Here’s some great Spring Rolls my mother made. These are beef and onion ones but you can alter the recipe to include any sorts of other fillings including the likes of pork, chicken, bamboo and bean sprouts – whatever you like. Chinese (Taiwanese) New Year is almost here and these would be a great addition to your dinner table spread!
Please watch the video and you will be able to see the cooking method and technique for making beautiful, golden crispy spring rolls at home – using the best ingredients from your local shops.
In my mother’s recipe the following ingredients were used:
500g beef mince,
sliced spring onions,
spring roll pastry,
egg for ‘glue’
sesame oil, rice wine, a little sugar
+ dipping sauce made from ketchup, lemon & sugar
As mentioned above you can change the contents to suit your own taste and also you might like to use chilli or sweet chilli in the dipping sauce. Hope you like it!
I’ve been to Taiwan this summer as readers will know. Now I’ve been back a couple of weeks but really miss a couple of fruits that are really hard to find in the UK. It’s a shame because it includes two of my favourite fruits.
I went to see my great-uncle one day and he runs a very small scale farm, you might call him a market gardener, with a smallish plot but a big variety of fruits and vegetables all together. Some of the fruits come from trees that have been established for many years but there are also things that need planting every year like the vegetables. In the picture above you can see the beautiful collection of vegetables I gathered that day.
Let’s move on to my favourite fruits, the ones I miss so much. The first is called the longan and it is a close relative to the lychee but grows wild in Taiwan. The name is pronounced “Long -yen” in Taiwan. Though Lychees are specially bred trees to produce this kind of fruit; the cultivation over the years has produced a fruit with a minimal ‘stone’ or ‘pip’, I find them to be unsettlingly fleshy and watery. Longan have a very large black stone in the middle and the layer of flesh is relatively small but it’s flavour is much better in my opinion!
I have found longan for sale in the UK on vegetable stalls in Markets which sell Thai food and ingredients. There is a season for these fruits and in the northern hemisphere it’s just about over now.
My second favourite fruit from Taiwan is the ‘shi jia’ which is pronounced “ser jia” and known by English speakers as the Custard Apple. This fruit seems to be a popular one in Australia but I’ve never seen it in the UK. However ‘custard apple’ is a pretty good description of the overall flavour of the fruit. To my tastebuds the best description would be “rice pudding with a teaspoon of apricot jam”. It’s really delicious and once it is ripe I will put one in the fridge to eat cold, picking up the flesh covered seeds with my chopsticks!
I’m surprised there aren’t so many ‘custard apple’ flavoulred drinks and desserts but I did find one I particularly liked in Hualien, in eastern Taiwan. Here you can buy shi jia ice cream. If you ever go to Taiwan’s east side I recommend you try and find some pots of this tasty ice cream. I bought some, very easily, when we stopped to fill up at a CPC petrol station.
Yesterday I visited a potter in Yuanlin in Taiwan. He lives in the town where my auntie lives and is an old school friend of my mother’s. Now pottery isn’t his full time job but he has developed this hobby into a very nice little business and so the whole ground floor of the house is dedicated to pottery, art and the making and display of these pieces.
There are so many variations of the teapot and cup shape to see in his studios and they look fantastic as you can see from these pictures.
Tea is important to Taiwanese culture and having a show-piece set of traditional tea making and tea drinking pottery is very important to most families. A matching set with teapot at it’s centre can be a great talking point for visitors and guests.
A full tea set can contain a teapot, various kinds of burners to heat water and/or keep your tea hot and of course cups. The pottery in Yuanlin I visited had many beautiful examples to see but also lots of other pottery examples, mainly consisting of bowls and vases which could look good anywhere in your home in groups or individually.
Also here you can see pottery being made at the weekends and see the craftsman at work. Currently the studio doesn’t have its own website but when it does I will share the link here.
If you go to Taiwan you will definitely experience the sights, sounds and even the smells of the temples there. The sights are sometimes beautiful, ornate and even foreboding. The sounds can be quiet or extremely noisy thanks to the use of Firecrackers to scare demons and ghosts etc. Also you will probably notice a stong smell of incense when you walk or drive by a temple.
The temple that reminds me best of recent times when I was in Taiwan is one at ‘Song Bo Lin’. I remember it well as I learned to drive in the nearby Nantou City and the driving instructor took me there as training! After I passed my test and got my own car I liked to drive to this small town with its busy mountain temple and surrounded by tea growing areas just to chill out. The smell of tea and incense was often heavy in the air.
There are lots of beautiful and intricate designs you can see at temples in Taiwan. The picture above was taken when I went on a picnic with my mom, also near Nantou. The picnic was great as we cooked meat and vegetables within fires and then went to this nearby temple to have a look around. On that day there were lots of offerings displayed on tables which would be burned and set to the dead…
Also not far from my home town there is the famous Bagua Mountain Scenic Area which is a Buddhist temple. This is in Changua county and I often went past this impressive sight on the way to my aunties house. These Busshist temples are often dominated by a very large and impressive statue. Sometimes the Dao temples also have statues of their gods towering above the temples, usually also in hillside and countryside settings where they are all the more impressive.