Monday, October 5, 2009

Mastering Taiwanese with Chef A-Chi

Those of you following my blog know that I have been watching Chef A-Chi (the head Chinese chef at my aunt's hotel) on his cooking shows on Youtube. I made it over to Chinese bookstore last month and bought his new cookbook from the TV show. This is the book David and I looked through the book and picked out a few dishes to experiment with.
The first dish is bitter melon with pork in black bean sauce. This was David's first time working with bitter melon. It came out very nice though a tad bit salty without steamed rice. It is less saucy than I usually do on my own but I like it better.
I've wanting to make oyster mee sua for a while. I made my own attempt which wasn't very good at all. Last time I used fresh oysters that come in the jars at the seafood counter. But they are so big and mealy that it ruins the effect of the dish. This time I used frozen small ones. Even though frozen is usually not as good as fresh, the trade-off of having a brinier and better mouth feel was well worth it.
So the basic instructions goes like this:
You boil the mee sua and rinse out the noodles to get rid of residuals. In another pot, add a handful of bonito flakes or shavings, fried shallots, chopped garlic, a bit of soy, a bit of rice wine and bring to boil. Add in the noodles. Then, slowly add in yam flour slurry. Make sure to use chopsticks to blend as you add for evenness. Coat the oysters in dry yam flour. Add in the coated oysters to the soup. Cook briefly til the oysters are done. Make a condiment of black vinegar, crushed garlic, and chili oil and add to soup as desired. Garnish with cilantro.
When I had this oyster mee sua, I was elated! Finally, a authentic tasting version that can quell my cravings.
The last dish, unfortunately we don't have a separate photo of it nor of its cooking process. It's the egg with garlic sauce on the right below. The cooking of the egg process is awesome. You add a tiny bit of tapioca starch slurry to the egg mixture and it puffs up during frying like a souffle. The result is a golden puffy cloud. The outside a a tiny bit crisp and the inside is meltingly smooth and soft. Truly amazing.

The meal wasn't necessarily a good combo of dishes with each other - the bitter melon and the egg dish really needed to go with rice instead and the oyster mee sua stands on its own. But man, what a lovely experiment. We are getting close to never stepping foot in a Bay Area Taiwanese restaurant again.

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