Turnip, Taro & Toon!

July 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

Turnip Cake


These photos are a sample of the amazing treats that my mom, aunt and uncle have made this week. I have so much to learn from them. I’m lucky to have access to all these fresh tasty treats. 🙂

 

This is homemade turnip cake topped with soy sauce, ginger and chili. Surprisingly no turnips, mostly radish. You can find this dish on the menus of dim sum restaurants, Taiwanese restaurants or in a package in an Asian supermarket. It’s composed of shredded radish, rice flour and some veggies. The texture will vary depending on how you prepare it. Restaurants typically slice and pan fry, we chose to steam then slice. The difference is like biting into a potato wedge versus a baked potato. If you’re in the mood for something with a crunchy coat, order it pan-fried. You won’t lose either way.

Note: I have not tried this recipe in the video and it’s not a veg recipe. I just included this video because it reminds me of my mom. 😀

 

Steamed Taro Bun

Steamed bun aka mantou is typically eaten for breakfast in China and Taiwan. In the U.S. you could find these in every Asian market because it is a staple. In Taiwan, aside from the market, you can find these at any major convenient store and breakfast stand. This is vegan and made with only flour, water, soymilk and taro. Taro is just one of many flavors that can be adapted.

My uncle started experimenting with different flavors last week and I’ve been eating mantou with almost every meal. I’m not complaining at all because these mantous are delicious! To me, a good mantou needs to be soft, chewy and fluffy and these definitely are. They’re perfect! Besides taro, typical flavors include plain and brown sugar. We experimented with dried cranberries- brown sugar- cranberry & flaxseeds- pumpkin.

Note: This is a similar process that my uncle used, but I have not tried the process in the video.

Chinese Bread aka bing

Chinese bread is more like a stuffed pizza or foccocia bread with all the toppings and spreads on the inside. A few weeks ago, I posted about toon a herb similar to cilantro or basil. It has a strong, distinct flavor and it’s one of my favorite herbs. We used the leaves and made it into a spread and kept it in the freezer. It can be used in noodles as a sauce, an ingredient to accompany a vegetable dish or in this case, between bread.

This was kneaded and baked on the stove in a lightly oiled pan. Ovens are almost non-existent in Chinese cooking so everything is done on the stove. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a video. But when I learn the process, I will be sure to post.

I hope you get a chance to try some of these delicious foods at least once. They’re too good not to! 🙂

Toona sinensis aka Chinese Toon or 香椿 xiang chun

June 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

I’m excited to introduce Chinese Toon. Before this post, I only knew this vegetable/herb by its Chinese name. I have never seen it sold or grown in the U.S. as pictured; only in its dried form and even that is rare. In fact, I didn’t even know what this looked like until a family friend gave us a batch from her garden. It was an exciting day. 🙂

Imagine growing up eating and loving cilantro, but not knowing its name or what it looked like. That’s how I feel about xiang chun.  It has a strong distinct flavor with a similar strength as garlic. It can be a great complement to a dish or overwhelming if you don’t like the taste (similar to onion or chives). I can eat it with everything!

It is predominately used in Asian cuisine, mainly Chinese. I have had it with tofu, eggs, stir-fries, noodles, rice and savory Chinese pancakes. All delicious!

To Prepare:

Step 1: fold the leaves in half and tear them off the branch from the stem (this will leave the root behind)

Step 2: after washing, mince leaves

Step 3: transfer to container, sprinkle salt to bring out juices, mix and seal (the true flavor of xiang chun will not come out till this step)

You can then save this for future use in tofu, stir-fries, noodles, fried rice or pancakes.

Next time you come across Toona sinensis aka Chinese Toon or 香椿 xiang chun, you’ll know how to use it or at least have a new dish to try at your favorite Chinese restaurant. Be sure to ask for it in its Chinese name, xiang chun. Here’s the wiki page to learn more.

Enjoy!

xiang chun with dried tofu (not dry in taste, rather tofu with much less moisture)

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