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Exotic Fruits of the East

January 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

One of my favourite aspects of Asia, is the variety of fruits available there. Ranging from the small longan to the giant jack fruit. Read below to find out more about the fruits I enjoyed on my holiday back to Taiwan.

 

Asian Pears

When walking through the Checkers in Sea Point a few years ago, I came across the Asian pears for the first time in South Africa. This was very exciting for me, I even phoned my mom to make sure she knew. Asians pears are rounded fruits, with a high water content (like watermelon), grainy and crisp-like texture (such as apple). Most yellow-folk eat fruit raw and peeled as they are usually served in between a few dishes and/or at the end of a meal, almost like a palette cleanser. The Asian pear needs to be wrapped carefully because they bruise easily – so you’ll usually find them individually packaged in paper or even better, little styrofoam webbings.

They contain a high amount of vitamin C and fibre, and are hard when ripe. They’re one of the most refreshing fruits I’ve ever had and are easily found in any market in Asia.

Chinese dates / Jujubes

Chinese dates, also known as jujubes, can come in quite a variety, though the ones I had were green Chinese dates.The green ones are the younger form – like chillies and peppers, the colour changes as it ripens and it can be eaten at all stages. They start off green, then changes to red, then after drying they become prune-like purply-red. The texture is like that of a combination of apple and pear, like a small crispy and juicy granny smith apple, but less sour.

Custard Apples

Also known as the bull’s heart or bullock’s heart in the western part of the world, it resembles the knotted braids on Buddha’s head. This fruit grows in a warm and humid climate, which makes sense to why it’s native to the Middle East. The flesh is sweet and juicy with a slight acidic taste and granular texture.

The custard apple also has many health benefits, including a high level of vitamin C, vitamin B-types, potassium, protein, fibre, minerals, vitamins, energy, copper and little fat.

Dragon fruit

This picture of fresh dragon fruit is taken from here.

These fruits can also be found in South Africa as I have seen them in Wellness Warehouse. Like cactus fruits (also known as the prickly pear), it is thorn-like with refreshing sweet flesh on the inside. The fruit doesn’t actually have thorns, so it’s safe to handle them by hand.

The flesh of the fruit is similar to that of a kiwi, but less “strandy”. The small seeds inside resemble the kiwi fruit and can be eaten. It is a delicious fruit, but I feel that it’s more attractive than it tastes. There are ones with bright pink, rich purple and white flesh.

Durian

This picture of cut open durian is taken from here.

Also known as the “King of Fruits,” is the most expensive fruit on the market in Asia. You’ll find that this fruit, like stinky tofu, smells… well like crap. It smells so bad that it’s actually banned from most hotels, buses and trains.

However, even with the terrible smell, this fruit (like the custard apple) is like a super fruit, containing health benefits.

  • High amount of fat, but cholesterol-free
  • Natural laxative
  • High amounts of vitamin C and vitamin B groups.
  • Manganese, copper, iron and magnesium.
  • Potassium, assisting in controlling heart rate and blood pressure.

Jack Fruit

When finishing off climbing the Central Mountain Range in Taichung (don’t worry I won’t go into how unfit I was climbing the steep beast of a small mountain) I came across a tree bearing massive fruit that I’ve never seen before. It was basically the size of my head times two. After doing some research, I found out that the jack fruit is the largest tree-born fruit in the world and it can weigh up to 45 kg.

The jack fruit is part of the mulberry family and has a yellowish and pulpy flesh – a little like banana and the seeds can be boiled and eaten like beans.

Green Apple Guava

This picture of fresh green apple guava is taken from here.

It’s actually quite hard to decide which fruit is my favourite, so you can disregard the first time I said it above. Green apple guava, unlike the more widely-found Thai maroon guavas, are crispy in texture like an apple.

The apple guava is grown in tropical and sub tropical climates, and is commonly found in eastern Asia, the caribbean, and south and central America (being native to Mexico). It’s also very nutritious as it contains large amounts of vitamin A, C and fibre.

In Asian, we slice the guava up, often deseeded (though I enjoy the seeds), and eat it with preserved plum or prune powder.

Longan

This picture of fresh longan is taken from here.

Directly translated, longan means dragon eye and since I was born in the year of the dragon, I’m very fond of this fruit. Unfortunately, this trip was in winter and longan is not in season – which made me very bleak. This is one of my best childhood memories as I remember my dad came back from Taiwan to South Africa with a bunch before, and like lychees, we peeled them, got messy and ate them.

Longan is a tropical fruit and part of the lychee family – the flesh tastes similar, but sweeter, and wraps around a large enamel-like stone/pip. The skin on the outside is smooth, unlike the lychee. You can also find dried longan, which is often used in desserts, like the Eight Treasure Sweet Soup.

Pomelo

I’m saying this again, but seriously… one of my all-time favourites, is the pomelo. This fruit falls in the citrus family and is a type of grapefruit. Unlike the grapefruit found here in South Africa, pomelos are sweet, a tiny bitter (maintaining the grapefruit flavour) and so damn juicy.

We can find them in South Africa, I often buy them from Checkers, if I can find them, or from the Neighbourgoods Market at the Old Biscuit Mill. Yellow folk also eat them on the night of Mid-Autumn Festival, along with mooncakes.

Wax apples 

The wax apple is a fruit I ate almost everyday in Taiwan. This fruit is widely cultivated in the more tropical areas. In South Africa, Durban is the only city that can grow these fruit trees owing to the much-needed humidity. It’s also known as a love apple, java apple, Royal Apple, bellfruit, Jamaican Apple, water apple, mountain apple, cloud apple, wax jambu, rose apple, and bell fruit.

The exterior is a shiny colour of red ranging to purple, with a bit of a white/colourless wash and the flesh on the inside is white. The fantastic thing about the wax apple is the texture. Even though it has a foam-like candy floss mesh, the ratio of the amount of water to flesh this fruit holds is equivalent to that of a watermelon.

original post can be seen on Butterfingers

Taiwanese steam-fried pork buns

October 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

In Taiwan, you can find a wide range of delightful snacks at night markets, which is, also known as street food. One of my favourites is the steam-fried bun. The direct translation for the bun from Mandarin Chinese, is “water fried bun”. The bun is semi-fried and semi-steamed, but very little oil is used in the process. These delightful buns are delicious and pretty much one of the easiest things to make in Taiwanese cuisine.

The dough of steam-fried pork buns is light and fluffy, housing a succulent filling of mainly cabbage and pork mince. Unlike western dishes, Majority of Asian cuisine uses pork mince instead of beef. The reason is that in Taiwanese and Chinese history, cattle farming didn’t exist because, even though they were a food source, they were needed for agricultural purposes. Pigs, on the other hand were bred for consumption purposes alone. This meant that pork was more affordable than beef.

It’s usually quite difficult to raise the buns off the pan without breakage, so my mama found a way to lift the buns off the pan easily by adding corn starch to the water used to steam the buns. Another bonus from her method is that the corn starch makes the buns even crispier.

Ingredients:

Dough: You can also use your own dough recipe.

  • 250g bread/cake flour, sifted
  • 10g sugar
  • 3g instant yeast
  • 135g water
  • 10g sugar
  • 10g canola oil
  • extra flour for dusting

Filling :

  • 500g minced pork
  • 200g chopped cabbage
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tbsp of soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp 5 spices seasoning

Mix till the filling becomes sticky.

Method:

  • Make the dough
  • Divide the filling into 12 portions. (see step 1)
  • Create a floured surface and divide the dough into 12 pieces.
  • Roll out a piece with a rolling pin so that it becomes a flat disc. What often helps is rolling out the edges thinner than the centre to prevent the bun from breaking when being cooked. (see step 2)
  • Scoop one of your 12 portions of filling into the centre of the dough, creating a round ball of filling. (see step 4)
  • Gather the edges to the middle, making sure that you pinch them together hard enough so that there are no gaping holes. (see step 5)
  • Flatten the pinched section and dust it with flour. – Set aside to rest for 10 minutes, allowing the buns to rise. (see step 6)
  • Repeat

Pictures of the method can be seen on the original post on my blog – Butterfingers

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