I always mention lime leaves when I talk about some of the expensive ingredients we use at True Thai, but I don't think I've ever talked about our second-most expensive ingredient: Shiitake mushrooms.
As of this morning, dried Shiitake mushrooms are selling for $8 a pound wholesale in the Twin Cities. Thai eggplant might go for more than that at the moment, but only if you can find them (we can't). Baby Indian eggplant is a good substitute, but purple eggplant doesn't look the same as crunchy green Thai eggplants.
The good news is that thanks to all the Thai and SE Asian restaurants, it's easier than ever to buy hard-to-find ingredients here in Minnesota. And good oranges are finally back. Not just big Florida oranges — blood oranges are in season right now. Expensive, but if you buy them by the case (Seward Coop is our connection) you don't have to pay a dollar apiece for them.