Foodie Friday: Taiwanese Meatball

Taiwanese meatball (ba wan): steamed gelatinous dumpling My husband loves these meatballs, but I still think they're an acquired taste. They have a savory filling (usually of pork, bamboo, and mushrooms) that's wrapped in a steamed outer shell. Unlike the firm texture of wonton skins, the outer covering yields a gooey texture (because it's made from sweet potato and rice flour). Think: mochi, but with a saltier inside. The meatballs are quite big, larger than their Italian counterparts, … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Pork Belly Bun

Pork belly bun: steamed bun with slices of pork belly I've long been a fan of Peking duck--with the American version of wrappers. I don't like those authentic thin crepes that come with the dish. Instead, I enjoy soft steamed buns for holding my fixings. And what's not to love about a pork belly bun? I mean, the ingredients for an authentic Taiwanese bun are: Steamed bun (moist bread--mantou, which you can buy frozen from the Asian market and steam at your own leisure) Pork belly (gua … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Oyster Omelet

Oyster omelet: gooey egg concoction with oysters and savory sauce I like omelets. I'm a big fan of the incredible edible egg. Oyster omelets are another species entirely. They've got some eggs thrown in, but a good chunk of the mixture is sweet potato starch or tapioca starch. The texture turns out to be very chewy and gooey. Add some slippery oysters in, and the sliminess is not my typical preference. (I still have never been able to slurp down raw oysters.) The savory sauce … [Read more...]

Ribbon Dancing

"On earth no feast lasts forever." -Chinese proverb But sometimes you wish it could. Over the weekend, there was a Taiwanese American Heritage Week festival. (Taiwanese American Heritage Week starts every Mother's Day weekend in most major cities.) The L.A. one featured folk dance, aboriginal music, Taiwanese food, and more. As a child, I loved seeing performances of the ribbon dance. Women would sway to traditional music, making the swirls of ribbon fly into the air. Originating in the Han … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Popcorn Chicken

Popcorn chicken: battered pieces of chicken, with Asian spices         Looking for something to share with your sweetheart? Delight your tastebuds with some bite-sized, crunchy goodness. Typically sold at vendor stalls in Asia, this is not your typical KFC chicken. The recipe uses a simple mix of flavorful additions, including Chinese five-spice powder. Sometimes basil is sprinkled over the dish for a delish garnish. If you're not interested in making … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Pork Sung Bun

Pork sung bun: bread that's coated with a layer of shredded, dry pork Pork sung is known by names like "meat wool" or "meat floss." It comes in distinctive fibers, like cotton candy for meat lovers. The pork melts in your mouth, providing an addictive salty/meaty taste. (There are also other varieties which use fish or beef.) Pork sung is made by stewing pork in a soy sauce mixture and then pulling apart the meat strands. Later, it is dried by heating in an oven and frying over a large … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Hot Pot

Hot pot: steamed veggies and meats in a boiling broth It's our tradition to hold a Christmas pot luck each year. What's easier than cutting up vegetables and meats to place in boiling broth? A complex soup base can be purchased or a plain stock (simple vegetable, chicken, etc.) used . The hot pot sits on a burner, and you want it set at the highest setting to make it bubbling before you throw in the food to cook. The bowl I use is divided into two sections; I use the smaller circle for … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Taiwan Toast

Taiwan toast: sliced bread, with your choice of topping Imagine the fluffiest, whitest bread you can find--and that's Taiwan toast. It boasts a thick, square form that's extremely soft (even the crusts melt in your mouth). True to its name, you pop it into the toaster to get it the proper crispy golden brown. Then the spread goes on top, things like Nutella, peanut butter, or anything your heart desires. In fact, it has been elevated into an art form of a dessert. I tried this kind at a local … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Fish-Shaped Pancakes

Fish-shaped pancakes: traditionally known as taiyaki, and filled with sweet red bean paste I remember visiting night markets in Taiwan and getting these amazing pancakes. They come in all sorts of shapes, but different types of animals were the most popular ones. (In fact, I enjoyed the experience so much that I referenced it in my novel.) In the United States, you can buy your own waffle maker--or pancake maker (see a Hello Kitty machine here). The fish-shaped pans can be bought at … [Read more...]

Foodie Friday: Xiao Long Bao

Xiao Long Bao: Chinese soup dumplings a.k.a. "exploding meatball dumplings" This is what my brother called them when I first tried the dumplings, and the nickname's stuck in my head. It's true, too. If you pop the whole thing in your mouth, the soup underneath the skin sprays right out and scalds your throat. Over the years, I've acquired the proper skill to eat xiao long bao. You need to hold the dumpling over a spoon, bite a small piece of it, suck out the juice, and then eat. For … [Read more...]