My next installment of “Cooking in the Shower” is about finding some non traditional ingredients. You might be perfectly content with the traditional ingredients offered at the Japanese grocery. If you are, you are lucky and your finances will thank you. But if you are like me and need a little variety once in a while, here are the best “import” items to buy that I have found readily available. Many Yamaya’s carry these, which is like the BevMo of Japan. Or look for import grocers like Jupiter’s or the chain Pecce.
Olives: canned green and black olives make a nice addition to pasta
Yellow mustard: all the dijon-style mustards in Japan use horseradish like the Chinese powdered mustard. For a normal mustard you will have to search the imports, but it comes in handy when you want hot dogs
Maple syrup: they sell syrup in the Japanese markets, but it is always tiny and expensive. Just go for the real stuff which is practically the same price
Oatmeal: the only place I have found oats is at the import market. Japan doesn’t seem big on whole grains
Cheese: import cheeses I have found include goat cheese, feta, pepper jack, brie, cheddar and gouda. Pretty expensive for what little you get. The goat cheese seemed to be the best deal at $5 and I used it for over a week
Beer: The Yamayas carry many non-Japanese beers, they are even more expensive. I saw a 12 oz bottle of Corona for $3. Big bottles of Duvel seemed the best option at $10.
Wine: A decent bottle of wine is not going to be cheap, but you can find some Napa, Argentina and French varietals at the Yamaya
Alcohol: the Yamaya will have the best selection of spirits if you want something besides sake and soju
Snacks: I found bags of pretzels at the Yamaya for $1! They also have real tortilla chips and salsa, but not as cheap
Misc. ethnic items: Each store is a bit different, but they usually have an Italian section, Indian foods (I saw ghee the other day), Thai soups and coconut milk, and one store even had a Mexican section complete with tacos. I also picked up some couscous and gnocchi for a good price, plus some authentic Kraft Mac and Cheese to feed my artificial orange addiction.