Sauteed garlic and anchovies mixed with steamed eggplants and pasta. My intense love for the strange aroma of Chinese chives lead me to dump a whole bunch of them, raw, on top of my creation. Raw Chinese chives are also a great topping for abura-soba and other Japanese maze-men dishes.
Tag Archives: chinese
The only thing more comforting than hot and sour soup is hot and sour soup noodles. Since the soup only requires dumping in chicken stock, cooking wine and soy sauce in a pan with ingredients, and finishing it up with white pepper, cornstarch mixed with a bit of water, and black vinegar, its an ideal dish to make when your head is pounding with residual beer from last night.
In this version, in lieu of the traditional ingredients, I dumped in any mushroom I can find in my house. Dried wood ear, dried shiitake, enoki, and whatever else was rolling around in my crisper drawer. Stuck a heap of homemade chili oil on top.
It was glorious.
Taiwan maze-men has nothing to do with Taiwan. It’s a dish that came from Nagoya, the Japanese equivalent of a midwestern city, a middle child living in the shadows of Tokyo and Osaka. However, there are numerous strange culinary inventions that originated in that city, such as the cutlet doused in miso sauce, or Japanese style spiced wings. Taiwan maze-men is not the best known of Nagoya foods, but it’s still a highly popular dish.
Maze-men is a direct translation of the Chinese ban-mian, soupless noodles that are meant to be mixed before being eaten. Taiwan maze-men consists of thick noodles, onion or garlic oil, spicy sauteed ground pork, shredded nori, and chopped Chinese chives, and an uncooked egg yolk on top.
I didn’t have any chives, so I topped it with some thinly sliced cabbage. Not the best substitute, but it’ll provide some crunch. I had some doubts about the freshness of my eggs, so I threw them in a 140f hot water for 45 minutes, so that they would come out soft-cooked. The eggy parts are essential to this dish.
The spicy pork I made by sauteeing doubanjian (Chinese spicy chili bean) with garlic until the oil turned red, and then threw in some soy sauce, sugar and sake. The ground pork is the main salty element in this dish, so season heavily.
If you have the ground pork, noodles, and the egg yolk, I think you got the most essential parts covered. This sum of this dish is much, much greater than its parts. It becomes this eggy, spicy, porky mass when it’s mixed.
Usually, being time constrained leads me to make something that tastes like crap, but this time the dish worked. This dish turned out pretty amazing. The seaweed element is essential for this dish, and you can use either the Chinese dried seaweed that comes in big, round slabs, or just shred some nori, which is what I did.
So to make this dish, you fry up some chili bean paste (doubanjian, 豆板醤), garlic, ginger in oil until the oil turns red. Put in ground pork and mix it up with the chili bean paste. Once the pork changes color, pour in chicken broth, wait until it’s boiling, and add some cooking wine, soy sauce, and sugar. Once the noodles are boiled and ready, throw in the seaweed, pour everything over, and garnish with green onions.
One of the key points is to use very little broth, less than 200cc per person. This makes for a small amount of intensely flavored broth, rather than a lot of bland liquid.
The crappy thing about traveling and taking pictures are that there’s a crapload of pictures that you end up with, unless you’re one of those diligent people who can label and organize stuff while traveling. Well, I didn’t, and I ended up with a ton of pictures of food, and very little memory of what I actually ate. The following are some of the stuff that I actually remember, and hence are literally the “memorable meals” of this trip:
Papaya milk from a fruit stand in Taiwan. It’s beauty is a product of simplicity and restraint that is lost when you throw in a bunch of other fruits and vegetables and call it a “smoothie.”
Grilled pope’s nose from a yakitori place in Taipei. The wonderful thing about Taiwan bbq skewers places are that they have the pope’s nose on the menu. It’s the triangle tail thing that hangs above the chicken’s ass when you buy it whole. So what you see in the picture is about 8 chickens worth. If you think the thigh’s juicy and decadently fatty, you should try this part of the chicken.
A pot of crawfish in a Beijing department store food court. I just wandered in a department store, I don’t recall the name, and I knew I needed to order this dish when I saw another customer eating it. In the course of my meal, about three other groups of people stopped by to look at what I was eating, and ended up ordering the same thing.
The dish tasted wonderful with a large amount of sichuan peppercorns and dried hot peppers. My hands were bruised and cut halfway through, but I kept tearing in, leaving empty crawfish shells as I went.
BBQ duck from Yat Lok in Hong Kong. This joint and their duck has been thoroughly explored by other people. I just want to mention the helplessness you feel when you find out that they charge you for tissues (which I know now is customary in Hong Kong) midway through eating your BBQ duck. The sauce clings to your beard like nothing else.
Oyster noodle soup at a food stand in Chiayi. Rich but refreshing with a splash of black vinegar. The joy you feel when you fish out a bit of pig offal or a small bit of oyster.
Scallion pancakes near the Yilan night market. Juggling the pancake between your hands to keep you from burning, and taking bites in between because with the crunchiness and the smell of cooked green onions, waiting it to cool down is not an option.
Stinky tofu soup, in a place near Taipei known for their stinky tofu. It’s quite stinky. Smells and taste like sewage, and I still cannot figure out why I enjoy that taste so much.
Ma-la hotpot style stewed stuff (oden) from Family Mart. Who knew that MSG laden, artificial flavoring laced (probably) ma-la tasted so good. I wish convenience store food in North America tasted this good. Gas stations serving good food (such as Oklahoma Joe’s in KC, or fried chicken from Quick Pack Food Mart in Seattle) shouldn’t be the exception, it should be the norm.
So that was the wonderful trip where I got to eat food that I didn’t make myself. Now I am back in Vancouver, to my mundane existence where most of the food I eat was tossed by my hands in my wok.
Throw mature hen in pressure cooker for 1.5 hours (after cleaning and quick parboil). Set aside 200-300ml for torisoba. Season soup with rice wine (or Shiaoxing wine), a dribble of soy sauce, and salt. You can soak some kelp in there for some added glutamate umami. Blanche some Asian greens, shred meat from hen, and throw everything together with some very thin ramen noodles (or egg noodles, or thin wheat (like sômen) noodles). Add a drizzle of sesame oil.
Stare into the clear, golden broth and slurp.
Amazing recipe from Serious Eat’s J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. Reading Fuchsia Dunlop’s books made me realize how versatile this sauce (that I originally associated only with dan dan mien) is, and I’ve been making it in large batches. I’m fantasizing with making these again, but using pepper leaves. I haven’t encountered pepper leaves until I came to Vancouver, but they are insanely versatile and has a light peppery aroma. I’ve been using them mostly in miso soups with tofu and stir-fries, but blanched and mixed in with noodles would be a great way to eat them too.