Category Archives: Let’s Cook

Made in Taiwan: Pork Rillettes

Homemade pork rillettes, by yours truly. (@taiwanvore)
Homemade pork rillettes, by yours truly. (@taiwanvore)
[Lire l’article à la sauce française]

Starting March, France will once again be allowed to export pork and pork based products to Taiwan, a news all charcuterie lovers can rejoice from, though I’m curious to see what will really end up landing on the shelves at Carrefour and RT-Mart. In the meantime, I thought I’d try my hands at making some pork rillettes. Continue reading Made in Taiwan: Pork Rillettes

Made in Taiwan: Japanese-style Potato Salad

Japanese-style potato salad by @taiwanvore

I recently got around to reading the Japanese Farm Food, a cookbook mémoir, from Nancy Singleton Hachisu. In addition to running an English school, the author is also actively involved with Slow Food Japan, so I was looking forward to discovering her Japanese terroir. In the end, I didn’t jot down as many recipes as I’d hoped, mostly because some key ingredients can be challenging to find in Taiwan, or simply because I don’t have the logistics (yet) to carry out some of her recipes. For sure, I envy her country home kitchen, but for now, my minimal Taiwanese kitchen will do just fine.

One of the recipes that made the cut happened to be the Japanese-syle potato salad. The recipe didn’t look too daunting and the ingredients simple to get. Fortunately, the potato season is upon us, here in Taiwan. Continue reading Made in Taiwan: Japanese-style Potato Salad

宵夜: Quick & Dirty Chocolate Mug Cake

Chocolate Mug Cake by Lori Ann,

Every once in a while, I crave some chocolate cake. Obviously, this always occurs late at night when all the places selling a decent chocolate cake are closed.

A while back, I read about a so-called microwave chocolate mug cake. Baking with a microwave?! Gross, I thought. But well, this is Taiwan, most kitchens do not have ovens, which also happens to be my case, and so after many years without a microwave, I get to re-discover all of its joys and wonders, yay! Continue reading. (aussi en français)

Taïwan Flavor Combination (à la Tim Ferriss)

Cheat sheet to cook any kind of ethnical cuisine.
Cheat sheet to cook any kind of ethnical cuisine, from The 4-Hour CHEF.

I was flipping through “The 4-Hour CHEF” by Tim Ferriss the other day, a book with an overwhelming amount of information to learn how to cook, and paused on page 148. That section titled “Around the World in 44 Flavor Combinations” is a smart cheat sheet, or call it hacks to sound more hip, listing types of cuisine, and their key ingredients.

For China, Tim Ferriss has listed tamari, rice wine and ginger. Looking at regional Chinese cuisine, Beijing is represented by miso and/or garlic and/or sesame; Szechuan is sweet, sour and hot, though I’m tempted to add tingly; Canton keeps it simple with black beans and garlic. Now, of course, the question is, what is the flavor combination for Taïwan?

After giving it some thought, I have boiled it down to four components: soy sauce 醬油, rice wine 米酒 and the twins black and white sesame oil 麻油/香油. I am particularly fan of the soy sauce and rice wine duo.

Here’s my lazy way to cook Taiwanese at home, take some vegetables and/or meat, cook those first with some oil, when those ingredients are about ready, put a splash of rice wine, followed closely by a more generous amount of soy sauce. The wok should be hot enough that the liquids will sizzle and steam up, add a little a water if needed. The resulting sauce will nicely coat  all your bits and pieces, and you’ll just a need a bowl of rice to go along with it.
As a way to jazz up your rice and not waste the leftover sauce in the wok after spooning out the content, put some white rice in it, a bowl is enough, and stir around so that each grain comes in contact with remnants particules of the sauce. It is so simple, but nicely seasons the rice, add an egg, some greens, and you get yourself a complete all-in-one-bowl dish.

soy sauce 醬油, rice wine 米酒, black sesame oil 麻油, white sesame oil 香油
soy sauce 醬油, rice wine 米酒, black sesame oil 麻油, white sesame oil 香油

A myriad of brands exist for those ingredients.
For the soy sauce, I am not too picky and just make sure that it is a Taiwanese brand, or that it is made in Taiwan to be sure it has the taste it’s suppose to have. At one point, I had four different kinds of soy sauce in my kitchen pantry, each with its own usage, so definitely be careful when buying soy sauce, or risk creating a dish that won’t taste as expected.
I’ve seen many restaurants use that red labelled bottle of rice wine, and have followed their example by picking up that same brand myself. At the supermarket, rice wine for cooking is located with the vinegars and other condiments area, and not with the alcoholic beverages. However, I don’t recall seeing it abroad, or most likely, another brand is exported.
Choices in sesame oils is more restrained but there’s still a variety of brands to choose from. While searching for this article, I stumbled upon Shunfa 順發 which appears to make high-quality sesame oils as well as other kinds such as tea, flax or peanut oils. I definitely should be cooking more with sesame oil, with its strong aroma that can enhance any dish.

How about you? Do you agree with my Taiwanese flavor combinations? What ingredients would you choose? Food in Taiwan can be quite eclectic, and each individual has its own experience, so I’m quite curious about other people’s opinion on this subject. 🙂