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A Gluten free adventure at the Asian market

Posted Nov 21 2008 2:59pm

Who knew that Asian markets were gluten free treasure troves?  A recent trip to my local Asian market turned up a number of gluten free products at very reasonable prices. For some reason, xanthum gum comes in large sizes at my local Asian market. I wonder how Asians use xanthan gum in such quantities. Most gluten free bread recipes only require a teaspoon or so.  Also on the shelf were rice noodles, Japanese soba noodles (buckwheat) and arrowroot.  Arrowroot makes a very nice creamy sauce thickener.  In my regular store it only comes in small bottles in the spice section. Here it was sold by the pound.  On occasion,  I have also seen rice bran pasta for only $1.99 a bag. A bargain for sure!  Among my other finds was a large bottle of gluten free tamari sauce.

I have become a convert to Asian rice. I haven’t taken to buying the 20 lb bags yet, but do like to keep a smaller bag on hand.  Put in the rice cooker, it makes an easy starch side dish. 

My big disappointment was the cracker aisle. I knew that the Japanese had many snack foods based on rice. Both sides of one aisle were stocked with these kind of crackers and snacks.  Unfortunately, most of them had flavors of unknown origin or soy sauce as ingredients. I did find a box of Want Want Rice Crackers (not a typo! that’s the name).  They tasted like Quaker rice cakes but without the bumps. They were also a good size - about 3 1/2 ” diameter - and packaged in twos in individual cellophane bags.  Another cracker by Little Farms tasted like Rice Krispie treats. Again it was conveniently individually packaged.

The fresh produce section had some exotic fruits and vegetables.  The fruit was cheaper than at my local supermarket. I am not sure how to prepare some of the other vegetables displayed.  I don’t have any cassava recipes. 

 Sometimes the English translation of the Asian names was humorous - e.g. “Want Want Crackers”  What on earth is “fried gluten”? Not something I could eat but what does one do with it?

 I look forward to my next adventure outing and some more gluten free discoveries.

Lynn Cicero, M.S.,R.D.

www.celiacdietitian.com

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