Louisville is filled with a huge variety of Asian restaurants. Sometimes though, I just want to hang out at home and not go out to eat, but even take out can be expensive after awhile. My solution? I started cooking my own Asian dishes at home. To get authentic and cheap ingredients, I shop on South Third Street. Near the ValuMarket are three locally owned Asian grocery stores filled with everything you need to bring Southeast Asia into your home.
Vietnam Oriental Market – 5019 S. Third Street
A-Chau Grocery Store – 5105 S. Third Street
Phuoc Binh Grocery – 5301 S. Third Street
Here’s a simple recipe for Phad Thai (Thai Fried Noodles) that you can make at home. If you can’t find tamarind, just purchase a bottle of Phad Thai sauce. It has tamarind in it already and then you can disregard the last four ingredients below but add 1 tbsp of fish sauce and 1 tbsp of soy sauce instead.
1-package narrow rice noodles (make sure to soak for at least 1 hour prior to cooking)
1-package bean sprouts (I just buy the pre-portioned bags)
2 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
1 tofu cake, cut into small pieces
½ cup roasted peanuts
1 tsp ground red chili flakes
1 tbsp chopped onion or shallot
1 tbsp chopped garlic
½ cup cooking oil
1-cup dark greens (Chinese leek leaves are traditional but you can use spinach, bok choy, or another dark leafy green)
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp tamarind juice
Thanks to these stores, I’ve been able to recreate some of my favorite Asian dishes at home with authentic ingredients! I usually take a trip every few months to stock up on some staple items such as Jasmine rice, curry paste, coconut milk, Vietnamese coffee, Milo (malted chocolate milk drink), and fish sauce. I also buy vegetables there because bok choy and bean sprouts are much cheaper at these stores compared to a chain grocery.
These stores may seem far away if you don’t live in the South end of Louisville, but don’t let that stop you! Just hop on the Watterson Expressway and get off at Third Street and Southern Parkway. Go down third street for about 5 minutes and then you’re done!
Photos by Mary Margaret Sparks