floats that inspired wonder and awe slowly drift away, until they are gone.

Fire Festival DancersThe Fire Festival is Japan's biggest summer festival for a reason. It's big, it's loud, anyone can participate, and it captures the imagination in ways that might seem impossible today. Go see the festival, dance until your feet hurt, laugh until your sides ache, and be part of a truly unforgettable experience.

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.