Sunday, January 13, 2008

A banana in Taiwan

Oh man, I was not looking forward to this working trip. Usually I'd be full of glee, having the chance to be away from gruelling days stuck facing 4 walls but
7 days in a Mandarin speaking land + me, a Chinese who cannot even utter a single word of Mandarin except Ni hao and Xie xie = tremendous, unspeakable boredom.
Now that its over and I'm back in good old Msia, i think it was actually a pretty enjoyable trip. My coliks, the suppliers, the presentation of new products were exciting! And I picked up plenty of Mandarin words heh!
Anyway, as with all of my posts, the topic is on FOOD! First up, we made a trip to Miao Li, and had lunch. And it was full of l-e-m-o-n-g-r-a-s-s. For me, being a product person, lemongrass always equals insect repellant. Blurghh. Lemongrass is not a herb that's commonly used in Taiwanese cooking but this supplier had a thing for it.

Lemongrass juice. I felt I was downing a bottle of insect repellant. My coliks loved it though - said it was very refreshing.

Next was better, a plateful of colourful fresh taufus, vegetables, fishballs and meatballs. Taiwanese seem to love freshly cut capsicums.

There was a special sauce prepared to go with the steamboat. Yeap. Its blended lemongrass leaves with a dark sauce. Hmmm this was ok.

You wouldnt be able to guess what this is.

Salt baked fish! And true to the day's theme, it was stuffed with lemongrass! Arrrgghhhhhh

Taiwanese food is always packed beautifully. We had packed lunch boxes on one of the days. They use coloured rubber bands and tied them around the boxes to form patterns.

Woo hoo! not like our regular economy rice pack eh? Pan fried salmon and roasted chicken drumstick, tempura sweet potato and a big juicy prawn... mm mmm. Lots of colourful side dishes too :)

On one of the nights, we went to a shop that was famous in Tainan. For cooking minced meat in a pot that is n-e-v-e-r washed. See the man scooping from that pot over there?

ewwww... I'm not sure what the speciality is but i gather from the conversation that the pot will keep the fragrance of the meat and the dish gets tastier the longer the pot is used.

This is the bowl of noodles with meat from the old unwashed pot. Till date, that pot has held out for 5 years without a wash.

The helpings are small too and people would usually order several bowls. As the Chinese say, One bowl, one mouthful.

There were other pretty unique dishes in this shop too. These are slices of fish eggs served with cuts of white radish. The fish eggs were tasty and pretty strong but it was balanced by the slight bitter taste of the radish.

Slices of fish skin. Another unique Taiwanese dish. Deliciously smooth and went well with the sweet dark sauce.

They also served it in soup with ginger .. yummy.. light and refreshing.

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