Category Archives: Taiwanese Food

High Stock (高湯)

Stir fry Rice Noodles (Bee Hoon) tasted especially delicious tonight. The reason is I used “high stock” to cook it.

“High Stock” is a direct translation from Mandarin language. To make “high stock”, start with fresh bones. Cook the bones with enough water to cover the bones, a couple slices of ginger and a little cooking wine. Once the water boils, turn it to low and cook it for a whole day. I use my electric slow cooker for cooking bones.

After a whole day of slow cooking, the bones will become soft and all the minerals will go into the soup.

At this time, soup is carefully drawn from the pot and passed through a filter to ensure its purity, and then is put through the process of skimming all visible fats from its surface.

Fat can be easily removed if the temperature of the soup goes down below a certain level. There is a threshold where fat can be easily removed from the soup and that threshold is hard to describe in writing. You can experiment it yourself by checking up on your cooled stock. Once you notice a fatty solid substance floating on top of your soup and your soup is still in liquid form, it is time to skim the fat.

If your stock turns into jelly-like substance, you know you have made “High Stock”.

Stir-fry Rice Noodles (米粉)

My friends love my Rice Noodles. I have revealed the first secret, and that is using “High Stock”.

My second secret lies in the type of dry Rice Noodles that I use, and that is the Hsin Chu brand. Hsin Chu is a city in Taiwan and they are famous for their Rice Noodles. I like this brand because if I soak it a little too long, it doesn’t break or melt. Also, this brand of Rice Noodles has a yellow tint to it which I think is healthier to our body because little or no bleach is used while making it. Detailed recipe is posted Taiwanese Food Page.

 

Often, I make this delicious soup in bulk and freeze it in separate containers. If there is a dish that calls for High Stock, I pull one container out from the freezer and use it for my dish.

One such dish is Bah Kut Teh. My Mom said Grandpa‘s secret to his famous Bah Kut Teh was a good “High Stock”.

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Oyster Omelet (蚵仔煎)

This is my husband’s favorite dish.

The first time I ate oyster, I could not understand, why would a person enjoy eating a soft, mushy, and sea smelling thing? Why would someone consider oyster as priced food? Certainly, eating oysters is an acquired taste.

I was reading about oyster on wikipedia and found out this interesting fact. There is no way of determining male oysters from females by examining their shells. While oysters have separate sexes, they may change sex one or more times during their life span.

Fresh oysters must be alive just before consumption. A simple rule: oysters must be tightly closed; oysters that are already open are dead and must be discarded. To confirm if an open oyster is dead, tap the shell. A live oyster will close and is safe to eat. Dead oysters can also be closed, but will make a distinct noise when tapped.

Enough introduction on oysters. Let me talk about Oyster Omelet, Oh-Ah-Chian 蚵仔煎. In Fujian or Hokkein language, Oh-Ah means oyster. Since this dish originated in Fujian, China, it is also popular in places with Fujian’s influences such as in Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan (where it is often sold in night markets).

In the US, Oyster Omelet can be found in very authentic Taiwanese restaurants. This dish has 4 major ingredients, oyster, powdered sweet potato starch, eggs and greens, topped with a little sweet chili sauce.

When my husband walked through the door tonight, he was immediately filled with excitement because he smelled something familiar. Throughout the dinner, he kept telling me how delicious it was. In the end, with a sigh, he said, I shouldn’t eat this last piece of oyster. I admit that this dish is full of cholesterol from the eggs as well as from the oyster, so I told him that I am not going to make this dish anymore, at least for a long time. He immediately gobbled up the last bite!


The following recipe is adapted from Passionate Eater.

Ingredients:
10 oz jar of refrigerated shucked oysters, drained
1/4 cup powdered sweet potato starch
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp sweet chili sauce as shown in the photo grid (or substitute 1 tbsp of sriracha mixed with 1 tbsp of ketchup)
3 large eggs, scrambled
1 tbsp of vegetable oil (divided)
1 cup of cooked garland chrysanthemum greens (Dang Oh), stir-fried with 2 cloves of chopped garlic (can substitute mustard greens or spinach for the chrysanthemum greens)

Method:

Combine the sweet potato starch, water, and oysters until thoroughly blended.

Swirl the scrambled egg mixture into the heated pan. Since I use a nonstick pan, I did not add any oil to the pan. Being careful not to break the egg omelet, heat it until it begins to set.

Pour the starch batter with oyster on top of the omelet. Cover with a lid, allow it to cook until it begins to turn translucent. Add the cooked greens. Flip the sweet potato starch pancake and cook until it becomes translucent throughout. The pancake should have a gluey texture, almost like mochi. Now, take the cooked pancake off the heat.

Spread the hot sauce on the surface of the scrambled omelet, and enjoy!

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Roast Pork (Char Siu)

I have a very good friend from Beijing China who is a great cook. Watching her cook in the kitchen is like watching a ballerina gracefully performing a dance.

One important lesson that I learned from her was using the right kind of meat to make Char Siu, and that is to use the Pork Shoulder Butt cut.

If you live in Portland, Costco Warehouse sells this type of cut in the meat department. I usually buy in bulk, roast the marinated pork and make different dishes with this meat. Sometimes, I would distribute the roast pork to my neighbors and friends or vacuum seal it for future use.

Recipe
Use a plastic bag to marinate your strips of pork overnight with the following:
3 tbsp of sugar
1 1/2 tbsp of wine
1 1/2 tbsp of oyster sauce

This recipe is for 2 to 3 lbs of meat. If you have more meat, adjust the amount of marinade. Bake the meat in a preheated oven with 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes. The following are before and after photos. Additionally, you can dip the cooked strips of pork into (1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp dark soy sauce, 1 tbsp honey) glaze and grill it for a short while to give the pork a shine. Glazing recipe is from Auntie Lily. Traditionally, char siu were dipped in red food coloring. I prefer to omit the coloring.

Here are some ideas to make different meals out of these 6 strips of meat.

Sliced Roast Pork with Saffron Rice.

 

Siew Pao (Baked Roast Pork Bun) 燒包

Char Siu Pao 燒包

Other dishes that uses roast pork include Wonton Mein and Char Siu Fried Rice. I have posted an article on Wonton Mein recipe but the photo does not look as delicious as WMW‘s Wonton Mein photo. I took that photo before WMW told me about the “best shot” option on my camera.

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Presentation Matters

Both of the following two dishes contain the same ingredients, with the exception of cilantro in the second photo. However, the first photo looks more appetizing.

Why is that?

I thought I share a few tips on how to best present the food that you spent hours preparing.

Tip 1: Use an attractive dish to display your food. Jaden of Steamy Kitchen is great at “dressing” her dishes. Tonight, I scoured around my kitchen looking for a platter or dish to display dinner. Finally, I used earthenware’s lid. Yes you read right, I turned the lid upside down and used it as a bowl to hold the food.

Tip 2: Always try to use a garnish to tie back to your dish. This is a tip that I learned from an article written by L from Still Life With. Since the dish I made tonight was slow cooked with shallots, I garnished with a few slices of fried shallots.

Tip 3: Put condiments in a smaller container and display that with the dish. Sliced colorful chilies in a small clear bowl stand beautifully on a pair of chopsticks, a trick I learned from Rasa Malaysia’s article on Penang Char Hor Fun.

Tip 4: Use a clear platter or dish to display your food art. In the following photo, the platter had Asian prints all around and it became a competition with the food itself for attention.

 

The recipe is as follows:
Taiwanese Ground Pork with garlic and shallots
(reference: http://www.recipezaar.com/95047)

Ingredients:
1 lb ground pork
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons minced garlic
1 (3 ounce) package fried shallots (can be found at any Oriental grocery store)
2 cups water
1/3-1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon msg (optional)
steam rice

Method:
Brown pork in skillet until cooked; drain off oil and set aside.
Add vegetable oil in a pot over medium-high heat.
Saute garlic for 1 minute.
Add pork and shallots, stir a few times.
Add water and the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil.
(Lee Ping’s note: I added a couple of chopped shitake mushrooms.)
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
Uncover and cook for 15 more minutes.

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Taiwanese Sandwich

This is my husband’s all time comfort food! A beautiful tea sandwich that is great for snacks, kid’s lunch box, picnic or even breakfast. Traditionally, this sandwich is made out of white bread. I used whole wheat bread instead.

 

Start with fresh soft bread and an Asian mayonnaise. Uwajimaya sells mayonnaise in squeeze bottle. There is one even with minimal or no cholesterol. (My 22 month old helped me spread the mayonnaise on the bread.)

Before assembling this multistoried sandwich, I beat 2 omega-III eggs in a bowl, pour the beaten egg onto a heated pan, pour out extra back to the bowl. Once the egg is set, transfer to a plate. Continue to make the egg pancake until the bowl is empty. I made almost 4 egg pancake with just 2 eggs.

Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise onto the bread. The first layer, I used Trader Joes’s persian cucumber (it is smaller than English cucumber). The next layer, I used the egg pancake. Since my egg pancake was round, I simply fold in the extras, as shown in the photo. The final layer, I used Trader Joe’s black forest ham, but any ham will work. Honey baked ham would taste great as well.

Once the layers are done, use a sharp knife to cut into half or quarter. When I serve this to guests, I usually trim the sides.

 

While I was preparing the sandwiches, my husband assembled the new picnic table for the kids.

 

 

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Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (台湾牛肉麵)

William mentioned this dish twice after his trip back from Taiwan.  So, I decided to make it for dinner tonight.  Check out the recipe in the Taiwanese Good Eats page.  

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Taiwanese Pork Chops

Being the oldest and tallest, I had the advantage of stealing Mom’s deep-fried chicken drumsticks before dinner.    Our family loves deep-fried chicken so much that we would go to KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) five times a year to celebrate our birthdays.  

As a grown-up, I still enjoy deep-fried foods.  Using sweet potato flour instead of cornstarch gives the skin a very flavorful crunch.  Click here for recipe.

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Goodies From Taiwan

Thank God, William and the kids are back from Taiwan, safe and sound.  They even remember to bring me back some Taiwanese bakery. 

This pizza looking pie has layers of different texture.  Not too sweet and yes, it is addictive.  The top layer is pastry followed by a thin layer of red bean.  The center layer is mochi, kind of like marshmallows.  The bottom layer is pine nuts.

 
This next one is called “Dan Wang Shu”  Egg Yolk Pastry.  I like the sweetness from the redbean and the saltyness from the egg yolk.

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