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Archive for the ‘Joyce’ Category

Taro and yam balls weren’t the only food item I’ve grown fond of from our Taiwan trip last fall. There’s also pepper bun 胡椒餅. In fact, my first memory of having pepper buns went all the way back to my family trip to Taipei more than 10 years ago. After all those years I still vividly remembered the piping hot, peppery filling inside the crispy bun — it was so delicious and memorable that I include it as a must-have for everyone visiting Taiwan. And I couldn’t stop telling Mr. about it before and throughout the trip. Taipei was our last stop, so we had to wait till then to get our fill. I told Mr. to wait, but we did succumb to the temptation and get some pepper buns at our other stops, but it was a bad decision because it was nothing like the ones in Taipei.The very night we arrived in Taipei, we immediately went for some pepper buns. We didn’t go to Raohe Night Market 饒河街觀光夜市 as it was reserved for another day, but we went to the brick and mortar storefront of the same vendor at the night market 福州世祖胡椒餅. We waited for the pepper buns fresh out of the clay oven, and boy were they hot. Pretty sure we burned the roof of our mouths when we took our first bite. And it was soooo good! It’s just as good as I remembered. The meat was juicy, peppery, and the crust was crispy and flaky.

When we went to Raohe two days later, I couldn’t help myself but crave for one more pepper bun before we flew home to Vancouver.

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Ever since our Taiwan trip last November, I’ve been thinking about those tasty yam and taro balls from Jiufen. They were bouncy, chewy, and full of yam and taro flavour. You can find them here at Taiwanese restaurants such as Meet Fresh and Sweet Memory, but the texture just wasn’t the same. The ones here tend to be softer and you can’t really taste the root vegetables. Now that we are home all the time, we looked up different recipes to make these taro and yam balls. Turns out it’s not complicated at all and super easy to make. You can adapt it to other root vegetables or even red and mung beans. After a couple of tests and some adjustments, we finally came up with a recipe that worked to our liking.

Here is the recipe to make three flavours of these chewy balls, using purple yam, yam and taro. All three flavours follow the same instructions but the measurement of ingredients varies because of the water content of the root vegetables. In fact, we found that you don’t need to add water to the yam one, but more tapioca flour is needed. You will need to gauge the use of water and tapioca flour as you make the dough.

Ingredients

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In Vancouver, there’s no shortage of ramen restaurants. Two of my favourite places are Marutama (for its creamy chicken broth) and Ramen Danbo (for its tasty ramen at a surprisingly reasonable price). While the focus is often on the noodles (especially house made fresh noodles) and chasu, the ramen egg (Ajitsuke Tamago 味付け玉子) is equally important in a bowl of ramen. The marinated egg has this jammy, custard-like yolk that should go on everything. I can’t believe it took a pandemic for me to discover the home-made version. And it’s sooo easy to make, too. Most recipes online call for Japanese sake but we made it with Chinese cooking wine and I thought it worked very well.

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It’s a yearly tradition that I would take Mama Lam out for either afternoon tea or brunch for Mother’s Day. I can’t believe we’re only one week away! Planning for this year is a bit different since there’s no dining in service, so we’re resorting to to-go offerings and they don’t require reservations weeks in advance.

If you are looking to do something similar with your mom, here is a round-up of afternoon services available as to-go this year. Pre-order is required but deadline is different for each place. Delivery may also be available.

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When it comes to fruits, we always choose what’s seasonal, and when possible, local. Recently I discovered muscat grapes from Chile, and I must say, I love these grapes. And it’s not even being made into wine!

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The Chilean Muscat is now in season, till about early May. I got them as part of the Signature Farm Box at Kin’s Farm Market, where for $60 you receive a box full of high quality, fresh produce.

The Chilean Muscats are nice and round, with a beautiful gradient from green to pink. The grapes are very juicy, and it’s sweet and floral. The fruit may be on the smaller size but it’s super easy to eat. I think I ate the entire bunch in one seating!Obviously, these would make a great addition to a charcuterie board, or simply snacking on them with a few cubes of aged cheddar. I also found suggestions online about grape salads or bruschetta. I was trying to come up with other interesting ways to enjoy the grapes, and here are two things I did:

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