Sunday, December 14, 2008

First Business Trip To Taiwan


Pic : Kaoshiung High Speed Railway Station
Pic: Cherry Tomatoes Salad with fruit vinegar dressing mixed with gelatin made from fruit vinegar also.

It's been 2.5 years since we move to Indonesia and it's about time to start a business by ourselves. So this is our first time ever to go to Taiwan for business reason. Kind of awkward actually but I guess we better get used to it pretty soon.

Yes, it's true we are on a business mission, but, come on.... how can you separate me from FOOD, glorious FOOD ???

So we, ehm... I decide to mix between working and pleasure .... he he....

I am blessed too that my hubby happens to love food as much as I do, ohhh.... alright then, a little than I do . There..... see... I can be honest ......

On one opportunity, we went to take High Speed Railway from Taipei to Kaoshiung to meet someone. After the meeting, my husband brought me to go to the famous night market in Kaoshiung to taste the different food from what I usually eat in Taipei. He said the food in Taipei are generally the mildest, while the food in Kaoshiung is sweeter, hotter. Between this 2 cities which located in the North and the other in the South, you can find the food in middle of Taiwan taste somewhere in between . He wasn't kidding when he said the food in the South is sweeter. Actually, when I tried several different dishes in that market, they almost taste the same, they are always very sweet ( sweeter even than Indonesian food in Solo ! ) and they use vinegar too. So most of the food that has soup or liquid sauce in them always taste sweet and sour. While in Taipei they taste salty yet mild. I think I like Taipei food more. To eat sweet and sour food once in a while is okay, but what I taste in Kaoshiung night market was almost always sweet and sour, so after the second dishes, I couldn't take anymore of that taste.

Pic: Sweet and sour fish soup
.Pic : Sweet and sour seafood fried noodles
Pic: Sweet and sour fried eel noodles
Pic: Sweet and sour squid stew
Pic : Now this can solve a lot of problem with shipping, square watermelon ! It even has that writing tattooed on it.

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Video: The buns are cooked inside the oven, these buns are made with so much meat filling until they almost overflow. They taste very good, not sweet at all. Just juicy and a bit salty.

Kaoshiung is a port city, so a lot of their food is seafood. We saw a lot of seafood on display for sale there.
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Pic: Squid legs bigger than my hand
Pic : ready to eat crab claws size compared with my hand
Pic: Fish egg, I love this !
Pic: They BBQ the fish egg, then cut them into diamond shape, serve with green onion and radish, YUM ! They are also expensive ... unfortunately.

Every time we go back to Taipei, my hubby's old college and friends always want to treat us for dinner and lunches. This is always a good opportunity for me to try different style of food that usually R always brought me to eat. R tend to go to eat in the same traditional Taipei food because that's what he miss off course. But his friends who still live in Taiwan off course do not miss those traditional food as much as R, so they usually always brought us to eat something different that what traditional food restaurant serve.

The first new restaurant that we tried is a BBQ restaurant. Not only they use such a good cut of meat, all imported, even the pork is from Japan. I have never taste pork and beef this good. One thing that also makes this restaurant stand out is their management system. For every branch of this fast growing chain restaurant, 50% of their profit goes back to the headquarter company. The other 50 % of the profit will be shared with the chefs, manager, and the waiters/waitresses. If one of them slacking on their job, the rest can fired him/her. So it's like a real life "Survivors" show ! Off course, the chefs and the manager will get the bigger chunks. Because of this ownership management system, everybody who works there feel like the owner of the restaurant, so they work harder than if they only work for a salary and tip. They want their profit sharing to be bigger and bigger every year. They also cooperate better than normal restaurant. They know that their cooperation in serving the best they can to the customer play an important role to bring the customers back into their restaurant. Smart !!!

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While the waiter/waitress help BBQ the food for us at the beginning, they kept teaching us on how to recognize a good quality of meat, how to cook them to perfection, how to enjoy them, how to taste the original taste of the meat since they are top quality meat. I have to admit, they know what they are talking about. They are right that the meat taste the best with only salt !!! Can you imagine that? That's how good the quality of the meat that they do not need any help at all beside a bit of salt ! I love this restaurant !!!! 5 stars !!!

Pic: Panna cota served with peach jelly in a shape of an egg.


Pic: Red Bean Sweet Soup with Mochi

Pic: 2 different types of fried rice and vegetables for side dish.

Pic: My beauties ...

Another restaurant we tried is a Thai fusion restaurant in Taipei 101. Hmmm.... I am going to admit first that I am not much of a fusion food eater. For me, I like a clear straight to the core food. If today I am going to ask myself what do I want to eat, my answer will be " Today I want to eat Thai food because I am craving for food that taste really hot, really sour, or with thick curry taste ! ". Or maybe I will answer, " Today I want to eat something very mild, clear taste, original taste of Japanese food ". Fusion just makes me confuse. The food always fall in between of no where. So the food that day was like somewhere not in between Thai spiciness and Taiwan mildness... Gosh.... I just don't know how to describe fusion food. They look pretty though and pricey since their location is inside Taipei 101 building.

Pic: Seafood salad
Pic: Curry
Pic: Young Papaya Salad

The third restaurant serves a traditional Taiwan/Taipei food. Richard type of food. 100% .
Even I like it too, after eating enough food in Taiwan, I know what Taipei food is ( Kaoshiung is still a surprise for me with all those sweet and sour taste on every food I tried ). There is no fusion on this restaurant.
Pic : Fresh squid quickly boiled, then sliced, served with young ginger finely shredded and usually we eat this with soy paste, a thicker version of soy sauce that only exist in Taiwan.
Pic: Deep-fried crabs
Pic: Rice porridge with slices bamboo shoot, pretty fish paste, oyster, shrimp, etc. Simple yet satisfying.
Pic : Black chicken soup, a medicinal soup.

We also went to eat this traditional big rice noodle soup in a night market in Taipei. R said this seller is the best in Taipei, and the best part of their food is on the soup. The soup is very well made. Full of flavor, without any addition that will distract it from the original taste. Pure is the word I can describe about their soup. You can just drink it everyday or use it for your cooking and it will enhance the flavor of your dishes. You will not want to use Campbell Chicken soup anymore after you give this a taste.Traditionally, people will have a lot of side dish to eat with this big rice noodle soup. My husband favorite is this boiled pork intestine, again serve simple with finely shredded young ginger and soy paste. If you look closely, a lot of food in Taiwan always serve with finely shredded young ginger to cut down the rich taste of pork. All those side dish on the picture below will all be serve with that combination of finely shredded young ginger and soy paste. Chili sauce or Chili oil is optional.
Another again restaurant that we tried is famous for their deep-fried pork chops. I guess when you crave for it, this is a good place to go to. See the picture below.... One of the fun part is that while you wait for your pork chops, the waiter will give you an individual mortar with toasted sesame seed for you to grind yourself then you add the Bulldog Sauce ( a Japanese bottled sauce that you can buy on any Asian grocery store ) and others thing depending on your preference. Everybody admire how fast and how fine I can ground my sesame seed..... they have no idea how hungry this girl is...... or maybe is that Indonesian upbringing that makes me able to grind a sauce very fast and fine, even though I never try to make Sambal by myself yet somehow I am still good at it.....hahaha....

The last restaurant serve noodles pipping hot, because they are serve on top a fire pot. They sure keep your noodle soup hot till the last drop.....


The video below actually were taken innocently by me. Those people were slaughtering snake illegally to serve in their restaurant in that night market in Kaoshiung. Unknown to me that they do illegal activity I took this video tape, then one of the them saw me and start yelling at me to stop filming them......naughty....naughty....naughty.....

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The video below is taken in Shilin Night Market. The lady first deep fried the bread until they are totally fried inside out just a tad before they burn to a crisp. They becomes very very crispy. Then she hammered them into small pieces, put them inside this soft spring roll skin with choices of ground peanut, pork floss ( Rousong ), sugar, etc.

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I feel incomplete if I only write a report about our trip without giving you a recipe that will help you can imagine on how to make at least one dish from all of the photos above, so here it is ...

The recipe that I will share with you is that Big Rice Noodle Soup that we enjoy at the night market. The first thing that I am a little big concern is, that kind of big rice noodle is not always availabe on every country. I know that I can buy it in US and Canada before. But in Indonesia I haven't have the opportunity to find it. Actually I can always replace that big rice noodle with the usual smaller rice noodle. Again, the key point is at the soup and the accompaniments or the side dishes. But in case you are curious on how to make the big rice noodle, here is the recipe. I found it on my recipe library. Even I am surprise.....


Mi Tai Ma

600g (1 1/3 lb ) rice
2 Tbs. corn starch

  1. Rinse rice and soak in water for 3 hours, drain. Puree rice with 3 C. of water. Press 2/3 of rice puree dry, and break it into fine crumbs by hand.
  2. Dilute the remaining 1/3 of rice puree with 4 C. of cold water, pour into a pot and simmer over low heat until thickened ( about 5 minutes). Knead into rice crumbs and corn starch until doughy.
  3. Bring half pot of water to a boil, place Mi Tai Ma board over the pot widthwise. Knead the rice dough back and fort over the board with equal strength, shaving the dough into shreds. The shaved dough will drop into the boiling water through the holes on the board. This dough shreds are called Mi Tai Ma. When the shreaded dough or Mi Tai Ma floats on top of the water, lift out with a sieve ladle, rinse once under cold water. Mi Tai Ma can be used in soups.
NOTE: If you don't want to go to all the trouble of making fresh Mi Tai Ma, you can try to find them in the grocery store. Look for a dried noodle package that the
ingredients is rice. The dried noodle thickness is about the same size with spaghetti if not slightly thicker.


To use Mi Tai Ma on that Big Rice Noodle Soup, if you use dried noodle, then you boil it first and then drain them before you put them in the pork bone stock. But if you use freshly made noodle, you can directly put the ready to use Mi Tai Ma into the pork stock.

For a complete recipe here it is ...

Rice Noodle Soup

500g thick rice noodle
3 Chinese celery
1 baby ginger
1 pair of pig bone stock
200g pig liver
6 oil bean curd or you can use firm tofu
1 tbs shallot oil

Seasoning:
(A) 2/3 tsp salt, a dash of pepper
(B) 3 Tbs. soy paste, 1/2 tsp spice oil, a dash of sugar, 1 tsp. garlic

Methods:

  1. Cut rice noodles into shorter pieces. Mince celery. Shred baby ginger and soak. Rinse pork intestines, liver, bones.
  2. Put pig bone stock and water in a pot and cook until boiling, then turn to low heat to stew for 1 hours, and then add in pork intestine and liver to cook until soft ; add in rice noodles, oil bean curd and seasoning (A) to cook for a while.
  3. Serve with sprinkling celery, pepper , and shallot oil. Cut pork itestine, liver, bean curd into small pieces, and pour in seasoning (B) and ginger.

Kopyor Coconut , Delicious Mutant Coconut !


Mutant Coconut? Wait.... don't be scared first with the title.

Kopyor according to Wikipedia, is a result of a spontaneous mutation that only happen once in a while in a coconut development. Why this can happen, I have no idea. When I asked people how do they know that this coconut is normal and that coconut is abnormal genetically such as Kopyor, they said you can tell right away whether this coconut is normal or Kopyor by shaking the coconut. And by the sounds of the coconut, they know it right away. The word "Kopyor" actually is not from Bahasa Indonesia, it's a Javanese words that means " the parts are mixed up " or " broken ". As you know that when you open a normal coconut, the meat will be attached to the side of the coconut shell completely. The meat are one solid chunk that lined the inside of the shell right? Well, in the case of Kopyor coconut, the meat texture are not solid, it is a bit spongy and grainy yet very soft, it fall aparts into smaller spongy parts. It can not hold the shape as well as the normal coconut flesh. Kopyor doesn't have as many coconut juice as the normal coconut. The taste is sweeter too. Because this is a mutate coconut that can not be recreate by human intervention , at least not yet, the price is 4 to 5 times the regular coconut. This type of coconut is only reserve for dessert. It can be made into a drink, pudding, cake, or other form of dessert. But definitely too expensive and it doesn't have the right consistency for making coconut milk or cream. So in other word, this mutant coconut is the cream of the coconut crop in Indonesia dessert vocabulary.

Because of the price, some people try to make imitation Kopyor by using agar agar ( jelly ). I found a recipe to make imitation kopyor from this website. Honestly... I have never taste an imitation kopyor because they are not that rare actually, or maybe this is just happen to me because I have never bought a Kopyor Coconut, I always gets it from our supplier who most likely buy them from the villages where they grew coconut trees in their own yards, or maybe they own coconut farm somewhere in their village. Each time I received Kopyor coconut as a gift from our supplier, they always bring them in a big sack that can hold up to 6 or more Kopyor. Usually after that my mom will give some away to her friends or family. We can not finish eating them ourselves.

My cook is not a very imaginative person so don't expect her to make an elaborate dessert with Kopyor. She usually just open it up ( 1 ), drain the coconut water into the container ( 2 ) , then scoop out the flesh, put them in a container also ( 3 ), add a little bit of water for more liquid, then pour rose flavour syrup ( 4 ) , this is the most traditional way, off course you can try other type of syrups . If I want to drink it right away then she will add few ice cubes in it, but if not she will just mix it and then store it in the fridge.

The Indonesian definition from Wikipedia of Kopyor Coconut is this :

Kopyor adalah kelainan genetik pada buah kelapa. Ciri kelainan ini adalah "daging buah" yang empuk atau terlepas dari tempurungnya, jumlah air kelapa sedikit, dan aroma yang khas yang berbeda dari daging kelapa biasa. Sifat ini merupakan hasil mutasi spontan di bagian mayang yang bersifat setempat (biasa dikenal dalam botani sebagai chimera). Perubahan sifat ini dapat terjadi pada saat setelah pembuahan atau bahkan sebelumnya. Buah kelapa kopyor dapat dikenali dengan dengan menggoyang-goyangkan buah ke kiri dan ke kanan, dan akan terdengar bunyi seolah buah kelapa tersebut bukan terisi air tetapi terisi pasir.

Buah kopyor sangat disukai karena rasanya yang menyegarkan bila disajikan sebagai minuman. Kegunaan lainnya ada sebagai bahan kue, baik kue kering maupun kue basah. Nilai ekonomisnya juga sangat tinggi. Jika dibandingkan dengan kelapa biasa, harga kelapa kopyor dapat mencapai empat sampai lima kalinya. Dengan teknik kultur jaringan orang dapat membuat kelapa yang mampu menghasilkan 70-90% buah kelapa kopyor.

Below are some recipes using Kopyor that I found ....

Bongko Kopyor

Available in Indonesia

INGREDIENTS


- Rice Flour 90 Grams

- Maize Flour 10 Grams

- Sugar 50 Grams

- Coconut Milk 500 Cc/From 1/2
Piece Of Coconut

- The Essence Of Coconut Milk 150 Cc/From 1/2
Piece Of Coconut

- Young Coconut 1/2 Piece

PROCEDURES

  • Cook rice flour, maize flour, sugar and salt
  • Take one spoonful, put some young coconut and the essence of boiled coconut milk in it then steam them until they are done.
NOTE: You can either use normal coconut or Kopyor for this recipe.
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