Showing posts from February, 2009

Steamed five spice pork buns 五香肉包

These are common street food in Taiwan and China. The northern Chinese are famous for their wheat-derived dishes (麵點), such as noodles, dumplings, scallion pancakes, etc. Steamed pork buns are very common on breakfast tables. The southerners later came up with their own more refined version -- Shanghainese soupy buns . The northern style (what I made here) uses pure yeast-risen dough. The result is these plump, fluffy, and big buns with a ton of filling. The southern version wants a smaller bun that has thin and stretchable skin while holding in meat juices. So the dough is modified with hot water (prevents a lot of gluten formation so it is more tender) before being fermented with a yeast starter dough. I think that will be a much tougher technique, especially the wrapping part -- the dough is so thin, and the whole thing is very tiny; any mistake will make the skin break and the juice leak out. So I am making these Northern style ones just to get the wrapping technique down. It is a…

Chinese breakfast "cake" 發麵燒餅

When I was visiting my parents last month, my dad showed me his newest hobbies -- making Chinese pastries! He has a bread maker, which makes the proofing of the yeast-risen dough much more controlled. I've been thinking about trying this myself for a while since I got back. It's not hard to buy this kind of pastries in Chinatown. But it is probably difficult to find a really tasty one that is not laden with weird food additives. Making this at home also gives me much more flexibility in the filling. I ended up making two kinds -- scallions, goose fat, white pepper, and sichuan pepper, and salt; black sesame paste, white sesame paste, sugar, and oil. The proofing of the dough turned out much better than I imagined. Without a bread maker, I was really worried about the temperature control. The conventional wisdom is to put the bowl in the oven with a pan of boiling water underneath. It works out fairly well. The yeast dough will generate heat as it is proofing. The ideal tempera…

Valentine's Day dinner

While most people are probably out celebrating this day in restaurants, it is usually a good idea to stay home. V-day special menus tend to be expensive and frankly, not very good. We just received the March 09 issue of the Martha Stewart magazine so we just made the quickie dinner of the month.

Spring Onion soup
Scallops with wilted spinach and arugula
Pasta with spring herbs (dill and tarragon)
Cherry and amaretti parfait

Cherry goes really well with almond flavor. I poached dried cherries in water, sugar, and a dash of amaretto. The cream part is a bit too rich (cream cheese + ricotta cheese). I think yogurt would have been better. I think in this meal the soup and the pasta are the highlights. The pasta is only flavored with lemon zest, juice, olive oil, and herbs. but the lemon flavor really brightens the dish, while the herbs make every bite like an interesting stroll in the a garden on a spring morning. The soup is a quick version of a mutated french onion soup -- rather than coo…

Eggplant salad

A very easy appetizer or side dish. Boil 2 Japanese eggplants for 8 minutes. Soak them in iced water for 5 minutes, then drain and lightly squeeze out excess water. Cut into sections and serve with a sauce made with: 1 Tbsp minced scallion, 1 Tbsp grated ginger, 1 Tbsp grated garlic, 1 Tbsp minced cilantro, 1 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar, 2 Tbsp thick soy sauce, 2 Tbsp ketchup, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp sesame oil, minced chili pepper to taste.

Debt Collection Agency

I received a letter from a debt collection agency. It says I owe some $1000+ to someone some time in 2000. The company to whom I supposedly owe this money is listed. The funny thing is, I was nowhere near that city, not even the state, when the debt allegedly occurred. Now, being a generally good citizen and a well-raised Taiwanese boy, I thought I should dispute this in good faith and also to clear things up for everyone's benefit. But the letter goes one step further to scare me into complying with it -- it says that the agency will assume this debt is valid if I do not dispute it within 30 days. Now it is one of those rare times when you think to yourself, hey, it's not bad to have access to free attorney advice. I was told by my in-house lawyer that, no, they can't just assume such and such. They don't even have proof that I received the letter. His advice? Ignore it unless it shows up on my credit report.

Well, it doesn't. So I am ignoring it. But this action …

Lunch at the Pine Garden


appetizing drink: Mulberry vinegar drink with pomegranate seeds 開胃飲品 桑椹果醋與石榴子

appetizer - abalone with mashed mountain taro; homemade peanut tofu with mountain pearls; marinated eggplant 開胃菜 - 小鮑魚山芋; 花生豆腐配山粉圓; 漬茄子

Steamed egg custard with dried sea scallops and Japanese yam 干貝蒸蛋配山藥泥

Tofu-skin sushi with pickled anchovies 豆皮鯷魚壽司

appetizing drink: Rose petal vinegar drink with pomegranate seeds 開胃飲品 玫瑰果醋與石榴子

sashimi assortment 刺身拼盤

appetizing drink: black date vinegar drink with pomegranate seeds 開胃飲品 黑棗果醋

prawn with fried rice cake and cabbage 明蝦糕炸

Dried mullet roes and king oyster mushroom Taiwanese rice roll 烏魚子飯糰

Chicken soup with Lotus flower 蓮花雞湯

Fruit plate with passion fruit and strawberry juice 餐後水果配百香果草莓汁

Dessert - taro paste with pearl barley and long-yan and red date sauce 甜點 - 金箔芋泥配薏芢與桂圓紅棗醬

Lotus tea 蓮花茶

My mom and I visited a wonderful restaurant/tea house 食養山房 up on the Yang-Ming Mountain (陽明山). Taiwan is truly blessed with natural resources. The surrounding ocean…