Monday, February 27, 2006

Taiwan fooding

I know, I know, a long time coming.

We arrived in Taipei on Friday night and bypassing the hotel, we went straight to Shilin night market and the first thing we ate was the infamous chicken cutlet.

I definitely feel there was some "mochi" powder in the batter as the chicken was so juicy! The chicken is first marinated and then covered in batter and deep fried to perfection. Very juicy chicken with a light but crispy outer layer that was chewy yet yielding. The chicken sellers refuse to cut the chicken, saying it compromises its juiciness.... I love cooks who refuse to yield to customer demands in favor of the flavaaaaaaaah! We had alongside the chicken, some spicy dumplings and smelly tofu. Mmmmn, once you get hooked on the smelliness, you start craving it!

Anyhow, we moved onto other yumminess including some Tien Bu Lah (sweet not spicy) which were flat cakes of . chewy fishcake that were deep fried and served with a sweetish pink sauce with marinated sliced cucumbers. Yum yum, I could eat buckets of these...unfortunately there IS a difference between the good and the bad these ones were average at best. Along these we had some Oh Wa Szen (fried oysters in literal translation) which was a baby oyster pancake with some gooey stuff inside served with the same kind of sauce

We then moved on to one of my favorites and if you're week of tummy (you wusses), you might want to skip the next paragraph.

It was pig kidney soup in loads of alcohol and ginger. Lovely, spicy and with a kick, one of my faves.

Along with it, my parents ordered a serving of squid soup for the boy. A bit bland with large pieces of squid and bamboo shoots.

I caught my dad mesmerized by the sausages, of which he bought a small baggie full along with chopped large chunks or raw garlic (sweet and smoky tasting but I'm not one for sausage, much to my English boy's dismay). My dad wanted some noodles so left him with a plate of fried noodles (and the luggage) while we went exploring for other things, including Oh Wah Misua which was oyster in thin noodle thick soup. Odd sounding but yummy especially with the toppings of coriander, sprinklings of dark vinegar and sesame oil.

We were starting to slow down by now...and and in case you think we were even MORE gluttonous than we were, we shared everything. Ok, I conceed that that the chicken cutlet was huge but everything else was small appetizer sized portions.

Following that, we had to try to new thing at Shilin, grilled mochi! We tried three kinds. The first one was grilled soy mochi and the second was ?? mochi. The lovely cook gave us also a sample of sesame sweet mochi. They were delicious but I have to admit that the soy mochi was the best.

Finally, we ended with taro and peanut ice. Pressed taro root into ice and pressed peanut ice they were both mouthwateringly good but we couldn't finish. They were each so good that after you swallowed, you could savor the taste in your mouth before drooling for more.

So, in conclusion, come for the chicken and stay for the ice, my two favorites of the Shilin night market. DEFINITELY worth a visit.

PS. I'll post this now in case you want to check out my Flickr account but I'll post with pics later.

Friday, February 17, 2006

BIG food

This Scotch egg cracked me right up!

Bad pun, I know...

and just for my boy, his heart's desire!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Opportunity cost of lunch

I left the house this morning in a rush and upon appearing at work remembered that I had forgotten my lunch.

It was boxed mac and cheese with cauliflower and tuna added.

You can see why I'm gutted!

So I consoled myself with an old childhood comfort food:

Fish fillets with cream of corn on rice. Looks horrid but tasted ok, except for the rice, which was too dry. Good thing it came with lots of sauce.

But I did make chocolate covered apricots yesterday and they are delicious and a breeze to make. Why did I not think of this sooner? So easy and so good.....

and I had a cut up pear to wipe up the remaining chocolate with! Heaven....

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Road to hell...

All way back from my lunch buying trip, I had the intention of snapping a pic of one of my favorite (and frequent) lunches, the Spicy Ma noodles.

However, upon returning to the office and opening up the lid of my noodle bowl, it looked like....well, it looked pretty bad. Completely unphotogenic and unappetising. It may have been due to my choice of food items to be included, which included preserved veg, chicken and "Fu Pei", which literally translates into tofu skin. Fu Pei is actually like a thin yellow sheet of dried tofu that is used in some soups and dishes and I am particuarly fond of it in soup and soup noodles. However, it is rather delicate and has the tendency to "melt" into liquids (making it the key of one of my favorite dessert soups). So, it looked, if you excuse the language, like I had eaten a big bowl of chicken, veg and tofu noodles and thrown up in a bowl. So, you can understand why I didn't want to show you all a picture.

In anycase, I asked for Little Spicy 2. It goes from Little Spicy 5 to 1 (1 being the spiciest), Medium Spicy 5 to 1 and Very Spicy 5 to 1. Now, rumor has it that the very spiciest anyone has every seen ANYONE eat is the Medium Spicy 1. And that was unbearable (My boss had it once and he was a crying, sweating, red face and headed mess). The "spice" in this is Ma Lat, which uses Ma peppers and has a numbing effect on your mouth and tongue. Pleasant in small doses and very unpleasant in big ones (at least to me)

The noodles were delicious despite their unappetizing demeanor. And for the record, I only had to blow my nose through about 4 tissues!!

Friday, February 10, 2006

Rice Noodle Snakes

One of my favorite breakfasts which is fast becoming difficult to come by in the old style, is the "Chu Cheong Fun" or rice noodle rolls. Yes, it is still very common at dim sum restaurants where they are stuffed with shrimp or char siu (roast pork) and served simply with sweet soy sauce on top or "fried" with scallions and dried shirmp until they are slightly crispy on the outside but still soft and yielding on the inside.

But the chu cheong fun I remember are the ones sold in carts, with the cart owner, would cut the air with the scissors, making a "snip, snip" sound to attract customers. When you asked for your order, a plastic bowl (usually puke green, pepto bismol pink or shocking orange) would be whipped out and a square of wax paper smacked on top with a smear of oil (which, for ease of use, would be in a paint can and "painted" on with a paint brush).

Then, the scissors would be put to use. Depending on how much you wanted, they were sold according to lengths or snakes as I refer to them. Last time I bought from the cart, it was HK$1 for each snake. The cart owner would pull up the number of snakes you wanted, approximately the length of your forearm, and snip them into bite size pieces into the bowl. Then you decided what sauces you wanted. I want everything which means the sweet sauce (hoisin), sesame sauce (ma jeung), chili sauce and soy sauce. On top of the whole lot, sesame seeds would be sprinkled liberally and you were given a few toothpics to eat there or the lot would be thrown into a small plastic bag to take away.

I am lucky (or unlucky as I often think) to work in an industrial area of the city. Which means I have benefits such as cheap food, polluted air and no Starbucks. However, what we also have, is an abundance of old-school foods such as chu cheong fun. Quality ones as well. What I often buy for my breakfast is the chu cheong fun and "sui mai" combo. However, it is not the sui mai (shrimp dumplings) you get at dim sum, it is the poor man's version in that it looks like a sui mai but is actually a vaguely fishy tasting chewy bit of carbohydrate, kind of like a softer, chewier fishball...sounds strange but is oddly addictive. My set costs HK$7.5 and is good enough to last me until lunch.

And, as when I was a kid, I still unroll the rolls before eating. For some reason, it tastes better that way.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Lucky chocolate


Sometimes I wonder about my obsessive behavior. Since I've stumbled upon David Lebovitz's blog , I have been obsessing about chocolate. He's a chef who's living in Paris (!!) who wrote a book about chocolate (!!!!). Now the exclamations are for those who know me and who will know how incredibly excited I am... my two of my greatest passions combined in one blog!

Anyhow, it recommended the an article on chocolate entitled The Choco Luxe Guide from Departures magazine.

Uh oh.

I guess it doesn't take a genius to find out where most of my lai see money went....

Monday, February 06, 2006

Gym, Smym

I usually post about food. Ingestion of, love of.

However, after putting on a fair bit from Christmas, New Year's and Chinese New Year's, I thought I'd but some effort into losing some (only so I can eat more later..hehehehe).

I had it all planned out. Wake up at 6:20, get to gym at 6:25 (luckily there's a gym downstairs from my boyfriend's place), work out and then get back upstairs for shower and change and out the door by 8. Perfect. Shoes, gym wear and socks all laid out in readiness. I'm so proud.

Gets to the morning. I bound out of bed (ok so bound may be a *tiny* exaggeration) and am more or less on time. This was my morning workout:

6:25 - arrive at the gym, spend 5 mins fiddling with the tv to find a channel I want to watch and trying to see if I can turn down the air conditioning

6:30 - climb on running machine and try to start the damn thing

6:31 - damn thing starts, walk veeeeeeeery sloooooooowly for 5 minutes while trying to program the thing to the fat-busting program.

6:36 - still no joy and still walking like an old man.

6:40 - gym attendant arrives and I start harassing him to make the machine work.

6: 45 - machine works and attendant leaves - I try one programme on the lowest setting

6:50 - old man comes in and starts doing tai -chi routine

6:51 - I keep looking over my shoulder to see if the old man is intending to steal my phone and keys

6:55 - I try another programme and it tell me to strap on a chest band. What the hell is a chest band? Is it like a bra? Where do I get one? Get off machine, try to find one.

7:00 - no joy in finding chest band and try another setting

7:05 - feeling very groovy and walking very quickly now, try to get into it by pumping my arms. Accidentally hit the emergency stop button and everything ends. Old man snickers in the corner while continuing tai chi

7:06 - slink over to the biking machine and try to start at level 6 (goes from level 1 to 25 so I figure I'm safe)

7:08 - I want to die, it's so hard. I try level 3

7:10 - discover cool bars on the side for my hands to measure my hearbeat. I hold on. Oooh, it has little indentations for the thumbs. Think it's very cool.

7:11 - ARGH!!!!! Suddenly bike is so hard, I can't move my legs! I think its stuck and I broke it. I look down at my hands. The "indentations" are NOT for my thumbs but instead are to "increase" the level

7:15 - I give up. The old man has done a good 25 minute exercise and leaves. I look at my clock, realize I had been in the gym for 50 minutes and need a shower (despite obvious lack of sweat) and will be late for work.

50 minutes in the gym and total amount of exercise is less than 15 minutes.

I have burnt a whooping 15 calories, which is like what? A bite of apple?


The Cheetos Conspiracy

Partial account of an actual email I received from my roomate in Uni:

"Did you know that the guards for Saddam said that cheetos were his favorite food in jail? I read it in GQ magazine (accurate news source). they said that he would go crazy if they gave him froot loops cause he only liked crunchy raisin bran cereal and that he was totally addicted to cheetos and would eat a family size bag in one night. hahahaha I'm not saying that there's a personality-cheetos link or anything...I'm just saying!"


I can't BELIEVE the hand-holding slut just tried to link me with Saddam!