My 6 Favourite Things To Buy At Whole Foods
Last year for an issue of Waitrose Weekend I was asked what my favourite Waitrose Essentials items were. That, and that I’m an avid reader of The Kitchn where they do this sort of thing all the time, has inspired me to do a mini-series sharing some of my favourite grocery store items in my home kitchen. Today, I thought I’d start with Whole Foods. I was so excited when Whole Foods came to the UK, and even more excited to move to Fulham where I’ve got a big one near the tube station. I first fell in love with Whole Foods living in Los Angeles, and while it is still stupidly expensive to do your whole shop there in London, it is still one of my favourite places to go for ‘specialist’ ingredients I’d otherwise have to turn to the internet or hard to find specialist stores to source.
I tend to buy pre-packaged fish rather than stuff off the fish counter, mainly because I know if I use standard sizes it will make it easier for people to follow my recipes. However, the one thing I am adamant about getting from a fish counter is fish I intent to consume raw so I can have a discussion about what I’m buying with the fishmonger. We’ve got a local independent in Fulham, and while I’m usually big on shopping small, in my job I have to plan meals ahead, and the Whole Foods counter is big enough that it is not much of a risk to assume something will be in stock. Also, if you ask nicely they’ll remove the skin, and slice your fish into sashimi for you!
Recipes to try: How To Make An Easy Salmon Poke Bowl
When I lived in Kent I used to buy kimchee from the Asian supermarket, but in need of kimchee for a recipe when I first moved to Fulham I grabbed a jar of Kim Kong’s naturally vegan kimchee. While at first I was taken aback because the flavour was something a little different to what I was used to and there are bits of carrot in there, I’ve come to appreciate the fresh, all natural fermented funk as having a better flavour, as being closer to what traditional kimchee is actually like, and as being so much better for me, you know, because it’s made in London and does not need any additives to keep it happy on the trip from Korea. Also, the jars wash up well to re-use.
Cool Chile Company Blue Corn & White Corn Tortillas
Whole Foods is hands down my favourite place to buy Mexican ingredients. They have basically all the dried chillies you could possibly need, authentic pastes, sauces, dried hibiscus, and canned green tomatillos, though they sometimes also have fresh imported from Mexico in the front of the store. However, the one Mexican ingredient I buy the most from Whole Foods are authentic, fresh corn tortillas. Once heated up in a frying pan until they’re slightly puffy and blistered, they’re the flavour that is missing making your DIY tacos not quite authentic when you’re using supermarket tortillas.
Recipes to try: Cajun Prawn Tacos with Barbecue Corn & Avocado Salsa
Yes, I know you can get St Ivel buttermilk in most supermarkets and Sainsbury’s have recently started doing one with a lid, but can you please tell me that – unless you’re using a British recipe designed to use the whole 284ml, impossible to re-seal tub – you never have sometimes a whole load of buttermilk leftover that quickly goes bad in the fridge? This is why I buy my buttermilk from Whole Foods, because it comes in a carton with a screw top lid.
Recipes to try: Skinny Buttermilk Ranch & Crispy Bacon Wedge Salads, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado Chopped Salad with Homemade Skinny Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, Tomato & Cornbread Crumble, Valentines Waffles with Rose Syrup Strawberries & Crème Fraîche
Mighty Bee Dark Chocolate Dipped Bananito Solar Dried Banana Bars
While healthy snacking to me is a piece of fruit, or a homemade treat like a cookie or a piece of cake, on the days where I have not got around to making anything I keep a stash of these whole, dried bananas coated in dark chocolate to hand. They’re stupidly delicious and a real energy boost – they’re also available from Ocado.
It’s not as impressive as the Mexican selection, but if you’re into Asian ingredients from the healthier side of the spectrum – particularly Japanese ingredients – Whole Foods has also pretty much got you covered. Furikake is basically a Japanese seasoning made from toasted white and black sesame seeds, chopped dried seaweed and/ or shisho leaf, sugar and salt, usually designed to be sprinkled over rice and fish. I use it as an essential element in my poke marinade, and sprinkled over any dinner where a sprinkle of sesame seeds would usually be called for.