Trying to eat something delicious, each and every day.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Liang Mian

Another scorcher in SF today. September is our only real summer up here.

I tried a new recipe today so we could beat the heat during dinner. The recipe needs tweaking to match that of my favorite Taiwanese cold noodle (liang mien) restaurants, but this is pretty good:

  • 4 tablespoons sesame paste
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon peanut butter
  • chili oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced extremely finely or pushed through a garlic press

  • 1/2 pound Chinese egg noodles
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced
  • 1/2 carrot, sliced
  • 1/2 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 2 eggs
Mix all the sauce ingredients together except for the chili oil and garlic. Shake well and set aside.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles per package instructions. When they're cooked, strain and rinse them in cold water or submerge them in iced water until they're cold.

While the noodles are cooking, shred your chicken. You can boil the chicken breast, or use a handful of leftover roast chicken. Then make your egg pancake. Beat two eggs, then pour them into a nonstick pan, scramble everything around a little, spread it back out in a layer, and cover with a lid until the egg is cooked through in one thin sheet. Carefully fold the egg into thirds so it's easier to slide onto a cutting board, then let it cool and slice thin.

Slice the vegetables. Make sure you slice them instead of running them through a grater. Unless I'm going to put the vegetables in a batter (like for carrot cake), I really hate eating grated vegetables. The edges are all rough and it makes vegetables taste like scraps, like you're eating the garbage someone left after she finished cooking. And because the vegetables aren't cleanly sliced, they lose their crispness and they sometimes bleed their color into the dish. Ew.

When everything's done, assemble the noodles and vegetables as you see above, then drizzle the dish with sauce, a small dab of ground garlic, and chili oil. Everyone mixes up his own bowl before eating.

In case you can't tell, I'm having a hard time letting go of summer. I brought a little bit of the tropics to us today by cracking open a young coconut to eat as our side dish. Eat plants and raw foods every day, right?

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Savory Soy Milk

This is a weird one, and perhaps an acquired taste, but it's one of my childhood favorites. People who don't like it describe it as curdled soy milk, but if you think about it it's really just a variation on tofu soup.

For a big meal for one, or a side of soup each for two people:

  • 2 cups unsweetened soy milk (fresh if you can find it)
  • 1-2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Taiwanese black vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped green onions
  • 1 teaspoon dried shredded pork
  • a few drops chili oil
Head soy milk over medium heat until just below boil. Take it off the flame and whisk in one tablespoon of rice wine vinegar. Whisk well as the soy milk starts to curdle, then add salt and/or more vinegar to taste. Pour into a bowl or bowls, then top each bowl with black vinegar, cilantro, green onions, shredded pork, and several drops of chili oil.

To me, this soup has a tangy flavor akin to that of hot and sour soup in flavor, but much easier to make and lighter as well. And now that I think of it, it's a little like Greek avoglemono (lemon and pasta) soup as well. Some people don't like restaurant versions because they can be a mush of flavors swimming in an overly sour pool of soy sauce, but if you make it at home you can control that and make quite a tasty dish.

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Taiwanese Gua Bao

Ah, dinner. My reward for a day's hard work. Today was one of those days when I didn't really leave the kitchen because there were just too many things I wanted to make. Stay tuned tomorrow for more deliciousness, but here are some resutls for now.

Braised pork belly with green onions. This is a classic home style dish. Pork belly is braised with ginger, garlic, anise, pepper, soy sauce, rice wine, salt, and pepper.

Then I tried my hand at man tou. I gotta say, I am pretty impressed with myself. Maybe it was because I'd just practiced working with bread earlier today with the pita, but i managed to keep the dough really moist, resulting in an extremely soft and fluffy bread.

An interior shot. It was so light and airy!

Some of the dough I shaped into sandwiches instead of buns, and used to make gua bao, one of my favorite Taiwanest street food items. I'm missing the peanut powder, but I have the braised pork and cilantro on a soft bun!


Sunday, June 07, 2009

Taiwanese Snacks

Last week my sister brought me a bunch of Taiwanese cookbooks I'd left in Los Angeles. This weekend, J and I tackled one of the most popular Taiwanese dishes of all time: oyster noodles (oh ah mee sua). Traditionally, you get the choice of having this dish with pigs' intestines and oysters, or just intestines. As (bad) luck would have it, we couldn't find any appropriate oysters at 99 Ranch this weekend and had to go for just intestines.

The result was not bad, but could use a lot of work. Next time we're going to do a few things differently to increase the depth of flavor and really pump up this dish. But in terms of basic texture and flavor, we did everything right. I'd even say we did better than most Taiwanese restaurants in the United States.

And what is a Taiwanese dinner without some kind of dessert in soup form? Today we did mung beans and glutinous rice balls in soup flavored with caramelized sugar (sugar cooked until it's amber). The best thing to use is Taiwanese "black" sugar, but alas we don't get that here in the States. But golden syrup is a lovely substitute and adds a bit more richness and flavor to desserts than plain white sugar.

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