Taiwanese Good Eats

When our friend came back from Taiwan, she brought us back some almond nougats that were chewy on the outside and crunchy on the inside. When a sister at our church shared the recipe with me, I was more than eager to try. After a few attempts, I finally got it done. My daughter said I should open up my own shop in farmer’s market. Here’s the recipe for almond nougats or niu ga tang (牛軋糖).

A great dish to prepare for a crowd or potluck is Stir Fry Rice Noodles (米粉) and Taiwanese Meat Soup (Ro Geng).

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (台湾牛肉麵) is a one-dish meal that will warm the body on cold winter nights.

The Taiwanese Pork Chop and Ground Pork (台湾排骨飯) is our family’s all time favorite. Add pickled cabbage, stir fry vegetable, five spiced egg, and it will be an unforgetable meal.

I was introduced to this dish, Oyster Omelet (蚵仔煎), when I first got married. However, only recently that I learned how to make this dish. You see, my husband is an Oyster fan. One of the ways that I am trying to reach his soul is by satisfying his cravings.

One of my husband’s favorite snack is Box Leek (韭菜盒子).

My latest hobby is making Taiwanese Buns. Ham and Corn Taiwanese Homemade Bun (火腿玉米手工麵包) makes a great lunch or snack for school.

Recently, a Sister from my old Texas church kindly shared Taiwanese Beef Jerky (自制牛肉干) recipe with me.

Many years ago, while I was still a student in the University, one student gave me a gift from Taiwan. They were delicious pastry individually wrapped in beautiful square boxes. Here’s the recipe for pineapple cake (鳳梨酥).
















Almond Nougats (牛軋糖)

What makes this recipe easy is the use of marshmallows. Thanks Sister SY for sharing the recipe….

Ingredients
butter 1/4 stick (2 Tbsp or 28.35gram)
marshmallows 8 oz
toasted almonds 2 cups
whole milk powder 1/3 cup
coffee mate (I use Hazelnut flavor) 1/2 cup

Method
Melt marshmallows and butter under low heat. (I use a non-stick pan.)
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Pour into pan. (Lately, I have been using just parchment paper to mold and wrap the nuggets and they turned out real well.)
Put in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Cut into cubes to serve.






Taiwanese Beef Jerky (自制牛肉干)

1 ½ lbs boneless rump roast beef

1)
3 cups water
3 slices ginger root
2 stalks of green onion
3 star anise
Some dried orange peel

2)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp wine

Mix 1) with beef; place in a pressure cooker and cook for 25 min. or cook 1 ½ hours over medium heat on stove, until meat is tender. Let cool and drain. Keep the liquid for later use.

Cut beef along grain into paper thin slice. Place beef in frying pan together with sauce in 2), and saved liquid in step 1 (we do not need all of the liquid, I used about quarter cup.) Stir and cook over low heat until liquid has dried out.

Place them on cookie sheet. Preheat oven to 350F. Bake for 20 min. Remove, cool on rack and serve.

Variations:

“Spicy Beef Jerky”: Add 1 tbsp hot pepper powder to 2).
“Curry Beef Jerky”: Sprinkle 2 tsp curry powder on the cooled Beef Jerky.






Ham and Corn Taiwanese Homemade Bun (火腿玉米手工麵包)

Making our own bread is a rewarding experience. It is exciting to watch the simplest ingredients (flour, water, yeast, sugar and butter) become something more than the sum of the ingredients.

Yeast-risen dough permeates an area with its delicious scent. There’s nothing better than bread made from scratch, baked to golden perfection.

A delicious bun deserves a good intro. Thanks to Google, I was able to put together a great intro for my successful cottony soft homemade bun.

close up view of the soft and fluffy bread….

The following sweet dough recipe can be used to make other buns like Hot Dog Buns or “Pineapple” (Polo) Buns.

Recipe adapted from Savory Handmade Bread

Ingredients for Sweet Dough : (approx. 1000g of dough)
Bread flour 500g
Bread yeast 15g
White sugar 100g
Salt 5g
Milk Powder 10g
Warm Water 260g
Egg 1
Butter 50g (diced into small pieces)

Method:
Mix the bread flour, yeast, milk powder, warm water, sugar and salt. Add egg. When the dough is formed, add butter. Continue to rub the dough until it becomes elastic, the surface is smooth and not sticky. Try stretching the dough with your fingers to form a thin layer as shown in the following photo. If the stretched dough does not break easily and light can pass through it, the baked bread will be fluffy, soft and savory.

Spread a thin layer of oil on the mixing bowl. Roll the dough into a round shape and put into the mixing bowl. Cover the dough with cling wrap and leave it for 40-60 minutes until complete fermentation. You can poke with a finger dipped with some flour to see if the dough is completely fermented. The fermentation is complete if the poked hole does not rebound, as shown in the photo.

After the big lump of dough has completed its fermentation, divide the dough into 8 smaller balls. Cover the balls and let it rise for 15 minutes. Then the dough is ready for toppings.


Ingredients for the ham and corn topping: (toppings for approx. 450g of sweet dough)
cheese slices 6
mix 150g corn, 4 ham slices (diced into small pieces) with some mayonnaise

Method:

Roll the dough into a strip and cover with cheese slices. Roll up the dough. Leave about 2cm margin above the folded part and make a cut in the middle. Unfold the dough and place it on the baking tray. Leave the dough to ferment and rise to twice of its original size.

After the dough has risen, spread the corn and ham mixture on the dough. Bake at 200 degrees Celcius or 392 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.

Important Tip:
Make sure your scale is pointing to zero before you measure your ingredients.

related article: Hokkaido Bread






Stir Fry Rice Noodles (米粉)

recipe adapted from Chinese One Dish Meal by Huang Su Huei

1/3 lb dry rice noodles (I recommend Hsin Chu brand)
1/3 lb pork, part fat, shredded (optional)
2 T small dried shrimp, soaked
2 dried Chinese black mushrooms, soaked and cut in julienne strips
1 cup onion sliced in half circles
1 1/2 T soy sauce
1 cup stock
1/4 t salt
pinch of pepper
2 cup cabbage shredded ( I used bean sprouts instead of cabbage)
1 cup carrot shredded

Bring a pot of water to a boil and immerse the dry rice noodles in it for a few seconds. Remove from the water and set aside.
Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a preheated wok. Stir fry the meat shreds, and then add dried shrimp, mushroom, onion, one by one in order.
Add the soy sauce and stir fry briefly.
Add stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
Add the rice noodles and shredded vegetables.
Stir fry until all the liquid has been absorbed. Serve hot.







Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup (台湾牛肉麵)

My husband mentioned this dish twice after his trip back from Taiwan. So, I decided to give it a try. I used the Pasta Machine to make the noodles.

Here are the ingredients, beef shank, garlic, star anise, ginger, cilantro, orange peel, red pepper flakes and green onion. I also used low sodium soy sauce, brown sugar and chinese cooking wine.


When the beef is tender (but not falling apart), I put in some carrots.

(Reference: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/recipe_views/views/231502)

ingredients

5 cups water
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup Chinese rice wine or medium-dry Sherry
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 (1-inch) cube peeled fresh ginger, smashed
1 bunch scallions, white parts smashed with flat side of a large knife and green parts chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
10 fresh cilantro stems plus 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs
2 (2-inch-long) pieces Asian dried tangerine peel*
4 whole star anise
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
2 1/2 lb meaty beef shank
10 oz dried Chinese wheat noodles* or linguine
bok choy
4 tablespoons Chinese pickled mustard greens**
1 (4-inch-long) fresh red chile (optional), thinly sliced

Special equipment: cheesecloth

preparation
Bring water, soy sauce, rice wine, brown sugar, ginger, white parts of scallion, garlic, cilantro stems, tangerine peel, star anise, and red pepper flakes to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart pot, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Add short ribs and gently simmer, covered, turning occasionally, until meat is very tender but not falling apart, 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 hours. Let meat stand in cooking liquid, uncovered, 1 hour.Transfer meat to a cutting board with tongs and discard bones and membranes, then cut meat across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Pour beef broth through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl and discard solids. Skim fat from cooking liquid and transfer liquid to a 3-quart saucepan.

Meanwhile, cook noodles in a 6- to 8-quart pot of (unsalted) boiling water until tender, about 7 minutes (14 to 15 minutes for linguine). Drain noodles well in a colander and divide among 4 large soup bowls.

Ladle broth over noodles and top with meat, scallion greens, pickled mustard greens, cilantro sprigs, and red chili (if using).

Cooks’ note:
Meat and beef broth can be cooked and strained 3 days ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chill meat in broth, covered. Skim fat before adding chicken broth.

Lee-Ping’s notes: Since I used beef shank, there really isn’t much fat to skim before serving. Also, dilute the soup with water before serving because the soup is salty.

Reader’s tip – add a Tsp tomato paste to beef noodle soup. For darker spicer soup can also add some spicy bean paste. (thanks Chliu528!)

*Available at some Asian markets.
**Available at some Asian markets and Uwajimaya






Taiwanese Pork Chop and Ground Pork with garlic and shallots

I can serve these two dishes to my husband and kids daily and they will never get tired of it. The first dish is ground pork with garlic and shallots (top with some fresh green onion). The second is deep-fried Taiwanese pork chop flavored with Chinese five-spice powder, soy sauce, sugar, black pepper, garlic slices and coat with sweet potato powder to give it the special crunch.

You can serve these two dishes with plain white rice or noodles and a simple vegetable side, like bok choy. You can also add hard boiled egg, sweet and sour pickle on the side.


Ground Pork with Shallots and Garlic Recipe

(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.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring a couple of times.
Uncover and cook for 15 more minutes.

Deep-Fried Taiwanese Pork Chop Recipe
(reference: http://pork.allrecipes.com/az/83792.asp)

Ingredients:
4 (3/4 inch) thick bone-in pork chops
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon white wine
1/2 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
vegetable oil
vegetable oil for frying
sweet potato starch (or cornstarch)

Directions:
With a sharp knife, make several small slits near the edges of the pork chops to keep them from curling when fried.
Into a large resealable plastic bag, add the soy sauce, garlic, sugar, white wine, and five-spice powder. Place chops into the bag, and close the seal tightly. Carefully massage the marinade into chops, coating well. Refrigerate at least 1 hour, turning the bag over every so often.
In a large skillet, heat enough vegetable oil to fill the skillet to a depth of about 1/2 inch. Remove chops from resealable bag without wiping off marinade. Lightly sprinkle sweet potato starch or cornstarch on both sides of the chops. Sweet potato starch will give the pork chop a light crunch.
Carefully add chops to skillet; cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through.






Oyster Omelet

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!






Box Leek (韭菜盒子) Jiu Cai He Zi

This is my husband favorite Chinese snacks. If you like the smell and taste of leek, this is the dish for you. It looks complicated but it is actually quite simple to make. As you can see from the photo, there are only 4 main ingredients, leeks, pressed bean curd, dried shrimp and bean threads.

Soak the bean thread in cold water and use a pair of scissors to cut the threads into small pieces. Wash and cut the leeks into small pieces, as shown. Cut the pressed bean curds into small cubes. If the dried shrimps are too large, you can chop them up as well.

Heat pan and add 2-3 tbsp of oil. Fry the dried shrimp first. Then add pressed bean curd, bean threads, and leek. Add seasonings 2 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 t pepper and mix well. Turn off heat and let it cool.

Next, prepare the dough. 2 cups of flour (all purpose), 1/2 cup boiling water, 1/4 cup cold water. I use chopsticks to mix the mixture. Add the cold water in slowly, as needed.

Knead the dough smooth and elastic.

Knead the dough smooth and elastic.

Divide into 10-12 pieces and cover with plastic wrap to prevent the dough from drying.

Place one portion of the filling in the center of a dough circle. Fold the dough in half. Press edges together to enclose filling. Heat the pan and add 1/2 cup oil. Pan fry the turnovers on both sides over low heat until they are golden brown. Remove and serve. (reference: Chinese Snacks by Huang Su Huei)






Taiwanese Meat Soup (Ro Geng)

In Mandarin, this is called “Ro Geng”. In Taiwanese language, this is called “Bah Geng”. My roommates from Taiwan used to make this soup in a pot and I can smell the soup even when my doors were closed.

I used the following recipe as my reference:

http://www.chezpei.com/2006/08/ro-geng.html

This recipe is interesting in that it doesn’t involve any complicated techniques or particularly exotic ingredients, but the prep work can kill you if you don’t plan ahead and expect to be in the kitchen for a long time. This recipe will make a large pot (six quart pot, not filled all the way to the top) of ro geng, which was perfect for dinner for three and leftovers the next day.

Ingredients:
Pork butt (shoulder), about 1 lb
Fish paste, about 1/2 lb
two 32 fl oz. chicken stock + enough water to cover the vegetable
a small napa cabbage, or half a large one
ten shitake mushrooms, fresh or soaked overnight in water
2-3 tbsp dried shrimp, soaked in water
three carrots
one 16 oz. can of slivered bamboo (not whole, not sliced–slivered!)
one package fresh enoki mushrooms, or canned if you can’t find fresh
one package wood ear mushrooms if you can find them and if you like them
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup black vineger
dash of white pepper
dash of sesame oil
1/4 cup cornstarch mix with 1/4 cup cold water
fresh cilantro

Method:
This dish is as much about texture as flavor. Cut the meat against the grain into three inch long slices. Because pork butt has so many sections, you’re going to have to turn the meat a lot and constantly check that you’re cutting against the grain. It helps if the meat is slightly frozen. Just be sure to trim all the biggest chunks of fat and throw them away. This is probably the toughest part of the recipe to get right.

Cut napa cabbage in half horizontally (that is, separate the top leafy part from the bottom white part). Stack the two halves, and cut into finger-thick strips the other way.

Cut the carrots into long thin strips similar size to the slivered bamboo strips.

Slice the shitake and wood ear thinly.

Cut the dirty part off the enoki and separate them lightly.

Chop cilantro. Whether you include the stems is up to you. I like to leave just a little stem for crunch.

Add chicken stock to a pot of water (about a gallon total). Of course if you have homemade chicken or pork stock you can use that. Bring to a rapid boil.

Meanwhile, mix the pork slices and fish paste until all the pork is evenly coated.

When the water comes to a boil, start dropping the coated pork in one slice at a time. Be sure not to let the pork drop in the water in clumps.

Turn down the flame to a simmer and add the dried shrimp.

After 10 minutes of slow simmer, add the napa, bamboo, mushrooms, and carrots. Stir well and bring to a simmer.

Add soy sauce, black vinegar, and a teaspoon of salt. Taste, and add more if needed.

Cover and let everything cook together at a bare simmer for half an hour or until the vegetables are soft.

Mix cornstarch with cold water and mix well. It should be the consistency of whole milk. Make sure there are no lumps. Bring the soup to a light boil. While stirring, add half the cornstarch mixture in a thin stream. Stir well so you don’t get big clumps. Let the soup simmer so it thickens up. You’re going for a gooey consistency kind of like gravy, but thinner than clam chowder out of a can. Add more cornstarch mixture if needed.

Add a dash of sesame oil and white pepper upon serving. This stew is good the next day or straight out of the pot.
















7 responses to “Taiwanese Good Eats

  1. Do you like your pasta machine? I am thinking to get one. I make pasta by hand and then put it through the pasta cutter that hooks up to my Cuisinart. But it is very messy. Should I get it?

  2. Dear Steamy Kitchen,

    This pasta machine was a gift from my neighbor. It was her wedding gift. She only used the machine once and it has been sitting in her pantry for years. She gave it to me because she knows that I will use it.

    If you make pasta from scratch (flour, egg, etc), frequently, and you have a space for it in your kitchen, you should get one.

    I have not used a pasta cutter that hooks up to a Cuisinart or Kitchen Aid before, so I do not know how to compare the mess from that to my pasta machine.

    However, I can tell you what happens when I use my pasta machine. Not much mess on the counter, if I am careful loading the ingredients into the machine. Once the flour, egg, etc. is in the machine, it stays in, it doesn’t fly all over the place when you turn it on.

    The first time I used this machine, I did a mistake of putting it in the dish washer right after I was done making pasta. The trick to cleaning this machine is to open the lid and let it air dry overnight. The dry doughs will come off easily. At that time, you can either put it into dishwasher or just hand wash.

    If you have more questions, feel free to ask me.

  3. One of our pet projects — one that we haven’t gotten around to — is Taiwanese beef noodle soup. How was the epicurious recipe compare?

    One of the things holding us back is the pickled/salted greens they serve with the dish. We’ve never been able to figure out what that is nor how to make it. Any hints?

  4. Hi js,

    I like this particular epicurious recipe for Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup. If you like thicker soup, I suggest that you use beef stock in place of water.

    As far as the pickled mustard greens, I usually get mine in the refrigerator section of the local Asian supermarket. Here’s a link with a photo of how the package looks like. The first photo (though, not sure if it is that exact brand) is the kind that I buy.

    I usually buy the kind that is in vacuum seal plastic packaging. Rinse, drain the mustard green and cut into 1 inch pieces. Then stir fry it with thin strips of ginger. If you like, add thinly sliced fresh red chilies.

    One package is good for at least two servings of the above recipe, so I would seal the extra mustard green, “juice” and all and leave it in the refrigerator until the next time I make this dish again.

    Hope that helps…

  5. joy

    Hello, Thank you for taking the time to post your recipes. I love Taiwanese food but don’t know how to cook it well. I look forward to trying your recipes. My husband loves the fried pork with 5 spice so we’ll try it for dinner this week.

    I’m encouraged by your love for your family and food!

    • Dear Joy,
      Thanks for your comment. You will cook Taiwanese food well (as well as other foods that you love). And you may not take as long as I did. 🙂

      Fried pork with 5 spice is delicious. And it will surely put a smile on your husband’s face.

      Last week, at Bible Study Fellowship, I was reminded of what is love. God tells us what is love in the book of 1 Corinthians 13. Thanks again for taking the time to leave me your comment.

  6. ChasL

    I have a tip to share – add a Tsp tomato paste to beef noodle soup. For darker spicer soup can also add som bean paste.

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