Thursday, March 25, 2010

What I Had for Linner: Brooklyn's Chinatown

Hey there! There's an area of Manhattan called Chinatown, but the one I'm talking about is less knock-off purses and bootleg movies and more about serving the local population with food, ingredients and culture from home. I live in the middle of a neat vortex of flavor in Brooklyn ... just a few blocks below me is all South American food and culture, West is Greek, North is Middle Eastern and just past that, Italian, then to my East ... very appropriately, is Asian. I love it and these aren't hard lines, they all blur with other nationalities, so the shopping is great. There are probably several areas considered "Brooklyn's Chinatown" and I've even lived close to a miniature one, but the one I'm talking about is around the 8th Avenue area in the 50s-60s of Brooklyn. Asian specialty grocery shopping is the best there and there's nothing better than walking into a business where you are most-likely the only one that doesn't speak the language.

I usually tell people about my grocery shopping habits and they rang true on this neighborhood stroll. I rarely grocery shop with an intended list past the staples. So, I'll make a list for butter, garlic, milk and the basic stuff I need to stock my pantry and fridge, but when it comes to the produce and meat and such ... I just like to let the ingredients talk to me from the aisles. Kinda like looking at a menu with fresh eyes and reading every single description to see what pops out.

My recent trip to Brooklyn's Chinatown started with a quick bite at Popeye's so I wouldn't be too hungry while shopping, plus it's right across the street from the market, so that helped. Who am I kidding ... I LOVE POPEYE's lol and often call my visit to Chinatown, the "Popeye's Run". Ok, but that's not what was for linner (Lunch and Dinner together) ... Take a look at what was to offer and what I decided on ...
That's it right there, the Fei Long Market. It has aisles and aisles of Asian ingredients. Sometimes I give myself an allotment of 4 or 5 new ingredients and I just pick them randomly and play with them at home, but today was all about the seafood selection by the fish mongers. Look what you see when you round the corner from the side entrance ...
Want a close up? It's hard to find even in Manhattan, it's some geoduck clams hanging over the edge, some fish I've never seen before and some snail-like mollusks.
Just next to them, the razor clams and eels.
The eels were just some happy swimmers! Then you turn the corner and run into the fish monger station. I can't tell you how many different kinds of fresh fish they have and the case that the ice-chilled fish sits on is a huge aquarium and there are about a jillion fish in there just swimming away waiting on fillet time ... grim, I know, but I like fish.
Then, just for fun I walked around to the other side of the store to the freezer/fridge section and ran into some black chicken! I mean really, this is hard to find in NYC and I've only had it once in my life!!

Crazy exotic ingredients, huh? You should see the aisles! Wanna know what I ended up buying and making for dinner?? Take a look ...
Yes, the not so exotic ... mussels! I know ... pretty benign choice given my options. Sorry, this is the "after" and not the "before" picture, but it was good and I didn't think to take a picture until the massacre was over. I sat there filled with sopping bread and mussels trying to figure out how I went to such a familiar place given my options. I dunno, I guess I couldn't help myself when I saw them sitting in the netting. One look and I knew they were farmed and that's less cleaning, less grit and of course, no beard removal. That means easy! Easy is what I do!

If you want my recipe, it's on the newest episode of Cooking for Real this Saturday at noon, great coincidence because I actually pitched this show last year when I was going through a mussels phase and given my options at the grocery store, maybe the phase has revisited.

I titled this week's Cooking for Real "I Want Mussels" I blogged about it last year and I even called the blog I Want Mussels, give a look at the blog post and you'll get a preview of things to come on this weekend's show. I share my recipe for Mussels with Chorizo on the show as well as my version of sopping bread I appropriately call Sop-tastic Garlic Bread. To wash it all down and I toss in my Honeydew Tropic Freeze at the end. Hope you catch it and give the recipes a try! It's easy and mussels are pretty fast if you buy them like I did. Beards are for the birds.

Ok, don't forget ...
New episode of Cooking for Real is this Saturday @ noon/est!! Catch it or DVR it! :-)


Cassandra Boston said...

Hi Sunny, When I enter the grocery store I immediately get excited like its some type of recreational activity. Strange huh! I was just fussing at myself this morning because I always go to the grocery without any preplanned meal ideas in mind. But now that you say that you do the same thing I guess I will continue doing what i'm going.

The only drawback that I have about grocery shopping is that I tend to stay in the store for hours just looking at what they have to offer. The majority of the time I'm in the store I'll be looking for the easiest thing that I can cook that won't take a lot of time and make too big of a mess. I've told you before that I have a spinal cord injury so it's very difficult to cook and and clean up afterward. I believe just thinking about the clean up is the one thing that keeps me from a good meal sometime.

The Duo Dishes said...

Hitting up ethnic grocery stores is so fun...maybe a little scary sometimes. Still haven't seen a black chicken in the markets near us, but it'd be fun to play with.

Lana said...

Lol, I've been waiting a year for this ep! Will be sure to tune in. I love my mussels easy shmeezy, with a simple white wine sauce. I've also made a tasty mussel bisque, when crab / lobster is just too darn pricey. :-) It's kind of rainy/snowy here today; might just have to go with a bisque tonight! And I'll have leftover mussels for Saturday night? Might have to pick up some chorizo .... --L

tamilyn said...

How funny-we say "linner" at our house all the time!

Not a big seafood fan, but the pictures are incredible. I'm jealous of all the different markets that the coasts have. Landlocked here in MN, we have to wait until summer and then we only get them for a few months....unless you have time to travel to the Twin cities.

Sunny Anderson said...

cassandra boston, yeah, don't feel bad. even when i make a list i get distracted, so i figure why not just graze and slowly check out each aisle? many grocery stores here sell only that, no bath products or beauty/health products. so it's just a sea of food to view. about the mess in the kitchen and how to curb it, i say one pot meals that start and end there and casseroles that maybe only need a bowl to be mixed in before poured into the casserole. those are the easiest clean ups for me, usually just a knife, cutting board, pot and a cooking utensil. plus while you have the energy do al the chopping and washing of veggies you buy and store them in a container with moist paper towels over them. makes it faster when you go to actually cook during the week.

the duo dishes, ita. i can't get enough of it. i like the variety and the discoveries. pretty neat to still play with new ingredients. if you want me to ship you a black chicken over night, just let me know! lol ...

lana, yaaaay! cool, huh? i'm telling you about it on the blog last year and this year it's on the air. still really neat to me that i get to share in a foodie way. i totally think chorizo is a good one to add to your list, and some cilantro too :-), plus a heavy amt of garlic and parm. i think i may have mussels again this weekend. totally on a kick ... lemme know if you like the show and recipes!

tamilyn, cool stuff, because i eat at all times of the day. linner works for me sometimes, then other times i'm eating at midnight wondering what went wrong lol. and for your seafood thing, i get it ... it wasn't until i visited new orleans that i fell in love with seafood, before that, all i could handle were oysters. funny huh?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sunny,
As always, I really enjoyed the show this weekend! My mom was a real "Chick of the Sea", lol, but I play it safe most times. My hubby on the other hand will eat just about anything that He worked on the docks for so long and has just about tasted and seen it all. I do love how you take your time and simply walk us through every step of the had me wanting to step out of my shell.:) I'm gonna try them real soon. Hope all is well with you and I see so many great things coming your way. May GOD continue to Bless and keep you is my prayer. BTW, when will you be coming to the "Dirty South"?


Cassandra said...

Hi Sunny!

I am so proud of you!!!!As a Detroit native, I get really excited when I see personalities from this area(be it transplanted or otherwise) make it on a national scale.

I am the news editor for, a online lifestyle womens magazine that provides daily content to our readers across the country.

I would like to interview you for our site. I know our readers would love to hear your about rise to stardom!Please advise of whom I need to contact that would facilitate the process.

Congratulations on all your success! I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Eric said...

"I want mussels" I love the Diana Ross and Michael Jackson song pun LOL, I recently discovered how good mussels are like 2yrs ago and now its one of my favorte shellfish. By the way, did you ever find out more about that "pearl" you found in those Mussels that time?

Anonymous said...

Hi Sunny,

It has been awhile since my last comment, but have always stopped by to catch up on your travels and eats. I love this story, as I live in the 40's in Brooklyn and have enjoyed the wonders of Brooklyn Chinatown. I recently posted a mussels dish on my own blog, take a look

Have a Happy Easter!

Camille Cares

Sunny Anderson said...

cassandra, thanks so much. you are right when you say transplanted, but i gotta tell you i left a piece of me in the d ... miss it plenty and have plans to visit in the next month!!! gotta get some nat'l coney island!!! if you'd like an interview, just send me your email addy and i'll link you with my pr person at the network :-). i'll do it!

eric, did diana and michael do it? i know grace jones did ... either way ... luv mussels!! btw, neither rocks were pearls :-( ...

camille cares, heyyyyyyyyy!!! long time no seeeee ... we should meet at cuchi frito in the 50s one day .. email me!

Eric said...

LOL yeah, Michael Jackson wrote it for Diana, and u can hear him faintly in the background on her version :) Check out the video, I was born in 1980 but I'm an early 80's music fan!

Sunny Anderson said...

eric, you learn something everyday, huh? here i am a huge michael fan and didn't even know that! thanks for the link!