Brainless Butterfly Shrimp [recipe]

IMG_3808I used to not eat shrimp. Ever. Which is funny because I’m Cantonese and Chinese, and shrimp is a staple seafood of the cuisine. Growing up, going out to eat dim sum was a frequent family event on the weekends. We’d order xiā jiǎo (shrimp dumplings, a.k.a. har gow), and I’d peel out the shrimp filling, plop it on one of my parents’ plates, and only eat the starchy rice flour dumpling wrapper. My parents joke that I missed out on “the good stuff.”

seafoodIt wasn’t until our family took a trip to Hong Kong when I was nine years old that I began eating shrimp. There, we rode a ferry out to the tiny island of Cheung Chau, which is restricted to motor vehicles. I remember biking along the water front and seeing fisherman laying out their freshly-caught scallops and shrimp to dry in the sun. Our host simply walked up to one of those fisherman and purchased seafood. She only had to go a few feet away to a restaurant where she handed over the fish and shrimp. That shrimp was the juiciest, sweetest shrimp I have ever tasted and I have yet to experience shrimp that matches that standard. Continue reading “Brainless Butterfly Shrimp 

Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 2)

This is the second installment of my travels in Taiwan. For part one, go here.

Thinking back to the trip makes me realize on how I marked each day by what we ate. And, really, that wasn’t a bad decision because, if anything, that soupy noodle soup or that hot bread from the street vendor are worth talking about.

As we looped around the southern tip of the island and started driving back up north, we passed through an area where a lot of tropical fruit flourished.

We stopped along the way at a stand that sold a local variety of dried mango. I sampled the fresh mango, and it had a richer, more complex flavor than the varieties from the Philippines or Mexico that get imported to the U.S. This little road-side shop had many different dried fruits and little cakes (and lots of samples).

Pineapple fields, semi-reminiscent of a past visit to the Dole Pineapple fields in Hawaii

Continue reading “Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 2)”

Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 1)

This post chronicles what I ate on a recent trip to Taiwan. Hang on as I share some low-quality photos and high-quality memories. 

Moments after stepping the plane at approximately 5:34 a.m., we walked out to the curb where we were greeted by our driver in a white Mercedes van. After a 14-hour red-eye flight, we (I, my parents, two sisters and grandma) weren’t the perkiest version of ourselves. Sick of watery, tasteless airplane food, we craved something juicy and fresh.

We headed to an open-air fruit stand on the corner of a busy intersection. I could hear the blaring sound of traffic — bikes, mopeds, cars, and taxis.

 

Cherimoya fruit

 

Being on an island meant I got to try some fruits I’d never seen before because exotic fruits thrive in Taiwan’s tropical climate. One of them, cherimoya, tasted stringy and almost pungently sweet. We also ate wax apples a couple times, which, true to their name, are like a watered down version of apple — crisp but rather bland. We also tried mango, pineapple, and bananas, and the Taiwanese varieties proved to be sweeter (the mangoes and pineapple) and creamier (the bananas).

The first day, we headed into Taipei. As a highly populated city, Taipei boasts smoggy air, mad swarms of people riding mopeds, and lots of face mask-wearers. During our trip, we planned to get a survey of the island, starting from the northern part of the island, driving along the eastern coast to the southern tip and through the middle of the island back to Taipei’s in a week’s time. Therefore, every night we lived in a different hotel — the constant, on-the-g0 nature of our trip was exciting yet exhausting. Continue reading “Tasting My Way Through Taiwan (Part 1)”