Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pâte De Soja

Having lived in San Francisco for nearly eighteen years before moving to France, Ken and I developed a taste for good Asian food. Chinese, of course, but Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisines were big favorites. Filipino, Malaysian, Korean, it was all available.

We know that there are great Asian restaurants in Paris. But out here in the countryside such exotic cooking is hard to come by. We decided that we would make our own Asian food, to the best of our ability, that is. And we do all right. Not gourmet fare, but decent stir-fries, noodle dishes, and even our own egg-rolls (nems) and spring rolls (rouleaux de printemps), and California rolls.

So we searched for ingredients. Our local supermarchés have tiny little foreign food sections made up mostly of Old El Paso Mexican ingredients, some Portuguese things in cans, and some very basic, and quite expensive, mass-market Asian things. Among them, soy sauce, bean sprouts in a jar, rice noodles, and pre-made microwaveable meals.

A friend told us that there was an Asian grocer in nearby Blois, but we couldn't find it. And I'm sure there must be some in Tours, but that's an hour each way.

This is the label from the can of tofu that we buy in Paris.

I went online to find an Asian connection. The best I could do was to find Tang Frères, a huge Asian food importer in Paris with several stores in the metropolitan area. So we decided that Asian food shopping was as good an excuse as any for a drive to Paris every now and then. And, whenever we happen to be in Paris, a stop in the 13th (a large Asian population and the site of several Tang and many other Asian grocery stores) is usually on the agenda.

We normally get things like dried mushrooms, all varieties of dried noodles, Asian sauces, rice paper, cans of baby corn or bamboo shoots, sushi rice, wasabi, and other stuff that fills up the pantry. What we can't really get for storage is fresh food. Like tofu.

Except that we can. As in CAN. It's not fresh, but tofu in cans does exist, and I have to say, it's not bad. Especially if that's all you can get. So we buy cans of tofu and use it in our stir fries and other Asian dishes. It's not bad. Really. Not the same as fresh, but ok, nonetheless. Trust me.


  1. these folks allege that you can make tofu if you buy their soy milk making machine.

  2. here's a DIY recipe with epsom salts (!).

  3. Have you tried freezing fresh tofu? I've done it a few times when my menu changed at the last moment, and the results were acceptable. This assumes, of course, that you can get fresh tofu. But what a lovely excuse for a jaunt up to Paris.

  4. I'd bet tofu is something that would can well. Hey, if it's what you got, go for it! I often use canned artichokes and hearts of palm in salads and stuff.

  5. purejuice, thanks, that's interesting!

    susan, I would never have thought that tofu could be frozen.

    ginny, it is pretty good. Especially when we fry it before using it. I can't tell the difference between that and fresh, really.

  6. Hey! I get a bunch of my stuff from I don't know if they will ship to France, however, they have excellent Thai products. They have various other Asian items, however, they specialize in Thai food and the products to make them. Worth a shot. However, I would take Paris over a website any day.


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