ETHNIC SOURCES

Kent Rathbun, executive chef of dani foods (which manages Seventeen Seventeen at the Dallas Museum of Art) has built his reputation on the weird and wonderful. Rathbun is the official guide for the annual Ethnic Market Tour sponsored by the American Institute of Wine and Food, and he is constantly trolling the city, looking for new ideas as much as strange spices.

Some of his favorite finds:

Rathbun buys all his curries, bulk and whole spices, saffron, and mangoes from Taj Mahal in Richardson, where the secret is to shop on Saturdays so you can taste the wares of the man who cooks in the back of the store. “One of the things he makes is called bhel puri from rice that looks like puffed rice cereal,” says Rathbun. “It’s seasoned a little with curry and turmeric, then mixed with diced potatoes, garbanzos, and onions. He serves it with two chutneys, one a ripping hot green chili chutney and the other a sweet tamarind chutney with a scoop of raita.”

Rathbun’s a sushi nut, and dani makes its own sushi with supplies purchased from Kazy’s Gourmet Shop in North Dallas. Rathbun buys all dani’s soy from Kazy, as well as wasabi, sushi rice and vinegar, and equipment like sushi boxes and mats. (Not to mention lots of noodles.) He shops the Heip Thai Market on Walnut Street and Jupiter Road in Richardson for Thai curry pastes, coconut milk, fresh lemon grass, galangal ginger, and lots of noodles. (Rathbun uses kaffir lime leaves from the tree that’s growing in his office.) And he says the intersection of Walnut Street and Piano Road is as close to being in Chinatown as you can get in Dallas. Big racks of ribs and Peking ducks hang in store windows, and shop shelves are stocked with soy sauces, vinegars, hoi sin sauce. And all kinds of noodles.

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