Fascinating Reads : Asian Markets of Philadelphia

Today I would like to introduce you to a fascinating blog called Asian Markets of Philadelphia. Written by David Dettmann, it’s a treasure trove of articles about Asian food, with forays into whatever catches David’s interest at the moment. Since he’s a musician, scholar and  speaker of an impressive number of languages, his interests are wide ranging. Having found his blog a couple of years ago, I became a fan and I now follow David on Instagram and Twitter as well. Wherever he posts, he always sparks my curiosity and inspires new projects, from replicating Uyghur bread at home to planting Korean mint (also known as pinnä پىننە in Uyghur.)

If you are interested in food culture, you will find David’s articles as compelling as I did. He shares more than recipes; there is always an in-depth explanation about the dish’s origins and the context in which it is eaten. Besides providing his version of a particular preparation, he will often include several other sources. Not only does it help me learn more techniques, it is also a great way to discover other great blogs and YouTube channels. As for the blog’s name, it covers different food markets in the Philadelphia area, so if you’re based in PA, you have a terrific guide to the local shops.

Three of the biggest categories on David’s blog are Thai/Lao cuisine, Chinese food and Central Asian/Uyghur cooking, and when it comes to these topics, David knows a great deal. He also features helpful guides to ingredients, such as this green herb list. That list inspired my so-far-unsuccessful quest to find a copy of Saep Isaan [Delicious Isaan] แซบอีสาน by Ratri Gaewsaengtaam ราตรี แก้วแสงธรรม. (As a geek, I naturally gravitate to blogs that include bibliography references in their posts.)

Another must-read part of David’s blog is his Green Vegetable Guide, a resource page that will help you identify many greens and leafy vegetables you might find at your local Asian market.

While Asian Markets of Philadelphia has not been updated recently, it remains a much recommended page. Despite the number of books on Asian cuisine, nothing replaces such blogs for me.

Since David and I share a common interest in Dungan food, I would like to share my recipe for a Dungan-style Salad.

What are some of your favorite blogs (on any topic)? Please share in the comments. If you write a blog, please feel free to introduce it and explain how you started it.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

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8 Comments

  • Tamara: What an interesting page! I live in that area, so I’ll have to explore more of the local markets. Thank you for this recommendation, Victoria! June 16, 2023 at 11:00am Reply

    • Victoria: I’m so glad to hear this! Enjoy exploring. June 16, 2023 at 12:38pm Reply

  • Andy: I had a passing familiarity with David’s site through the Philadelphia area food scene, but hadn’t viewed it in a long time, so this was a great reminder of this great resource. I’ve only visited a fraction of all the markets he has logged in the Philadelphia area, but his descriptions and reviews of those he has visited are spot on! Makes me want to get out there and visit some new markets, too.

    I too love reading about his ambitious experiments, like trying to replicate those clay oven baked breads at home. The traditional technique reminded me a bit of Samarkand bread, which is the closest thing I was familiar with.

    And I learned something new—the best Turkish markets in the area are, as it turns out, not in Philadelphia but here on the other side of the Delaware in NJ. June 16, 2023 at 1:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: I wish I knew of David’s site when I still lived in Philadelphia. It’s incredible how much you can find in the city, not to mention the whole area. But I immediately recognized NetCost and Petrovsky Market and I could just recall what they were like from his descriptions. Have you been to that area? Those markets have some interesting products, like Georgian spices and black bird cherry flour. You might enjoy experimenting with them. June 16, 2023 at 2:08pm Reply

  • Allison: I’ve subscribed to David’s blog and instagram. He has so many amazing posts for those of us learning to cook Asian food. I hope that he continues to update his blog more. June 16, 2023 at 2:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: I hope so too! It’s a great resource. June 16, 2023 at 2:25pm Reply

  • Mziani: Not a blog recommendation but in the same vein: Linda Bladholm wrote three books as guides for different food markets – called The Indian Grocery Store Demystified, The Asian Grocery Store Demystified and The Latin & Caribbean Grocery Store Demystified. They came out before the proliferation of internet blogs etc but still relevant with great explanations of different ingredients as well as brand recommendations. They have some recipes at the back of the books and the garam masala recipe in the Indian book is one of the most well balanced and flavorful formulas I’ve tried ( though I’ve modified it to my taste, as well, lol). June 23, 2023 at 4:45am Reply

  • Joe: Interesting to see this post here. I’m only a very occasional reader, however, less than a week before you posted this, I had stumbled upon the Asian Markets blog while looking for information about Uyghur cuisine. This was just after my very first visit to Flushing, Queens, and a Chinese food court with an Uyghur stall offering many tempting delights. The entire visit was a wondrous culinary experience.

    I happen to live in New Jersey only about 30 minutes from central Philadelphia, but slightly closer to a northern suburb with many Uzbek and Georgian restaurants that I hope to explore. Thanks to you, I’ll now be following David’s Instagram page even though he may not post often.

    Thanks for this enjoyable and timely entry. July 2, 2023 at 8:58pm Reply

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