I started this blog in 2012 in response to a challenge from a young relative. My original intent was to learn about blogging but over the years, this blog has evolved to become a repository of favorite family recipes. It became a useful reference for my children who went away to college and wanted to learn how to make homestyle Cantonese soups like Grandma’s Chicken Soup or quick stir fries like Beef with Oyster Sauce which they had grown up eating.
Due to my husband’s job relocations, I had the privilege of living in several Asian cities – from the cosmopolitan city state of Singapore (great infrastructure, efficiency, lots of western conveniences and easy availability of cooking ingredients and sauces familar to the American cook), bustling Hong Kong (fast-paced lifestyle and supermarkets are well-stocked with both Asian and western groceries but one has to cope with tiny apartments with miniscule kitchens) and lovely Taiwan (friendly people and trendy cafe culture but it can be a challenge to find baking ingredients and western sauces).
In Hong Kong, for about a year we lived in very small apartment and the tiny kitchen had just one hob (meaning I could cook ONLY one dish at a time. As you know, a typical Cantonese meal consists of several dishes (a stir fried meat or fish dish, a stir fried vegetable dish, a slow-cooked soup and rice) – a single hob meant that multi-tasking or complicated recipes didn’t work very well for someone with time contraints as each dish had to be cooked one after another in a sequential order!) …. that, in turn, gave rise to my inspiration to blog about the kinds of quick and easy Chinese meals I could make.
My cooking is often influenced by where I live. I enjoy going to the local markets and I try to cook with whatever produce and herbs I find there.
Our latest move has taken us to Taipei, Taiwan. My ancestors are Cantonese and I am more familiar with Hong Kong home cooking. Even though Taipei is a city that is predominantly made up of Chinese people, they mainly originate from the Minnan (Fujian) or Hakka regions of China, and I was not familiar with Taiwan’s cuisines when I first moved there. It came as a pleasant surprise that Taiwan boasts of a well-developed agricultural industry. Over the past decade, Taiwan’s food scientists and farmers have made great strides in developing modern farming methods using renewable energy sources that enabled the country to produce in great abundance amazingly fresh and beautiful fruits and vegetables all year round – some of which I had never seen before in Hong Kong or Singapore. The street markets and supermarkets brim with a wide variety of produce – fish, meat, nuts, locally grown spices and condiments. It is a cook’s paradise. I delight in taking full advantage of seasonal fruits like bright orange-colored crisp persimmons, crunchy apple-green jujubes in winter, fragrant “water honey” peaches, pineapples dripping with sweet goodness, juicy, freshly picked laichees with stems and green leaves still attached, huge bright red strawberries in the summer and my all-time favorites “high mountain grown” cabbages and freshly cut snow-white bamboo shoots in the winter. Premium meats like pork from “black-hair” pigs (otherwise known as Kurobuta pork – it’s like the Waygu of the pork world), flavorful free range chickens, fresh seafood and a full range of inexpensive organic produce are readily available.
This blog has become a place for me to document my somewhat more successful attempts at re-creating Taiwanese dishes which I encountered whilst dining in local restaurants. For those of you who have Taiwanese roots – parents or grandparents, I hope you will find the recipes useful when you crave some familiar Taiwanese dishes.
If you have suggestions on how I can improve my recipes, I’d love to hear from you and welcome your comments and suggestions!