We’re so lucky to live in an age when even the smallest of towns has a plethora of what used to be called’ethnic groceries’.
Ingredients that once were as rare as hens’ teeth can now be found in the aisle next to the cornflakes in the corner shop.
That said though, you can’t get everything you might want, and not all of us live in towns with a large multi-cultural population.
I’m lucky as near me is a big’Oriental Supermarket’; a cavern of a place where pre-pandemic you’d see an endless stream of Asian restaurateurs wheeling out trolleys full of ingredients for the week – fresh and tinned, and jarred and packeted.
It’s an Aladdin’s Cave for me, I can spend hours in there inspecting all the weird and the wonderful things.
That said, the staff while perfectly friendly, generally have no time for my hesitant questions or requests for a translation of packet copy. And I don’t blame them.
So I was pretty pleased to find I can do all my Chinese/Thai ingredient shopping online at Hello Oriental, an online supermarket offering high quality ingredients all under one roof with nationwide next day delivery.
They say they have the largest choice of cook-at-home dim sum, noodles, and condiments in the UK, and I believe them.
What have they got? Well what haven’t they got. So much of what’s on offer is new to me, but the copy is in English and I have the time to Google stuff to help me fill my virtual basket.
As the Chi Yip Group Ltd Based in Middleton just outside of Central Manchester, they’ve been supplying the North West region for years, while sub brand Hello Oriental now supplies nationwide with their own fleet of refrigerated lorries.
That said, they won’t deliver ultra-fresh foods that go off quickly any further than the local area. Fair enough.
It’s not just Chinese ingredients, it’s Thai, Korean and Japanese too with fresh vegetables, frozen meats and fish, and even drinks such as sake, as well as soft drinks.
Interestingly they do many favourites that are gluten free, such as Lee Kum Kee Gluten Free Oyster Sauce and also a gluten free Teriyaki.They also stock my favourite Soy Sauce, Kikkoman, in a lower salt version, so we ordered all of these sauces plus a rather exciting looking big jar of Broad Bean Sauce in Chili Oil (fermented bean paste or doubanjiang).
We used that in a Mapo Tofu, that classic Szechuan dish and it was an absolute belter – salty, smooth and with a heck of a kick. And at £2.95 for a big jar, it will go a long way.
I’ve never tried a Su Pear, or Century Pears, these are rounder than British pears and crisper with a texture of water chestnut. We ordered some of these and they came well wrapped and unbruised. Very good added to salads and for Anglo-Chinese fusion rather tasty we found with a hunk of Stilton.
You know those strange bunches of ‘peas’ you sometimes see in Oriental shops? They are pea aubergines, slightly bitter raw and perfect in Thai curries where the bitterness disappears to be replaced by the flavours of the curry.
I love the way they pop in the mouth and Hello Oriental can send these nationwide as well as galangal, the Thai version of ginger root.
It’s not easy to find galangal local to me, but I love its milder but more complex flavour in Tom Yum soup.
I won’t bore you with the rest of my online haul, (but big shout out to the bag of dried mushrooms), but we’re set up for quite a while now.
Massive choice and good prices, plus nationwide delivery, means Hello Oriental can keep you cooking creatively through lockdown and beyond with your essentials cupboard well-stocked and your exotic ingredients to hand.
To order from Hello Oriental, simply visit www.hello-oriental.com. All orders are sent next day delivery, with delivery price determined by weight of parcel. Chilled and Frozen produce are delivered by a special chilled service to ensure every product arrives in perfect condition.
Click & Collect is also available from the Chi Yip supermarket in Manchester.