Oh, the tasty treasures you'll find on a trip to an Asian market

  • Prep all the ingredients you'll need to whip up a stir-fry.

    Prep all the ingredients you'll need to whip up a stir-fry. Courtesy of Don Mauer

Posted5/26/2021 6:00 AM

An Asian friend from Mandarin China now living here asked me if I'd ever shopped at an H Mart. I'd never heard of H Mart, an Asian superstore, which started out as a Korean market.

My first shopping experience at an H Mart surprised me; the store was huge, like a supermarket huge. The next time I went to an H Mart, I brought a foodie friend, and he was more surprised than I was at what was available.


What was available? Just about anything you can name in Asian foods, not just Korean foods.

If you have a taste for kimchi, they have more types than you can imagine. Beyond that, there's a vast produce area, meats, fresh fish (some swimming around in fish tanks) and aisle after aisle of ingredients canned and frozen, along with kitchen utensils and in-store prepared foods. My friend and I slowly walked every inch of the store and kept loading up our carts, quitting because we were tired.

The H Mart store had a wide variety of fresh mushrooms, some with which you're probably familiar, like shiitake and some with which you might not be familiar, like white or brown beech mushrooms. Beech mushrooms come attached and vary in size from about 1½-inches high with a nice cap to tiny ones, like miniature mushrooms. When I cooked with them, I found that I could add them at nearly the end of a stir-fry since they cook quickly.

Steak and mushroom stir-fry.
Steak and mushroom stir-fry. - Courtesy of Don Mauer

I also found a wide variety of bok choy (an Asian cabbage) from baby bok choy to much larger ones, some with white stems, others with pale green stems, making deciding difficult.

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Baby bok choy is relatively easy to work with. Trim the bottom stem root end, and the bok choy comes apart. Rinse each stem well and cut the stem ends in slices and the leafy end into bigger pieces. The stem end takes two minutes to cook; the leaves cook like spinach, usually in less than a minute.

My final produce purchase was sugar snap peas, a personal favorite. Fresh sugar snaps need to have a tough string that runs down the side from the stem end to the tip removed -- minor hassle; worth the effort.

I couldn't wait to get home to use all my new ingredients, especially to taste the organic tamari sauce (it's Japanese soy sauce made without wheat).

Preparing everything for an Asian stir-fry is what eats up the clock. I made a meat marinade using ginger juice, fresh garlic, my new tamari, potato starch, sesame oil and crushed red pepper.


I sliced the steak across the grain to make it as tender as possible and added it all to the marinade, and got everything else ready while the beef absorbed all that flavor goodness.

Beech mushrooms come in brown and white varieties.
Beech mushrooms come in brown and white varieties. - GettyImages.com

Using beef tallow from grass-fed, grass-finished beef would bump up my stir-fry flavor another notch. Usually, I used unrefined peanut oil.

Since I wanted to keep carbohydrates low, I started to warm up some frozen riced cauliflower instead of using higher carbohydrate rice.

Once ready, I stir-fried everything together in just a few minutes. It looked as good as any dish from an Asian restaurant.

Give it a try.

• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@theleanwizard.com.

Steak, Mushroom, and Bok Choy Stir-Fry

1 tablespoon bottled ginger juice (or 2 tablespoons grated ginger)

1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic

3 tablespoons tamari or wheat-free soy sauce

1 tablespoon potato starch (or cornstarch)

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)

1 pound flank or skirt steak, trimmed and thinly sliced across the grain

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (about ½ pound)

8 ounces sugar snap peas stem end trimmed, and strings removed.

1 (3.5-ounce) package white Beech mushrooms, bottom root end trimmed off and separated

4 cups sliced baby bok choy (about 2-3 heads), thinly sliced crosswise; separating stem slices end from leaf end

2 tablespoons beef tallow or peanut oil, divided

½ cup beef broth (organic preferred)

Combine ginger juice (or ginger), garlic, tamari (or soy sauce), potato starch (or cornstarch), sesame oil, and crushed red pepper in a medium bowl; add steak and marinate for 20 minutes.

While meat marinates prepare remaining ingredients.

Heat a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 teaspoons beef tallow (or oil) and when shimmering, add onions, shiitake mushrooms and sugar snap peas and stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes, until onions soften, and sugar snaps are a brighter green. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add 2 teaspoons beef tallow to the pan and when shimmering add the bok choy stems and sauté 2 minutes then add the bok choy leaves and cook for 1 minute or until wilted; transfer to the onion mixture bowl.

Add 2 teaspoons tallow to the pan and when shimmering, add steak mixture and cook for 3 minutes or until just losing its pink color, stirring occasionally. Add Beech mushrooms to the pan and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add broth to the pan and stir into the mixture. Add sugar snap pea mixture and stir fry until combined and sauce thickens slightly. Serve immediately over prepared rice or riced cauliflower.

Serves 4.

Nutrition values per serving (without rice): 338 calories (43.7 percent from fat), 16.4 g fat (6.8 g saturated fat), 17.6 g carbohydrates (12.7 net carbs), 4.6 g sugars, 4.9 g fiber, 30.8 g protein, 40 mg cholesterol, 977 mg sodium.

Don Mauer

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