Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Father In Law's 60th Birthday

Last night we celebrate my father in law's 60th birthday at next door seafood restaurant. It's also our last dinner together before we return to Indonesia tonight.

Every time we came to Taiwan we always eat at this restaurant because it's so convenient, just a few steps away from where my in laws live. The differences between this time dinner and previous dinner are first we have a new addition of daughter in law, Sau Ya. Then the second is the new addition of a new granddaughter, La La.

Here are the menu :

Pic: Deep-fried boneless pork ribs

Pic: The famous clam ginger soup that Richard keep ordering

Pic: Steamed Fish and 3 cups squid with Thai basil ( holly basil )

Pic: Deep-fried Smelt with pepper and salt dip, Pork Small Intestine cooked with sliced ginger and sour mustard

Pic: Spicy Shark dish and noodle dish

Pic: Another KangKong dish ( water spinach/ ong choi ) and what the shark meat look like. I think after Richard marry me, his cuisine has broadening a lot if not, I think he will still eat the same food again and again. I asked my family here about which part of the shark is this dish made of but nobody can answer me that.

Pic: Kai Kai teasing his sister

Monday, August 28, 2006

Los Angeles Farmer's Market

First of all don't get confuse because I am writing about Los Angeles Farmer's Market. I am still in Taipei right now and in fact tomorrow night I am leaving Taipei to Indonesia...finally...

I wrote this because there are never enough time for me to sneak this story in while I am in Taipei all this time, so now I am going to write it.

Many years ago my aunt brought me to this place and I have never been back here since then. So when Richard asked if I have any idea on where to go on our last day in LA, I suggest us to go here because Richard never been here before.

I remember this place as being big but since I have lived in Vancouver and went to Granville Island Public Market many times, I just realize that this place is actually small !

We arrived in that place in a very hungry state so we ended up eating at the first restaurant we saw, a BBQ place. Each of us ordered different things, but after I taste everything, I found that the baby back ribs is still the best.

Then I saw there is a ice cream parlor that boasted that they have won many blue ribbons in competition, so I stop there to try it. Not bad ... but is not that great I think.

Then we walk around that place. Sure we saw some other restaurants. I think the only one that attract my eyes is a store full with French cheese and wine. They have outdoor tables where you can ordered some wine and cheeses to nibble. I should have stop here instead of the BBQ place. Then another thing I found fascinating is the nut store. It sells so many different type of nuts, either raw or they already processed it.

Beside nuts in all their glory forms, they also sell any kind of candied fruits that looks so beautiful in their glistening sugary coat. You can't buy this kind of quality from your local grocery store. I can just imagine to use these candied fruits for my panettone, my tutti frutti ice cream or maybe my fruit cake ...hmm....

Pic: assortment of popcorns

Pic: Candied fruits

Pic: Dried fruit, not the same with candied fruits

Pic: That's my aunt checking out some nuts

Pic: assortment of jam, chutney, etc

Pic: fresh fruits, compare to Granville Island public market, this is nothing.

Pic: Mr. Ground Pork

Pic: Indonesian/Malaysian/Singaporean restaurant

Pic: Richard in front of hot sauce store

Just for fun I am going to post a Panettone recipe in here ... it's been a long time right that I did not post any recipe....

Almost every region in Italy has its own Christmas cake, but this Milanese specialty is by far the the most famous and most difficult to make. Panettone is available both in a high, dome-shaped or flat version. Natural yeast (that is, leavened dough) is essential to making a real panettone, because if the cake is made directly from brewer's yeast, its flavor is less delicate. Besides, the process of letting the dough rise must be carried out according to very specific instructions so that the result has a soft and airy texture. In any case, rising time depends on many factors: room temperature, the season, the length of the mixing process, etc. The timing given in the recipe can therefore only be approximate.

1 oz. baker's yeast
3 oz. flour
2 cups flour
7 tbs. sugar
1 whole egg
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup melted butter
6 tbs. raisins, soaked and squeezed
2 oz. candied orange and lemon peel, diced
1 1/2 tbs. butter

See Also:

Wine Pairings
Acqui or Brachetto d'Acqui DOCG
Moscadello di Montalcino DOC


Mix the yeast with the flour and as much water as necessary for the dough to be elastic. Wrap in a towel and put into a warm draft-free place (an unlit oven, for example) until doubled in size (it should take approx. 30 mins) and the surface is uneven. Make a small fontana with 4 tbs. flour. Crumble the dough cake on top of it, add 1/2 cup warm water and knead until the dough is elastic. Let rise in a warm place for 3 hours.

Punch down the dough, and then, knead in another 4 tbs. flour, with as much warm water as necessary. Place the dough in a warm place to rise for 2 hours. Combine the sugar, the whole egg and the yolks. Mix well and cook in a double boiler for a few minutes, beating the mixture with a whisk so that it becomes light and airy. Let cool.

Make another fontana with the remaining flour. Put in a pinch of salt, the risen dough, the butter and the egg mixture into the middle. Knead energetically for 20 mins. When the dough is smooth and elastic, add the raisins and candied peel. Grease and flour a sheet of waxed paper and place the dough in the center. Make a ring around it with a rectangular piece of cardboard and let rise in a warm place for at least 6 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Cut a cross on top of the cake with a sharp knife and put 1 tbs. butter in the middle. Cook the panettone in a pre-heated 400ºF oven for 40-45 mins. The cake is ready when a skewer inserted in the center comes out dry.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Catching My Own Meal

Yeah... this is going to take my culinary journey to another level. While I am in a quest of broadening my cooking skill, all this time I just buy my ingredients from the market but this time is going to be more challenging because tonight... I have to catch my own shrimps if I want to eat my dinner!

Here is the story ...

Richard told me that his youngest brother, Jackie and his wife Li-Hoa love to go "shrimping" they called it. Since my first time to go to Taipei, I saw many "shrimping" places around where we stay. These "shrimping" places usually open 24 hrs a day! So I guess when people here got nothing else to do, they can always go to catch shrimps. It's so easy anyway .... but not cheap, mind you.

At this specific place, they have 4 pools with 4 price options.

NOTE: Let's just say that US $ 1 = NT $ 30

Pool # 1 is NT $300/ 3 hrs - The pool has only female shrimps, small size and the usual type that available in the grocery stores.

Pool # 2 is NT $500/ 3 hrs - The pool has a mixture of both female and male shrimps. Male shrimps are about 40% larger than the female, so it has more meat and you better watch out for their claws because they will pinch you if you are careless or in my husband case clueless...poor guy.... This is the one we chose.

Pool # 3 is NT $ 700/ 3 hrs - The pool has only male shrimps.

Pool # 4 is NT $ 700/ 3 hrs - This pool only has fish. The length of the fish is around 30 cm. It has sharks too, so watch out! It's very very hard to catch the fish. While with catching the shrimps you will use either raw chicken liver or dried shrimps as the bait. Here on the fish pool you can't use any bait at all! The owner of these places know how to make money out of you! Not only you can't use the bait, but the fishing rod that they provide is weak so it can snap off easily. It takes a skill to be able to catch the fish, but it is not impossible to do it because I saw quite a few men who did catch their fish. So just by , let say, whipping the hook in the water and hopping that it might get hooked on the fish tail or something is not going to work here. You need to wrapped the string somehow around the fish body by making a looping motion. Well... that's what Richard told me anyway...

So here I am trying to catch my shrimp for the first time. Knowing absolutely zero about any tricks on how to catch the shrimps. Luckily because I am used to handle raw meat, I am not queasy about putting the raw chicken liver into the hook. Then just put the hook in the water and start watching the bobber or the float.

When I was still a teenager, I have a bestfriend who introduce me to the world of fishing. At first just to keep him company, but later he brought me to fish for the sole purpose of improving his "luck" or at least when we went home, we definitely have some fish to eat!

What he doesn't know, my secret of always catching some fish is by praying like I am going to be executed in a matter of minutes! Just joking...just joking....hmm...not really. It's true that I always pray though.

Before I throw my hook into the water, I asked Li-Hoa, what is her best catch so far. She said the most she ever catch was 5 shrimps in 3 hours. Oooookkay.... that doesn't sound like enough for my tummy.... so I prayed to God to give me 10. Not too greedy right since I have to share my shrimps with Richard and Kai Kai?

3 minutes later, I got my first shrimp!

5 minutes later, I got my second shrimp!

10 minutes later, Kai Kai got his first shrimp!

( Richard tried to shrimp for about 5 minutes but soon he gave the rod back to me because he thinks we have a better chance at eating shrimps if I hold the fishing rod instead of him )

10 minutes later I got my third shrimp.

But when I reach number 7, I catch nothing for like 20 minutes and the clock keeps ticking. When I only have 5 minutes left I caught my 8th, then 2 minutes later my 9th, and exactly on the dot of my 3 hours time limit, I caught my 10th shrimps!!!!

That was quite dramatic! Remember that I prayed for 10 shrimps before I start? I did not tell Richard that I asked for specifically 10 shrimps. He was worried that I will be charge another 1 hour fishing time if I just fish 1 minute longer than my 3 hrs time limit. I guess that's the rule in here. He kept trying to grab my fishing rod out of my hand. so finally I yell at him " Stop it! Trust me, I am catching your 10th shrimps right now!!!! " and then he really did grab my fishing rod out of my hands when the clock hit the 3 hrs mark, and when he pull the string up....there it was... my 10th shrimp dangling at the end of the line!!!! How cool is that????

When I told him my secret of always catching fish was by praying, he did not quite believe me, but now I make a believer out of him, hahaha.... Now he is eager to take me to another "shrimping" or fishing trip!

None of my brother in laws, their wives and their child catch more than me that night. I felt bad when I saw that one of my brother in law catch so little so when his "shrimping" time limit is almost up, I borrow his fishing rod and caught one shrimp for him with only 1 minutes before the time limit end. His wife challenged me to catch a shrimp at the last minute and I did it. I prayed secretly again off course.

So now Jackie clean up our shrimps right on the premises. These kind of places always has everything. It has a corner where they have a cook who can cook your catch for you or if you are really unlucky and not catching enough, you can always just buy it from them in already cooked form. Then this place has a corner where you can clean and cook your shrimps on your own. You can either broil the shrimps with only salt as their seasoning. Or you can make a soup. They provide the pots and the sauce to make a simple shrimp soup. This time we all agree that we want to broil our shrimps. So after Jackie clean the shrimps, he put them in a grill wire basket, threw a lot of salt on it, then tap the wire to get rid of the excess salt. Then my other brother in law, Bruce, did the broiling for us.

Well... I do admit that this broil shrimps are probably the most expensive shrimps I have ever eaten. For only a few shrimps, we have to pay NT$ 1500 or about US $ 50! But it sure is fun to have a clean family time with our family right? This place is design for family fun, it also has karaoke, basketball hoop game, other arcade games, some little car for children to ride as well. You can always get more bait without paying extra and to make it more interesting, they always threw a bucket of live shrimps into the pool every hour! So customers can see that the pool indeed has shrimps in it. They always threw the new shrimps on the same spot of the pool, but don't bother with insisting to cast your hook in that spot because those shrimps never want to stay on that spot. They always move around right away.

Because we were not satisfied with the shrimps yet , Jackie promise to take us to a restaurant that serve mostly shrimp dishes!

So now here we are at the shrimp restaurant, the next day after we went "shrimping", just as Jackie promised us.

This restaurant has a big poster on the wall that shows the many ways they can cook their shrimps. We ordered black pepper shrimps, hot salt and pepper shrimps, and shrimps cooked with ginseng roots and a couple other Chinese herbs in wine. We also ordered 2 garlic Kangkong dish ( water spinach/ong choi ), and BBQ 5 spices bacon dip in garlic vinegar dipping sauce and leek that is finely sliced.

Let me describe the taste.

All of the shrimps has roe on their tummy.

The black pepper shrimps taste salty and has a lot of heat that comes from the black pepper.

The salt and pepper shrimps is my favorite shrimp dish tonight. It taste salty yet sweet and meaty inside.

The bacon is so good that I am going to start looking for it's recipe.

The vegetable dish is good because the kangkong is so big yet crunchy tender because it's not so fibrous.

Pic: Black pepper shrimps

Pic: Shrimps cooked in chinese herbs and wine

Pic: Taiwanese Kangkong ( water spinach ) cooked with garlic and chilies

Pic: pepper and salt shrimps

Pic: 5 spiced BBQ bacon

The one that surprise me is the shrimp wine soup because it has such a punch! I think I can get drunk from drinking the soup! The wine is very fragrant and it is a bit sweet and is like drinking a hot sake with shrimp in it. Off course you can taste the ginseng and the other herbs too but not too overpowering because you can still smell the wine. I won't serve this soup to children. At first I did not like the strong taste of the wine because I drank it first. See here, I am so used to the way Cantonese food being serve which is, soup always comes first to wet you appetite while for most of other Chinese tribe like Hokkien people ( Most Taiwanese are hokkien people ) always drink their soup last as their "drink". So when I drink the soup again by the end of the meal, I found out that the wine taste has mellow a little bit from continuing cooking on the table stove and now I can truly appreciate the flavour of the wine. It still has quite a bit of alcohol punch in it but now it works to cleanse your palate instead of over powering your taste. But if you like the strong taste of the alcohol then by all means you can drink the soup all through your meal like Richard.

This restaurant has the corner where you can serve yourself with rice, washabi mixed with soy sauce for dipping your shrimps ( this is the traditional way of eating shrimps in Taiwan ), or chili soy sauce. Then you can drink free cold water or you can grab your own beverages from the fridge. Here in Taiwan, you have to get grab your own beverages from the fridge and then you get your paper cups as well. Later they will add it to your bill. So don't just sit and wait for your drink to be served.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Welcome To Raohe Street Night Market In Taipei

When ever we came to Taipei, my mother in law never fails to bring us to meet her brother sisters and even her aunt. Last time we already met her oldest sister who live very near the Elite bookstore that I love in this story. . This time we went to her old home also in Taipei. After we chat for a short while, Richard, me and Kai Kai left my mother in law and La La in her youngest sister' home while we walk to Raohe St. Night Market. If watching the many videos that I embedded on this story make you want to go to Raohe St. Night market, you better click on this link because it has the more detail information on what you should eat while you are there, how to go there etc.

Nobody seems surprise when I walk around shoving my camera in front of their faces because I saw many other foreigners do that there. That's why I am comfortable enough to make these long movies for you to see.

This night market is famous for their stinky tofu stew. The best one is from the store in that area, not from the sellers that sold their stinky tofu stew in the middle of the street. There is only one stinky tofu seller that own their own store in the building next to the street so it's hard to miss it.

What we ate there last night were:

1. Deep-fried stinky tofu with cabbage pickle
2. Tempura corn sprinkled with garlic seasoning with chili powder upon request
3. BBQ corn with chili upon my request again
4. Mango shave ice with sweet condense milk pour on top
5. Pan-fried quails
6. Lemon juice drink
7. Sago pearl in strawberry flavor coconut drink
8. Catfish in a Chinese herb soup
9. Baby oyster cooked with egg and glutinous rice flour mixture and tomato sauce
10. My ultimate must have food in night market, strawberries coated with crunchy caramel on a stick, you can find the recipe for this food in here.

It seems a lot right? But actually that's nothing compare to what this night market has to offer ...

So here they are the movie and the pictures that I took so you can sort of experience Raohe St. Night Market with us .... Enjoy!

Movie: Entering the gate at Raohe St. Night Market

Pic:Steamed sweet corn

Pic: Puff pastry

Pic: Tradition Chinese cake

Pic: Grill savory mochi

Pic: Assortment of stewed food for snacking. They usually use several different of spices such as fennel, cinnamon, star anise, etc then use a lot of soy sauce and sugar for the basic stewing liquid. Because the seller keep adding so many ingredients into her basic stew liquid, it becomes tastier and tastier. Something that is hard to reproduce with home-cooking. If you want to achieve this flavor fast, then add either chicken stock or use bullion in your stewing liquid.

Pic: 2 of my favorite things. On the left is BBQ corn, very unique flavor. Right side : first you pick what you like, then they either deep-fried or BBQ it for you with their sauce. Then you can request them to add chili if you want.

Pic: From traditional Chinese sweet to fish. Even dogs and birds ...

Pic: My other favorite food. On the left is the mango shave ice that is availability is seasonal, the on the right is the strawberries coated with crunchy caramel on a stick.

Pic: My pan-fried quail and he also sells wild boar meat.

Pic: He is drizzling sweet condense milk on top of his mango shave ice

Pic: On the left is Richard eating his catfish cooked in Chinese herbs soup.

Movie: The interior of the old temple