Posts Tagged ‘Taiwanese Cuisine

14
Jun
13

A quick update and Happy Duanwu Day!

Hi friends,

I’ve had some personal things happen in my life the last couple of months that have been inspiring, trying, and eye opening.  Within a short couple of months, I’ve had experiences and challenges that I have only had to deal with, if ever, once or twice in 30 years.  All of these events have been hard as a friend, sibling, and loved one but nothing compares to what each person who is experiencing the event is going through.  I’m in awe of their courage.  However, this is not the reason for this post.  

It’s the year of the snake.  A year that allows for shedding of old skin and becoming a stronger self.  From these events I’ve been able to reach out to family members and friends for advice, laughter, and company.  So, although I’ve been missing from the blog the past couple of months, I’ve not forgotten it.  As part of my moving forward, shedding all the old skin, and coming into my new self I’m re-doing my blog.  I’ve had the same blog design for the last four years, and it makes sense to change the design as part of the year of the snake.  This transition isn’t going to be instant.  But I hope, by August 1st, the first day of my 30’s, that you will be looking at a newly designed blog.  

Also, it was Duanwu Festival, or Dragon Boat Festival yesterday.  So in honor of that, I’m pulling up an old post about Zong Zi, or Taiwanese Sticky Rice Dumplings, from a year ago.  It’s important to note, this was definitely a video of firsts:  First time I did a video post.  First time I made this dish.  First time I edited a video.  First time I filmed a video.  So, lot’s of firsts.  But, in my defense it was a year ago, and I feel like I’ve improved.  As you can see, it takes a long time to prepare everything and put it together, so if you decide to just buy it, that is ok, I won’t judge.

端午節快樂!

~slu

1 of few that made the cut.

1 of few that made the cut.

 

~stuff

10 cups Sticky Rice, uncooked and soaking for 3 hours

1 cup dried salted shrimp, rehydrated

2 cups whole dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated

1 cup raw peanuts

2 cups of water

4 star anise pods

1 tbs salt

1.5 lb pork belly, cubed into 1 inch pieces

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup rice wine

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 large cloves garlic, peeled

35 bamboo leaves, soaking for 3 hours

~steps

Boiled Peanuts

~place peanuts, water, star anise, and salt in a small saucepan and boil on high heat until peanuts are soft, 15 minutes

Braised Pork

~places garlic, brown sugar, rice wine, soy sauce, and pork belly in a large dutch oven and turn on low heat

~braise pork until fork tender, about 3 hours (can be done ahead of time)

Cooking the Zong Zi

~simmer 3 cups of water in a large pot on medium low heat

~place zong zi in pot until just covered by water (use the string to hold it up so they don’t float around)

~simmer for about 45 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked

-makes 15-20-

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16
Jan
13

Day 14: Taiwanese Braised Pork Belly with Pickled Vegetables

Yes, I will always eat pork belly.

Yes, I will always eat pork belly.

There are certain ingredients that I will always equate to Taiwanese food.  They are ingredients that make up dishes that bring me back to my childhood and remind me of a time when I was innocent, eager, and always ready for culinary adventures.  And that’s one of the main reasons that i started this blog, to share with you the moments when I fell in love with certain dishes.  These ingredients are sticky rice, preserved vegetables, the Taiwanese braising combination, and pork belly (or any gelatinous dish).  The moment any of these things touch my mouth or the smell of them cooking fills the air, I’m reminded of when I was younger when I was full of energy, excitement, and culinary adventure.
I had to get some help when purchasing the ingredients for this dish though.  Also, it’s gone through a few different attempts before I finally figured out the right recipe for it.  The key item in this dish is not the pork belly.  Although, the pork belly is the star in my books with it’s beautiful unctuous texture and rich flavor.  Before I salivate all over my keyboard, let’s get back to the point: the key ingredient to this dish is Mei Gan Cai.  It is preserved mustard greens that are made by drying, salting, squeezing, steaming, and fermenting the greens and stalks.  The long process gives the pickled vegetables a delicious earthy flavor with a subtle sweetness to round out the salty flavor that comes from it.  You can usually find this at larger Chinese supermarkets.  But make sure you bring a picture of the product or the characters when you go shopping.  It will help, I promise.
Here are the things I learned while working on this dish:
1) bring a friend who can read Chinese to the market with you.  I thought I would be able to go by sight when picking out the vegetables for this dish, but I’ve actually never bought it in it’s raw form before.  Luckily, I had a friend with me who reads Chinese so she was able to pick it out for me.
2) wash the vegetables and soak them multiple times before you cook it.  The first time I cooked this dish, I treated the pickled vegetables like the dried turnips or zha cai and just washed it once.  That with the soy sauce in the liquid made it unbearably salty.  The second time I made it, I washed the vegetables four or five times and then soaked it in hot water for around 45 minutes to release the salt from the vegetables.  With a final rinse before cooking, you will finally be set to cook the dish.
3) cut the pork belly into 1 inch cubes if you are in a hurry.  And when I mean hurry, I mean like you need to have dinner ready in 3 or 4 hours from start of braise time as opposed to 6 to 8 hours for a whole piece of bork belly.
4) don’t be afraid of sugar in this dish.  If you think about it, your putting in soy sauce, preserved vegetables, and rice wine which all contain a high amount of salt.  Of course you are going to need a lot of sugar to help balance that out.
~stuff
2 lb pork belly, sliced in 1 in chunks if you want
1 tsp oil, canola, vegetable, or peanut
2 c mei gan cai, rinsed, soaked, and chopped
5 slice of ginger
2 medium scallion, minced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 c soy sauce
3/4 c sugar
1/2 c rice wine
1 c water
~steps
sear pork belly in a large pot or dutch oven on high with oil
add preserved vegetable, ginger, scallion, and garlic and stir until fragrant
pour the rest of the ingredients in the pot and stir
braise on low heat until pork belly is completely tender, about 4 hours
-serves 4-
11
Oct
11

Taiwanese Braised Pig’s Feet

Whatever you want to call it. “Pig Feet” or “Trotters”, either way it’s awesome!

I’ve been in survival/no waste mode. Well, at least that’s what it seems like from my last four or five posts. Liver, lard, free seafood, and now the front (or back) feet of a pig; my blog is turning into an “I like ‘strange’ things/Foodie” or an “I am resourceful” blog. Today, I spend eight dollars on eight pounds of goodness.

My brother and I grew up on pig’s feet or as foodies like to call it: trotters. It was one of the many dishes that my mom knew that we thoroughly enjoyed and would put in her arsenal of dishes to cook to coax us home. She has been cooking this dish for years. I remember when she would cook this when I was young. It would be a Saturday or a Sunday and the whole house would fill up with the amazing aroma of pork, star anise, and soy sauce. As the day went on, the air in house would change as the stages of the cooking progressed. In the beginning of the day, you would get the aroma of rice wine as it steams in the air, then comes the savory smell of pork, finally you get the spice of licorice from the anise and then the nuttiness of soy sauce and caramelizing sugar. It immediately took me back to Taiwan and the smells of traditional cooking. It took me to dishes that never changed with fads, exotic ingredients, or Western impressions. It was how dishes where enjoyed by my parents, their parents, and their parents and how they have always stimulated the senses for generations.

I’ve been missing Taiwan a lot lately. Last November I had the amazing opportunity to go back to Taiwan for a few weeks. Since then I have dreamed of going back, more importantly dreamed of hosting a travel show highlighting the food of the island and the people who make and produce them. One of my favorite things to do in Taiwan is to eat the food and really see what it means for people to love cooking and be proud of the ingredients and the dishes from Taiwan. This is totally one of the dishes that I would highlight. Not only is it very Taiwanese, it’s completely simple in flavor, much like the islands philosophy on cooking.

I always thought, until now, that there was a bunch of ingredients in this dish. It seemed so complicated with all the flavors that fill my mouth, but turns out that it is super simple. Who knew that all you needed was pork, soy sauce, star anise, and sugar. My mom figured out that if you steam the feet half way through, you can get most of the grease out of the dish. I steamed it with rice wine, per my momma’s instruction. This way you get the wine to really permeate through the pork early on in the cooking process and give it a subtle flavor note that helps complicate a simple flavor profile. Plus it helps bring out the pork amazingly.

If you want true flavors or Taiwan as well as the real philosophy behind Taiwanese food, this is it. Enjoy, especially with rice.

~stuff

8 lb pig feet, chopped into pieces (ask your butcher…unless you want to lose a finger)

1/2 cup cooking rice wine or dry sherry

3 cups of water

2 cups of soy sauce soy sauce

8 pods of star anise

3 dried salted plums (optional)

1/4 cup of brown sugar

~steps

steam pig feet with ¼ cup rice wine and 1 cup of water in a steamer for 30 to 45 minutes

remove excess grease, if necessary (this is depending on what kind of steamer you use.  I used a steamer that allowed it to drip into the water)

place pig feet in a large pot and add remaining ingredients except for sugar and turn on low, stirring often, for at least 3 hours

add sugar to the pot and stir on medium high temperature 30 minutes before serving to allow the sugar to caramelize

-serves 6-




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