The vanilla equivalent of Southeast Asia. This bush started as one single plant in a pot. I couldn’t decide where to plant it so it stayed in the pot. Three years later, the pot is no where to be found and instead we have a pandan bush.
這是牛皮菇，只長在芒果樹幹的菌菇。朋友說可吃的，但我不敢吃。An edible fungus found only on mango tree trunk.
Getting a haircut is a ritual whenever I am in Taitung. It so happen that I go back once every three to four weeks, perfect timing for a trim.
Shuqing gave me some bananas, a local variety that is humongous. They may look green but are ripe now.
My neighbour came this morning, bearing a gift from his garden, a yam plant. The root has many tiny new shoots, which I removed and planted in a spot with plenty of water. Yam needs high humidity to grow well.
The part that is edible is the black part, only about 10cm in length, but double in volume once cooked.
This is an Olive Bread recipe, based on the no knead method, pioneered by Jim Lahey.
200g Bread Flour
100g Kalamata Olives, pitted, drained, roughly chopped (or a mix of green and kalamata olives)
1g Active dry yeast
Drain the olives and pat them dry. Roughly chop them and make sure all the olives actually don’t have pits. (If the olives are really salty, reduce the salt in the bread).
In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest 12-18 hours. The hotter the weather temperature, the shorter the time needed for fermentation. (Jim Lahey recommends preferably about 18 hours, at room temperature of 20 Celsius degrees. My personal experience in the hot summer weather in Taipei is about 7-8 hours for the bread to double in volume and surface bubbly.)
Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface. Scrape dough out from the bowl gently, you don’t want to disturb the gas inside the bubbles too much, let he dough roll on to the floured surface. place Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
How will you know when the proofing is completed and the dough is ready to go into the oven? The finger test is to press a finger into the dough. If it’s elastic enough that the mark of your fingers disappears, it hasn’t proofed long enough. If your fingers leave a hole that stays unchanged, or if the dough collapses, you’ve left it too long. Ideally the mark of your fingers remains in the dough, but springs back partially.
At least 30 minutes before dough is ready, heat oven to 240 degrees. Put a heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Decide to write a piece on this amazing food, since I have been in love with quinoa since 2013. The year 2013 was the year of quinoa designated by the United Nation.
We were the first to introduce this ingredient at Nonzero and collaborated with Peruvian officials to promote this ingredient. We even flown in a Peruvian chef for a month long Peruvian food promotion. So you can imagine my utter delight to find that Taiwan has its’ own indigenous variety, called Djulis in indigenous Taiwan language. In Chinese it is called Hongli (紅藜).
This native crop has been eaten by Taiwanese aboriginal people for hundreds of years, who also use it to brew a traditional type of wine. The main agriculture area for this crop is in Taitung, where I live. Let me take you to see what the plant looks like and how they are grown, harvest and processed.
Djulis (Chenopodium formosanum) belongs to the Amaranthaceae family of green vegetables and pseudo-cereals, along with its close botanical relative of quinoa. Djulis is known for having a high protein and fiber content, as well as for containing eight kinds of essential amino acids. (This is all the information I could find in English, and there is a bit more info available in Chinese).
Here’s a BBC report on Djulis. http://www.bbc.com/news/av/business-38312876/taiwan-s-surprising-superfood-an-indigenous-quinoa