By LeAnn Nguyen
March 26, 2018

For those who aren’t used to it, a lot of items at an Asian grocery store can seem quite strange. Being thousands of years old, Asian cuisine has learned to make use of almost everything nature has to offer! These ingredients are not only tasty but also contain a great deal of beneficial nutrients. Even those in who grow up on these foods may not know about their healthy qualities.

Good thing for all of us, Seattle is home to a handful of Asian markets. Here are a few places where you find these super foods and lots more!

Asian Food Center – 13200 Aurora Ave N
Hau Hau Market – 412 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98144
Viet Wah Supermaket – 1032 S Jackson St
Island Pacific Seafood Market – 6040 Martin Luther King Jr Way S

Taro

Popular across many cultures, this purple root vegetable is a great source of dietary fiber. It also contains anthocyanins, which can have anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects. Taro is versatile in that it can complement both sweet and savory dishes. You can prepare taro how you would most tubers: baked, roasted, fried, to name just a few methods.

Taro is particularly important to Hawaiians, who believe that the taro plant was the original ancestor of the Hawaiian people. Poi, a staple taro dish in Hawaiian cuisine, can be found at Kauai Family Restaurant in Seattle!

Jicama

Native to Mexico but popular in many places, jicama is another root vegetable that’s beneficial and easy to cook. It is full of vitamins and mineral and is a great source of soluble fiber. Jicama has a lightly sweet and earthy flavor with high water content and a crunchy texture.

Jicama can be peeled and consumed raw like a fruit – goes perfectly with chili salt for a fun snack. Sliced or julienned, jicama can be fried or baked to make a healthier alternative to French fries, which you might keep in mind the next time you’re making a burger or sandwich.

Bok Choy

Also known as “Chinese cabbage,” this leafy green vegetable is already popular an excellent addition to many stir-fry dishes. It has a soft green leafy top that’s mildly bitter like most leafy vegetables. The stem and bulb, however, is sweet and crunchy. Talk about versatility! Even better, it’s a great source of Vitamins A and C, as well as the mineral selenium, which can have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.

Bok choy can replace cabbage in most dishes. It’s often seen in Chinese stir-fried vegetable dishes but can work well in soups to add sweetness and can also be served raw in salads.

Barley Tea

Not every superfood needs to be eaten! If you prefer to drink yours, try out this caffeine-free tea made from roasted grains. This tea is quite different from the usual stuff – it’s not even made from tea plants – with a smoky flavor due to its preparation. It’s very popular across East Asia, not only for its taste but also the health benefits. It’s high in vitamins and antioxidants and also aids in digestion and blood circulation. Barley tea might also help to ease nausea, so try it next time you’re feeling a bit queasy.

Jujube

This date-like fruit has been cultivated in South Asia since 9000 BC and it’s easy to see why. Jujube, also known as red date or Chinese date, contains an abundance of saponins, which have sedative properties and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat insomnia and anxiety. Jujubes also contain high levels of the antioxidant flavonoids, making them a sweet treat you don’t have to feel guilty about afterwards. Clinical trials have found that it is helpful to treat chronic constipation.

Culinarily, it is also multitalented. It’s often eaten as a snack raw, dried, smoked, or candied. It can be preserved as a wine, pickle, or jam & marmalade.