Quessies for New Yorkers

Anyone know where I can buy preserved lemons (Morrocan style)? (Yes, I know I can get them online, but I like to shop in real life with actual people. I also know I could make ’em but I ain’t in the mood for sterilising jars.)

I’m also looking for Thai herbs like pak chii farang and pandanus leaf. And, yes, I’ve tried Chinatown. Couldn’t see ’em anywhere and no one knew what I was talking about.

And how about plain old chervil? (The places round here haven’t even heard of chervil. Is there some strange USian word for chervil I don’t know about? I googled and came up with chervil being chervil. So how come no one knows what it is?)

I’m in the East Village and am hoping not to have to travel too far to get these essentials.

In Sydney these are readily available so I’m cranky with NYC right now. I am hoping that they’re easy to find here too and it’s just that I don’t know where to find them. Otherwise I will start kicking NYC. Also pouting. Lots of pouting.


  1. Gabrielle on #

    Unfortunately, I have no earthly idea what any of those things are. And I live neither in Australia nor NYC. Can’t help you. Sorry. 😉

  2. janet on #

    Chervil is chervil. I don’t think I’ve ever used it, but I’ve seen the name in recipes.

    I don’t know NY, of course, so I can’t help you. I suggest you try these folks:


  3. May on #

    padanus leaf? do you mean ‘pandan leaf’?

    if all else fails, i suggest signing up and asking the good people at eGullet.

  4. Justine on #

    May: Pandanus leaf. The link you supply has it listed correctly first. The Thai name is bai toei horm. You can’t make proper coconut sticky rice and mango without it.

    I’m not ready to wade through forums yet. I can’t believe that I don’t have at least one reader who knows the answer to at least one of my quessies!

  5. josh on #

    First place I would try is Kalustyan’s, on Lex between 28th and 29th:


    They are worth a visit, period, but I also think they have a very good chance of having anything you need. Go. Enjoy. It’s really one of the coolest food spots in NYC.

    (The second place I’d try is Penzey’s, which has a stand in the Grand Central market, although I believe the original one is in Portland? Seattle? Somewhere out there. They are less with the obscure-to-Americans Asian spices, though, and they are all dried spices/herbs so no lemons.)

  6. Misha on #

    Kalyustan’s will definitely have your preserved lemons, and might have chervil. They’re on Lexington and 29th-ish.

  7. Justine on #

    Josh & Misha: Thanks! You (and Maureen who emailed me with the same suggestion) are my heroes! I knew NYCers would not fail me! Kalustyans has proper Moroccan preserved lemons.

    Also it is walking distance! Yay!

    Do they do fresh herbs as well?

  8. suzanne on #

    I’m not in NY, but I have some general ideas.

    For Thai herbs you should try the greenmarket and other farmers markets.

    Americans simply don’t cook with chervil, though you can probably find some fresh at a fancy gourmet foods store. Really I’d suggest just planting a pot of it in the kitchen.

    And as for preserved lemons, I’ve found cans of them at middle eastern groceries, but they’ve never been very good.

  9. Justine on #

    Suzanne: I’ve tried all the local farmers markets. They’ve never heard of any of the herbs I want.

  10. suzanne on #

    The original Penzey’s is in Milwaukee, btw.

  11. May on #

    there are a lot of good things that can be made with pandan leaf. don’t get the extract/essence unless you really can’t find it. for coconut sticky rice, i’d skip it rather than use the essence. if you travelled less, i’d suggest growing it–grows like a weed; my aunt complains about it, LOL.

    depending on where you are and what season it is, you should be able to find it, at least in the frozen foods section–or so i’ve been told by pals in the USA.

  12. Ava on #

    Wikipedia is usually a better source than Google. Try here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chervil and then ask for ‘gourmet’s parsley’. I’m laughing that one of the herbs has ‘farang’ in the title as that’s generally what Thai’s call non-Thais.

    Here’s what the westerners call pandanus leaf: Pandanus, Screwpine, Umbrella tree, Screw tree. Screw tree? I’m amused again.

    Good luck with your herbs hunting!

  13. Justine on #

    May & Ava: I know what pandanus leaf is. Back home I cook with it all the time.

    I just can’t find it or a whole bunch other Thai herbs here in NYC. Thai basil and Thai mint are about all I can find, which makes for pretty boring salads. I want all the yummy herbs!

    I’m starting to understand my Thai food is so awful here—you can’t get any of the necessary fresh ingredients.

    Where are you two? Malaysia? Singapore? You’re very lucky!

    Ava: screwpine? That’s weird. I’ve never heard any of those names before—only pandanus and bai toei horm.

  14. Dawn on #

    Yeah. No idea what any of those things are. Plus, I live in Kansas. I feel terribly…ignorant. I’m sorry I am no help whatsoever!

  15. janet on #

    I can understand your reluctance to dive into forums, but the Manhattan chowhound board is bound to be useful, and the chowhound boards are pretty easy to use. You should probably check them out anyway — if they’re anything like the Bay Area chowhounds, they’re extremely useful. Also, a hoot.

    In Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison suggests a mixture of parsley and fennel greens as a substitute for chervil. However, she doesn’t seem to think it’s a very good substitute.

  16. Justine on #

    Janet: That’s a interesting. I was going to use dill and parsley. Dill not being far off fennel. Great minds think alike, eh?

    She’s right though neither substitution is satisfying. Chervil is chervil. It’s such a delicate flavour. No where near as strong as either dill or fennel. Still, I quite like dill in it’s own right and beggars can’t be choosers.

  17. maureen on #

    If you do make sticky rice with mango, will you invite your friends?

  18. niki on #

    only if they send justine’s sister more books – I want more – they were excellent!!

  19. niki on #

    …I mean only if you write more books for justine to send to me 😀

  20. May on #

    I live south of Malaysia in Singapore. Leave a comment in this post (I subscribed) if you still can’t find it, and I’ll talk to my Contacts for you.

  21. shana on #

    oh – i know my friend ellen just bought a pot of chervil at the union square green market..

  22. Justine on #

    Shana: Alas growing it simply isn’t an option for me. I travel way to much to have plants or pets.

    The Union Square farmers market is where I was told at one of the stalls that chervil doesn’t exist and I must be thinking of something else.

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