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! 🙂

Soy Milk at Home

July 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

In Taiwan, I can find fresh soy milk almost at every corner. It’s an essential part of traditional Taiwanese breakfast along with the duo shao bing (literally means baked bread) and you tiao (literally oil stick), which is major carb overload. Shao bing you tiao= donut sandwich. It’s not as weird as it sounds. It’s actually delicious! Occasionally, it’s a necessary evil, but I keep my love affair at a distance. I opt out of the you tiao and go for the shao bing with egg along with a refreshing cup of ice cold soy milk.

shao bing you tiao taken from blogger my inner fatty

Buying fresh soy milk in Taiwan is easy, but once you make your own, store-bought will never be as good. Homemade soy milk is delicious, cheap and easy to make. There are two things that take time: (1) soaking the beans over night and (2) steaming the beans. Most recipes don’t steam the beans, but I found that steaming them before blending brings out more flavor.

*Nutrients in 8 ounces (250 ml) of plain soymilk:

Regular Soymilk Lite Soymilk (reduced fat) Whole cow milk Fat-free cow milk
Calories (kcal) 90 70 149 83
Protein (g) 10.0 4.0 7.7 8.3
Fat (g) 4.0 2.0 8.0 0.2
Carbohydrate (g) 14.0 16.0 11.7 12.2
Lactose (g) 0.0 0.0 11.0 12.5
Sodium (mg) 120 100 105 103
Iron (mg) 1.8 0.6 0.07 0.07
Riboflavin (mg) 0.1 11.0 0.412 0.446
Calcium (mg) 80.0 80.0 276 299

*Soymilk on soyfoods.com; cow milk figures from USDA Nutrient Database. USDA soymilk data differs; apparently soy figures are sweetened.

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients:

Kitchen Tools:

To Make:

Step 1: rinse soy beans

Step 2: soak overnight or 8 hours minimum make sure beans are submerged

it’s natural to see bubbles

Step 3: steam for 30min-1 hour

make sure they’re soft and steamed thoroughly

Step 4: remove shells

It will be difficult to remove all the shells. It’s okay if some are left.

**Step 5: in VitaMix blend 1:3 measure of beans to water (~45 sec)

Step 6: dilute to desired consistency

Step 7: use strainer spoon to remove excess foam

Step 8: add sweetener if desired

**Note: I used a VitaMix, but if you use a regular blender the consistency will vary. If you want a smoother liquid, strain with cheesecloth after Step 5 and move directly to Step 8.

Enjoy!

in a glass

in a bowl

Helpful links for making soy milk

TSUJIRI Matcha Tea Desserts

July 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

TSUJIRI float (NT $150)

About TSUJIRI

This company was established in Taiwan last year and currently has three locations listed below. It utilizes matcha (Japanese green tea) in several forms through desserts and drinks. This brand is significantly more expensive than the average price of tea (~NT 30-50), but it’s worth splurging.

Review

I was browsing a food court (located at the basement of every department store) and TSUJIRI immediately drew my attention. A lot of people were waiting in line at a place that seemed to only sell one item, matcha. I was curious. There were a couple of tea shops within a few feet; why were people waiting in this line?

I got the TSUJIRI float with blended macha on the bottom, macha froyo and a scoop of red bean. I know this may not be everyone’s ideal dessert, but it was just what I needed. I understood why people were waiting in line and willing to pay 4x the price of a regular tea. It was delicious, full of flavor without being overly sweet. I can’t wait to go back! 🙂

Interesting facts about matcha (taken from matcha’s wiki page)

pure matcha from site

 

click to enlarge

 

 

 

 


 

 

Vegas Style Vegetarian Buffet

June 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Jen Dow Vegetarian Buffet Restaurant

This restaurant is more commonly known as Lian Xiang Zhai (连香斋) Vegetarian buffet, a Taipei specialty. Changchun Road, No. 353; 011-886-2-2547-4788.

They serve lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. I suggest going for lunch (NT 660 (roughly $23 USD).

If you are vegan, most foods in Taiwanese vegetarian restaurants are vegan including this one.

When my family first told me about LXZ I couldn’t believe it. It’s a vegetarian foodie’s dream; an all veg buffet featuring foods from around the world. What?!

I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I’ve been disappointed by many veg restaurants in my life. Would this be another Whole Foods heat lamp style weigh-your-food type place?

When I walked into LXZ it was a true experience like a condensed Vegas style buffet. It’s a welcoming place- bright lights, delicious foods and more variety than your stomach can handle.

Overview

Blue (2,3,5,10,11)- desserts and sweets

Light Blue (6)- cold foods

Yellow (1,7,9)- drinks

Red (4,8,12,13,15,16,17)- hot foods

White (14)- kitchen

 

My Map of LXZ

Brief Description of Each Section (1-17)

1- coffee and tea station (fresh ground coffee and asian style tea)

brew your own tea choose from flowers and tea leaves

2- Haagan-Dazs ice cream (8 flavors) and 5-6 platters of fresh fruit

3- traditional Chinese hot desserts (e.g. fresh almond puree)

4- noodle and wonton stand (made to order)

wonton soup

5- Japanese style handrolls (made to order)

6- salad bar

selection of lettuce and sprouts

7- mixed drinks (cocktail type drinks)

8- 15+ dishes of Chinese food (standard restaurant dishes)

9- bar with variety of American liquor (minimal fee req’d)

10- chocolate fondue fountain, 10+ varieties of cakes (1/2 were vegan)

11- puddings, cream puffs and jellies (vegan available)

12- fresh veggies (sautéed to order) and 3 rice cookers full of rice (rarely touched due to the plethora of food)

13- 15-20+ items of dim sum (all made fresh), 15+ items of standard restaurant food (fried rice etc.)

14- open kitchen

15- Italian style foods (pizza, made to order pasta); Japanese foods (sushi, ramen, miso soup, sashimi); 4 types of drinking vinegars

16- western soup stand (2 freshly made soups)

17- asian soup row ( 5-6 types of stews and soups)

Though I didn’t see all the veg foods from around the world like my mom advertised, it exceeded my expectations. All the foods were fresh and delicious.

It’s an amazing place! Every time I’m in Taiwan I make sure to come here at least once. It’s too good not to. There is no other place in the world that showcases and delivers this amount of variety, taste and quality that LXZ does.

If you are ever in Taiwan, it’s definitely a must!

 

Summer in Taiwan

June 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

I will be spending most of my summer in Taiwan. The weather is awful and will only worsen as the summer progresses. It’s sunny, 90 degrees with over 50% humidity everyday. So why visit? The food is amazing.

Taiwan is the little red dot next to China

Taiwan is located about 75 miles off the coast of mainland China. Its culinary influences come mostly from various parts of China, Japan and the natives of the island (to learn more about why). Because of its location and weather, it harvests the best tropical fruits. It also is home to the Les Masters de la Boulangerie (aka world cup of baking) 2010 Master Baker champion, Wu Pao-chun.

my favorite potstickers at a local food stand

Taiwan has roughly 23 million people with about 90% of its population following Buddhism or Daoism. I grew up in a strict Daoist family, which is why I was raised vegetarian. Though most people in Taiwan are not vegetarian, there seems to be a high percentage of people who are compared to the U.S. I’ve had the best and most varied vegetarian foods in Taiwan. For foodies, including vegetarians and vegans, it’s a culinary paradise.

fresh mango shaved ice

I will be traveling to multiple Asian countries this summer, but mostly remain in Taiwan. My posts will center on the accessibility and location of vegetarian foods along with any recipes I make.

Enjoy!

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