Sunday, April 7, 2013

For Japanese cabbage rolls, you're asked to use your imagination

Farm-raised blue-fin tuna sashimi is $49.99 a pound at Mitsuwa Martketplace in Edgewater. Eggs from caged fish are used to raise the tuna without hormones, according to European media. Wild blue-fin tuna are over-fished and endangered, principally to satisfy the demand from Japan and other countries. Blue-fin tuna also contain high levels of harmful mercury, and consumers should consider such alternatives as yellow-fin tuna, albacore or wahoo.


The sales flier from Mitsuwa Marketplace that came in the mail showed appetizing cabbage rolls and, when I looked closer, I saw "meat substitute" as a suggested stuffing -- perfect for a non-meat eater like me.

I once saw stuffed cabbage offered as a lunch special at Hiura, a family owned Japanese restaurant in Fort Lee, and always wondered if the dish was adapted from another cuisine.

So, I set off for the big Japanese supermarket in Edgewater, only to be told no cabbage rolls were being offered, just cabbage at 99 cents a pound.

"You are supposed to imagine them," the woman at Mitsuwa's customer service counter said when I showed her the cabbage rolls on the flier.

Asian cabbage is on sale for 99 cents at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, but you won't find any cabbage rolls, despite the photo on the sales flier.
Farmed blue-fin tuna

I went over to the fish department and looked over farmed blue-fin tuna sashimi and other raw fish, then walked to another part of the store to check out sushi rolls.

I am boycotting blue-fin tuna, but all that fish made me hungry.

Omusubi Gonbei, one of the food stands at Mitsuwa Marketplace, is "cash only," a policy you'll find at most of the other stands. Ramen and full meals also are available at Mitsuwa Marketplace. A stand-alone Japanese restaurant is undergoing renovation.

My two rice balls were made with the palest brown rice I have ever seen.

One of the many plastic models in Mitsuwa's food court.

Rice balls

I snacked on two omusubi or rice balls wrapped in dried seaweed from Omusubi Gonbei, one of the stands in the food court, where tables afforded a terrific view of the Hudson River and Manhattan through dirty plate-glass windows.

One rice ball had spicy pollock roe, and another was stuffed with mustard greens ($2 and $2.20). I asked for them to be made with brown rice.

Raw, wild-caught blue mackerel from Norway was $3.99 for a fillet of one-third or one-half of a pound. Are you supposed to eat the skin, and if not, how do you separate it from the flesh, or are the fillets meant to be cooked?

Seafood rolls include fish eggs.

$1.99 each

I watched Japanese customers filling their baskets or carts with cheap-looking, plastic or metal kitchen items that were on sale for $1.99 each, and wondered what they were thinking.

One young woman put down her hand-held basket, which was brimming with such "convenience" items -- called zakka -- walked outside and returned with a grocery cart.

I stopped for a cup of coffee at a small restaurant just inside the store entrance that offers a Wagyu steak dinner for $24.

Then, I saw a Panasonic store, and decided my old Panasonic 10-cup rice cooker needed a break after at least 15 years of reliable service.

I bought a new one and filled out the order online.

The saleswoman said it would be shipped to me free within a few business days.

Mitsuwa Marketplace, 595 River Road, Edgewater; 201-941-9113. For more information, click on the following link:  Open 365 days a year   

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