I’m a specialty food store junkie, and Pacific Ocean Marketplace on Alameda Avenue sells some of my favorite short-cut ingredients for Southeast Asian and Indian flavors:
– I love ABC brand kecap manis—a thick, dark, soy syrup sweetened with palm sugar. Skewer small pieces of chicken thigh meat or strips of fatty pork pounded flat, liberally brush with sauce, and cook quickly over very hot coals: Voilà, the smoky, sweet, caramelized flavor you get from a satay stand in Java or Bali. The sauce is also great brushed on grilled pork chops, even ribs, when meat is almost done on the grill.
– Good peanut sauce involves a lot of grinding of aromatic spices, but the Bumbu Pecel and Bumbu Ketoprak blocks ($2.29) from Rotary are unbelievably easy: Just crumble the mix of peanuts and spice into hot water, stir, and you have a thick sauce for satay, rice, or a gado-gado salad.
– If you like those jars of curry simmering sauce now in vogue but find them a bit pricey, try packets of spice pastes like Asian Home Gourmet’s Thai Red Curry (lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime, and more), or Indian Vindaloo Curry (coriander, vinegar, ginger, cinnamon), $1.99. I like to slowly sautée minced onion, garlic, and ginger, stir in the pastes, then add coconut milk or water to make a sauce that’s perfect for chicken, fish, shrimp, or beef.
2200 W. Alameda Ave., 303-936-4845