The Friday mystery box

Posted by on Nov 22, 2013 in life, shanghai | 18 comments

Do you ever go food shopping with a vague idea of what you want and come home with way too much and wonder what you’re going to do with it?

This was me this morning at the Avocado Lady. I went for cashew nuts, got distracted by bamboo shoots. And the kale behind.

Avocado lady jamjnr.com

Made a bee line for the wine. Where I saw the figs. Went around to pay and saw the parsnips and thought “parsnip soup”. As you do. So grabbed a couple of apples. Parsnip & apple soup?

When I saw the onions I thought about two dirty old trunks I bought at the antique flea market last week which still smell mothbally even after spraying with vodka (what a waste) and dousing in baking powder. I read last night that an onion cut in half and placed in a bowl of water overnight will absorb the smell. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

And then the lovely Avocado Lady being the psychic that she is told me she had duck in the freezer from her family farm and you know what – duck’s exactly what I had in mind to buy.


Last time she had something in the freezer from the farm I came home with this:

Avocado lady jamjnr.com Rich got a call along the lines of ‘if you want roast chicken on Sunday you need to decapitate the carcass in the freezer. And a manicure wouldn’t go amiss either.”

Avocado lady jamjnr.com And now I have 2 duck breasts and 2 duck legs, each one costing 6 RMB – about a dollar each. Cheap as…..ducks in China.

Only trouble is I don’t cook duck at home. It was nigh on impossible to buy in Tokyo and never crossed my mind in Melbourne. Don’t get me wrong, I like duck but now I’m wondering what the heck to do with my stash. Tagine? Pan fry? Stir fry?

Any ideas?




  1. Hi! Do you remember how much the parsnips cost? I’m looking to buy some for Christmas dinner, and Fields sells them 2 for 40rmb. Ouch! Need to figure out if it’s worth the taxi fare to get to avocado lady.

    • Hmmmm….I think they are actually quite expensive. Maybe 55RMB for the 3 parsnips? They were huge ones though and sometimes I just suck it up if I really want something. I have to admit I asked the price after I bought them. At least with the Avocado Lady you get to pick them out yourself. The duck marylands were super cheap though – 6RMB each. It all averages itself out in the end….

  2. I always shop with a list because if I don’t, something shiny catches my eye and we end up having baked beans on witlof and nobody is impressed. Having to chop the head off would be off-putting for me. I’m glad Rich came to your rescue.
    Maureen | Orgasmic Chef recently posted…Crepes with Apples and Maple SyrupMy Profile

    • I’m easily distracted I have to admit – even when I have a shopping list. This time I got home, looked at everything and just wondered how it happened.

  3. Ooh you can try Kylie Kwong’s duck with plums. It’s delicious! I don’t cook duck much at home admittedly :)

  4. The price of food in China is so incredibly cheap. You do wonder why we have to pay so much here. But certainly when we buy frozen animals they don’t appear like that! I’m not sure I’d know where to start! I have a few duck recipes on my blog if that’s a help xx
    Hotly Spiced recently posted…Rudolph’s Christmas, MosmanMy Profile

    • Buying locally is cheap here and it’s so seasonal too. If you wait 2 weeks to buy something it’s gone and the new flavour of the month is in. I love it. Yes the chicken was a bit off-putting so I left the be-heading to Rich to sort out!!!

  5. How fun! I love it when I shop like this. Impractical, sure, but exciting all the same! Roast duck pho is my favourite type of pho, and roasting the duck then removing the skin and then shredding the meat through the soup might help you keep the fat content down? And that chicken. Goodness!!
    Jas@AbsolutelyJas recently posted…Matcha MayhemMy Profile

    • What I neglected to mention is that Rich has been away all week and isn’t back until today so there was no need for me to buy any food at all apart from cashews and wine….Roast duck pho sounds good especially for a Sunday night.

  6. That is me every time I go to the grocery store or market! Glad to hear that I am not the only one, Nancy. As for dealing with your duck, may I suggest duck confit for the legs/thighs and grill pan cooking for the breasts?
    and http://www.foodlustpeoplelove.com/2011/08/quick-easy-supper-we-love.html The photos suck, especially on the second one, but you get the idea.
    Stacy recently posted…Buttermilk Roast Chicken Breasts for #RandomRecipeChallengeMy Profile

    • Glad it’s not only me. Trouble is I was totally unprepared and had to walk home with the bags. Hmmmm on the confit – Rich has double figure cholesterol so I shy away from anything confit-ed. Which makes me buying the duck even more ridiculous when I think about it!!!

      • Yeah, okay. Confit is out. How about cutting the fat off and using the breast in a stir-fry? You could make a curry with the legs and thighs. It will be lovely and rich and if you make it the day before you want to eat it, pop it in the refrigerator and remove the fat that rises to the top and solidifies before reheating.

        What you need is an old-lady cart! I have one I use when I am on Jersey, in the Channel Islands. Embarrasses my girls but it makes me very happy to toddle along with my shopping.
        Stacy recently posted…Buttermilk Roast Chicken Breasts for #RandomRecipeChallengeMy Profile

        • I’m liking the idea of a curry especially Thai that’s one of Richard’s favourite. Shoulda thought of that one myself!!!!

  7. love the mystery box… I find its what results in new and interesting meals in my kitchen. For the duck, I’d be going spices… and lots of them asian style, I’d then poach and then roast to maximise the flavour! Good luck, can’t wait to see what you create. Leah

    • I was thinking along the same lines. I did check out Jane G but didn’t fancy the duck & mint or duck with apricots. That’s my Sunday afternoon planned then!

  8. I have to admit I am kind’of laughing at this ‘quandary’ ~ how delightful and I do wish I could buy duck at even twice that price here in Oz :) ! I am NO good at giving proper link directions, but you just have to Google the ‘Chica Andaluza’ blog [Tanya is a lovely and popular British expat, well sort'of - she's in England at the moment, usually living guess where?] . . . she just ‘taught’ us all how to make perfect baked duck AND served it with fun Asian style noodles, would yoou believe!!!

    • Eha, you are a star thank you. I’ve never seen that blog before and just spent a while going through it. And yes, the duck is ridiculously cheap.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge