I’m frequently asked to share which are the best products to choose in an asian supermarket since I buy all my asian stuff for at least half of the price (comparatively to a regular chain supermarket), avoiding to get ripped off and guaranteeing genuine authenticity (might sound weird coming from Asia, hun).
So first things come first, if you want the real deal – asian wise – you have to go roots style and find the source. Either products from Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, China, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore, etc. There are 3 different asian supermarkets in Martim Moniz area where I divide my shopping list – I’ll put their names and more info in the end of the post. Whatever missing in one of them, the others will for sure list in. I’ll break the suggestions list into different chapter posts being this first one all about the best healthy products you should buy there. I’ll let you know also how I use each one of them but bear in mind there are at least 1000 other ways to use them so feel free to find the best suitable option for you – and share it with us by leaving a comment.
#1. Bio Green tea matcha (8,49€)
This is pure gold and it’s part of my morning routine as a tea to kick-off my day and my afternoons in the form of a matchinno – cappuccino version where the coffee is replaced for the tea. Sometimes I also add a tea spoon on my oatmeal pancakes or for cake baking. I’m seriously addicted to it and I recommend it to all the already green tea lovers, otherwise the flavor might be too strong for you.
#2. Peanut paste sugar free (2,50€)
Yes, hon, it’s healthy when you choose the right one – 100% of peanuts like this one with no sugar or oil added – and if you don’t mix it with all the ice cream you can find in the freezer. However, eat it in the right measure! For me, suits me best after my RPM and HIIT workouts with an oatmeal pancake or if I’m really hungry, I also add a banana and some nuts with cinnamon on top.
#3. Aloe Vera sugar free drink (0,99€)
Aloe Vera it’s the next big thing but just didn’t find its momentum in portuguese soil yet but it will. It has a very particular flavor which might not suit every taste but give it a try if you tend to like natural drinks. It’s claimed to be good for the immune system, skin in general and digestion, among others.
#4. 100% pure coconut oil (3,95€)
I started using it in Thailand for the first time and since then I’ve seriously fall in love. And I’m not one of those coconut oil psychos that use it everywhere BUT the truth is I don’t know any other multifunction product like this. I used mainly on my cookings as a substitute for oil and even olive oil, as a deep night hair mask and for dry skin, especially on winter. The jar option is the best one since it’s easier to withdraw the oil when is solid. However, if you choose to buy the bottle, just warm it up a bit on hot water before.
#5. Rice paper (1,95€)
You’ll find a multitude of sizes! They look hard and are well-packed but there isn’t such delicate thing as a thin rice paper roll. They’re low in calories (circa 20 kcal per sheet) and require very little preparation. Just dip them in hot water and they’ll soften up easily. I usually cook them as a spring roll/wrap and put all kind of veggies inside. They’re a great option especially in the summer.
#6. Lemongrass (0,90€)
Its fragrance kills me (in a good way) and it’s universally recognizable. Lemongrass isn’t usually sold in normal supermarkets so the frozen option works perfectly for me as I only use in very specific dishes or for tea. You might be lucky and find its fresh version which of course has a punchier flavor.
#7. Black sesame seeds (2,75€)
You won’t find them in any other supermarket type and I definitely preferred them in black (although I mix them with the white seeds) for their unique nuttier flavor and kick-ass presentation on the plate. I always toast them up a bit on a clean pan to release the flavor and fragrance as well as increase the crunchiness. Then, I use them to sprinkle on salads, yoghurts, soups, veggies, stir-fried or steamed dishes, pretty much everything. Google all the nutritious facts about these little gems – you’ll be surprised.
#8. Sweet potato noodles (1,35€)
This specific type of noodles come from Korea and are made from sweet potato starch – totally gluten free – with a chewy and glassy texture. They’re an excellent option to rice noodles and for me work better on a broth or slightly stir-fried, otherwise, it gets too slippery for my taste.
#9. 100% natural Coconut water (1,89€)
There’s no other drink that makes me feel as refreshed and invigorated as coconut water. I always have one bottle on my fridge ready to drink – it’s kind of mandatory to drink it cold in order to reach its highest potential of freshness. Besides the simple one, I suggest as well the flavored with pomegranate and guava.
#10. Tapioca pearls (1,20€)
I prefer the big tapioca pearls added on my tea latte but the small ones taste great on cold desserts combined with fruit as well. I usually don’t cook them at home because I got traumatized the first and only time I did – I thought it would be piece of cake so I’ve followed my cooking intuition and cooked it without any guideline whatsoever. Turned out too thick and gluey and for the dish I wanted to do the starch needed to be extracted. So, don’t pretend like me and search for the right way to prepare it.
#11. Bok choy cabbage (1,50€)
They’re extremely common in China, in the same measure as our portuguese kale. Although it’s called cabbage, it doesn’t taste like it at all! I use both the leaves and the stems, again stir-fried (with a bit of garlic, ginger and sesame oil) or simply blanched. Note that the leaves and stalks have different textures needing distinct cooking times. The leaves are similar to spinach and the stems are crunchy and tend to be watery at the same time. It’s perfect as a side dish.
#12. Rice noodles (1,15€)
It’s incredibly cheap and definitely worth to buy. Its beyond simple cooking process (just soaked them in hot water with no need to be boiled) amazes me so it’s one of those unmissable staples in my pantry – love to eat them with a bunch of veggies or featured in a cold salad. You can find a multitude of sizes (thin/vermicelli, medium/linguine shape and wide/tagliatelle shape).
#13. Dried rose bud & Dried jasmine flower (3,49€)
Love tea but don’t like the caffeine in it? Then, these two flower teas are for you. They’re extremely fragrant, look beautiful floating on hot water, caffeine-free and also perfect for a gift. I enjoy drinking it at night, after dinner, somehow it calms down the day fuss. Don’t confuse the dried jasmine flowers with jasmine tea – this last one has green tea added which contains caffeine.
#14. White and brown Shimeji mushrooms (1,40€)
I’m such a big fan of this type of mushrooms, especially the brown ones. You just need to remove the base and separate into small pieces. Again, they don’t need much cooking wise so the least you do, the better. I like them slightly stir-fried or simply steamed to keep all the juiciness and flavor, give me a hot rice bowl and some soy sauce and I’ll be happy. Keep it simple, it tastes better.
#15. Goji seeds (3,50€)
They act a superfood and antioxidant and I usually soak and rehydrate them in cold or hot water to release all the goodies, drink the liquid and finally eat the seeds as a snack or mixed on a salad/yoghurt. The flavor is at the same time sweet and sour which I love.
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Supermarket Wan (biggest of all 3 with huge variety) Address: Rua da Palma, 266, 1100-394 Lisboa
Supermarket Hua Ta Li (the owner speaks very well Portuguese in case you need some extra help and they have take away food)Address: Rua Fernandes da Fonseca, 16, 1100-238 Lisboa
Supermarket Amanhecer (a true blend of an asian supermarket with a portuguese twist – you’ll understand why) Address: Rua Palma 41, 1100 Lisboa