Taiwan

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, is an island of approximately 36,000 square kilometers.  It is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with 649 people per km2.  The island was given the name “Formosa” (meaning “beautiful”) by the Portuguese in the 16th century.  The political situation of Taiwan is still up in the air and the question remains as to whether it should stay independent as territory of the Republic of China (ROC); become unified with the territories now governed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) or formally declare independence and become the Republic of Taiwan.  In July 2009 the leaders of China and Taiwan exchanged direct messages for the first time in more than 60 years, albeit in their respective party functions, and not as national leaders.  In June 2010, the two countries signed an historic trade pact that was described by some analysts as the most significant agreement in 60 years of separation.

 

Taiwan blends scenic mountains, hidden waterfalls, historic temples and technology driven skyscrapers.  The five famous tourist magnets outside Taipei are the Taroko Gorge, Alishan (mountain resort), Sun Moon Lake, Lukang (urban township) and Kenting (national park known for its white-sand beaches, caves, coral reefs & northern mountains).  Taipei is Asia’s 2nd most richest city and features the 3rd tallest building in the world, the Taipei 101 tower.

 

Popular ingredients in Taiwanese cuisine are pork, seafood, chicken, rice & soy.  Some of the recipes I came across include Pork chops with noodle soup , Bah-Tzang (Taiwanese rice dumpling), Gu Bah Mi (beef noodle soup) and Cuttlefish geng (soup).  Chou Doufu ‘stinky tofu’ which is marinated in brine made from decomposing vegetables and shrimps wasn’t high of my choices to cook but is a popular street food.  I opted to cook Ló͘-bah-pn̄g (minced pork rice), which we thoroughly enjoyed.

 

Rating 10/10

 

Serves 3-4
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 45 mins

 

1 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 tbsp oil
500g organic minced pork
4 tbsp white wine
60ml soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar or honey
2 cups water
1 tsp black pepper
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 tsp five spice powder
salt to taste
2 spring onions

 

Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium heat with 1 tbsp of the oil.
Once the oil is hot add the shallots and fry until they turn light golden in color – about 5 minutes.
Remove the shallots from the pan, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.
In the same skillet add the remaining oil and the minced pork on a high heat.
Break up the mince and stir until the pork starts to brown.
Add the wine, soy sauce, sugar or honey, water, pepper, star anise, bay leaf, and five spice.
Stir to combine, bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a low heat.
Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
While the pork is simmering, take the fried shallots and crush them with a mortar and pestle to a paste or blend them in a mini mixer.
After the pork has simmered for 30 minutes, stir in the crushed shallots and let everything simmer for another 10 minutes.
Salt to taste.
Remove from the heat, garnish with sliced spring onions and serve over boiled rice.
IMG_8464
Ingredients for Taiwanese minced pork

In the same skillet add the remaining oil and the minced pork on a high heat.
Break up the mince and stir until the pork starts to brown.
Add the wine, soy sauce, sugar or honey, water, pepper, star anise, bay leaf, and five spice.
Stir to combine, bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a low heat.
Cover and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
While the pork is simmering, take the fried shallots and crush them with a mortar and pestle to a paste or blend them in a mini mixer.
After the pork has simmered for 30 minutes, stir in the crushed shallots and let everything simmer for another 10 minutes.
Salt to taste.
Remove from the heat, garnish with sliced spring onions and serve over boiled rice.

IMG_8471
Taiwanese minced pork
taiwan-654398_1280
Taiwan

img_84881

Ló͘-bah-pn̄g (minced pork rice)

 

taiwan-553521_1280
Taiwanese monk

 

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