Be your own Iron Chef at Oceanic Trading Supermarket

[image-1]a visit here does make you feel that you stepped into another country.  Patrons are from Asia, West Indies and even Africa; you rarely hear English spoken and the only Americans you see might be some transients buying cigarettes. And then there are the aromas.  It may be strange to our western-acclimatized nose, but you are immediately aware that you have entered a market completely unlike your neighborhood Publix. Do not be scared! This just means that the place is the real deal!

My weekly shopping list varies depending on what my palate craves, however I almost always get fish (either snapper or fresh tilapia pulled straight from their tank), shrimp, and cuts of beef. One of my favourite Sunday meals is a Thai red curry and all my ingredients are sourced here: coconut milk, Thai curry paste, ginger, basil leaves, chilis, and whatever vegetables I picked up.  Of course, I always get dim sum and some char siu (Chinese BBQ) because I love to eat a little snack before I start cooking on Sunday. (It makes the wine taste better.)

[image-2]As you explore even further you realize that there is more than just fresh food at Oceanic. Pass the deli and  dim sum and you will see aisles stocked with a variety of dried goods and merchandise, like noodles of all kinds, bamboo steamers, tea sets, Chinese stoneware and even an herbal section that sells teas and dried roots.  I have been going here for years and still feel that there is so much more to discover.  A few visits here and your cooking and knowledge of ingredients will convince anyone that you should be the next Food Network chef!

There are other markets around, if anyone has one on their shortlist, let's hear about it!  And if great eats come out of your trip here, please share them with us!

In order to be the iron chef of your kitchen, you need to find your local Asian supermarket. Tampa has quite a few of them, usually Chinese- or Vietnamese-owned. Every foodie should have one of these on their shortlist. Oceanic Market is mine.

I was first introduced to Oceanic by a Vietnamese friend and have been going there every weekend since. Not strictly Chinese, the market is more a pan-Asian shopping spot, offering everything from ingredients for sushi to Szechuan peppercorns and wood ear mushrooms. The store has a produce department that offers a wide variety of hard to find yams, herbs and vegetables at very cheap prices, as well as a deli and a meat department.

Located in a transitional area just north of downtown Tampa,

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