Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Seaweed Noodles for Lunch

Lately, Taiwan has been on a health food craze. People are demanding fresher, higher quality food (even organic!)
This lady is an organic farmer. Her dog is named mochi, like the popular gummy rice cakes. Quick lesson on organic farming: growing vegetables without chemicals is hard if all your surrounding neighbors use some sort of chemicals. The water carries it from one plot to the other. Organic farming is basically doing things like people in the old days used to do (that's how people do it in Taiwan normally anyway), except people make TONS more money doing it now than they did before.

The noodle shop we went to for lunch was once such health place. This guy handmakes ALL of the noodles consumed in his shop, and let me tell you, there was a LINE at lunch time.
He measures out the proper amount for one serving...
...about this much.
They take it back in the kitchen and do magical things to the noodles so they taste just al dente enough, but not tough or chewy. By magical things I mean cook the noodle, mix it with some boiled bean sprouts, add one fish ball, and pour some spicy sesame sauce over it. SO good. I can't put in words just how fresh and cool the mouth feel was.
Before the noodle was this soup. It's simple: cook a mixture of land and sea leafy vegetation in a fruit juice/vegetable stock. As long as you have the flavors right, even such a "cheap" to make dish can be amazing in flavor.
Interesting vegetable. I don't believe I've ever seen it in America before. One suspects that it comes from the ocean, or someplace in the vicinity of the ocean. Taste-wise, it wasn't that great; but it does get a 9.2 in the category of "exotic vegetation".
If it weren't so hot in Taiwan, I would have gotten the nio ro mien (beef noodles) too. It is just as it is named: chunks of beef in a salty beef broth.
The equivalent of a roast beef in Chinese cuisine: tons of onions mixed in with beef over rice.

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