When I was living in the US, I looooved grocery shopping. Obviously being in Texas that meant driving over to HEB and finding every food item you could imagine under one roof and making occasional weekend trips to the Houston farmer’s market.
Nowadays my shopping routine has definitely changed and while I often gripe about having to go to multiple stores or markets to find the ingredients for one recipe I still love shopping for groceries– especially at the wet market.
Wet Markets in Asia
The wet markets in Asia are a whole different sensory experience than outdoor markets in the US or in Europe. You’re sure find live fish swirling around in shallow tubs of water (probably a large contributor to the ‘wet’ aspect of the wet market) and ambiguous cuts of raw meat hanging in stalls, but you’ll also find piles of local vegetables, aromatic spice bins, and colorful, ripe fruits.
Don’t let this overwhelm you. While it’s probably a far cry from traditional food handling standards in the western world, this is where locals shop for meat, fish and produce on a daily basis. It’s amazing to see the variety of things for sale in different markets and I always find myself wondering– What is this, what does this taste like, what can I make with this?
Most markets welcome photos so take plenty and use the reverse Google image search later to identify things you find.
This is much easier than what I often end up doing which is searching for things like “Vietnamese fruit that looks like a claw” or “fruit that looks like a pear but waxy and red” (spoiler: those two are called Buddha’s claw and wax jambu)… Although I’ve had surprising luck with this method as well.
Hanoi Wet Market
I love the wet markets in Vietnam especially, because not only will you find fresh ingredients if you wanted to cook meals at home, but you’ll also find multiple casual food stalls nearby who are doing all the cooking for you.
Dong Xuan Market
Dong Xuan and Hang Chieu Streets
Since Peter and I were just traveling through the wet market outside the giant Dong Xuan Market before heading to the train station, I opted to pick up fruits for the train ride and some dried spices to take home with me to Hong Kong.
I definitely recommend stopping by the wet market when you’re traveling in any Asian city. And afterwards please come back here and let me know what you find!