Paik Produce: An Asian Food Oasis

Eastern Market Secrets

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Ju Young Jung, the owner of Capitol Hill Produce. Photo: Andrew Lightman

Walk through Eastern Market’s southeast entrance and you will stumble upon Paik Produce, a South Hall stand that specializes in produce and Asian and international groceries.

Paik Produce is owned by Ju Young Jung, who goes by “Joanne,” a woman with a wide smile and jet-black hair. Together with her son, Joanne has been running the stand for twelve years. If a recipe calls for a hard-to-find ingredient, chances are you will find it at Paik Produce.

The coolers and shelves are filled with rare and interesting produce. Discover the joys of canned lychee, bamboo shoots and house-made kimchi. Don’t miss to-go containers of freshly made Bibimbap and seaweed salad. Pick up a can of coconut milk, fresh kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. The coconut milk, Joanne explains, can be used for curries. Kaffir lime leaves are used as a garnish, chopped and tossed in rice, or to infuse broths, soups and marinades.

Want to make lo mein? Stop by Joanne’s and pick up a package of refrigerated high-quality egg noodles. Want to dazzle your housemate? Try cooking Korean BBQ. Joanne sells pre-marinated beef bulgogi. Serve it with rice and the fresh vegetables purchased from her stand.

While Paik Produce is predominantly Asian, it also carries a hodgepodge of the American staples such as Jiffy’s peanut butter and Stubb’s barbecue sauce. Packages of dried beans and lentils line the store’s shelving along with couscous, Asian sweet rice, Korean and Japanese noodles.

Joanne cooks her own fresh meat and vegetarian dumplings daily. She serves them with her own special dipping sauce and pickled daikon. Don’t miss her equally delicious spring rolls and chicken soup.

Joanne wouldn’t reveal her recipe, understandably (She might, if you ask her.) However, she did reveal the dish’s ingredients and a loose guide on how to make them:

  • Start with ground pork, chicken (tofu if vegetarian) in a large bowl;
  • Add minced garlic;
  • Mix with finely cut onion, carrots and green squash;
  • Season with salt and pepper;
  • Let the mixture marinate for at least half an hour;
  • Enclose the mixture in dumpling wrappers found at Joanne’s stand;
  • Steam until cooked through, 15-20 minutes.

Serve hot!