Sunday, 22 December 2013

鰽白和水蟹

劉健威 <此時此刻>

鰽白和水蟹

食材今非昔比,因而遇到好的食材,都不放過,有時甚至到了沉迷的程度。最近到長洲,就是專門去買鰽白鹹魚。今年鰽白大造,故頗有收穫;但現在已是造尾,再買恐怕要待農曆三、四月間了。

鹹魚殊非健康食品,據說含有致癌物質,不宜多吃,但其濃厚的鹹鮮味實在迷人,其對粵人的吸引力,實有如乳酪之於西人。可是,今天要找一條優質鹹魚實在太難了,本地鹹魚更難覓──市面所賣,百分之九十鹹魚都來自孟加拉。何以故?以馬友鹹魚為例,整條計,現在市面每斤只賣一百六十元左右;四斤鮮魚才曬得一斤鹹魚,現在香港的中型新鮮馬友每斤賣百多元,要是用本灣馬友製鹹魚,每斤成本已需五百多元;成本每斤五百多,要賣多少才有錢賺?故在價格上,跟孟加拉鹹魚根本無從競爭,這是本土鹹魚式微的主因。

幸好,本土鹹魚精品尚有鰽白。新鮮鰽白味薄價廉,但曬成鹹魚後鮮香過於其他魚,價值亦提高不少,這是其尚存在於市場的原因。現在大條的鰽白每斤賣四百八十元,知道其四斤始曬得一斤,便不會說其價昂了。

另一極欲得而不可得的食材是水蟹。在中山崖門棠記吃過水蟹羮,其味道之鮮美,叫人一吃難忘。原來青蟹一生脫殼多次,水蟹是其最後一次脫殼狀態,殼軟而薄,膏和肉都少,但水分卻多;這些蟹水異常鮮味,用以熬湯或粥,都無以上之,為其他蟹無以比較。

香港嗜蟹的人多矣,很少人說水蟹吃水蟹,水蟹亦無處可覓。為什麼水蟹難得呢?原來水蟹不僅殼薄,命也薄。問相熟蟹販為何不賣水蟹?她答道:水蟹不好養,一天賣不完,可能第二天就死掉;甚至在運輸途中也有機會死掉,故賣水蟹不合算。

既然香港找水蟹不易,想吃水蟹,恐怕還是要到澳門或中山去。澳門氹仔官也街誠昌的水蟹粥也殊不俗。

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Wu Pao Chun Bakery

Wu Pao Chun Bakery「吳寶春麵包店」 [Kaoshiung, Taiwan]

Wu Pao Chun Bakery「吳寶春麵包店」 [Kaoshiung, Taiwan]
I have to thank this humble master baker; Wu Pao Chun for giving me all the reasons to squeeze Kaoshiung into my “sardine-packed” travel plan. A friend of mine raised her eyebrows when she learned that I was on a day trip to Kaoshiung. She protest that it was not worth to spend S$200 odd for a returned fare on high speed rail from Taipei to Kaoshiung and to imprison myself for a good 2.5 hours with no multimedia entertainment on-board, just didn’t make sense. It sounds even more crazy to many with the intention to check out bakeries. But I felt much better after being told of more craziest stories from the cabby who ferried 2 tourists to the bakery, having to buy just a croissant!? Aye, I have a much better planned itinerary apart from queuing up for breads, I told myself! So the story begins…
荔枝玫瑰麵包, 酒釀桂圓麵包,Wu Pao Chun, Taiwan, Bakery, Lychee Rose, Logan bread, Kaoshiung, pineapple tarts, 吳寶春
Making Beeline at 10am
The morning crowd was shocking. Although I have been warned, I didn’t expect to see 30ish people waiting in line for the bakery to open its door. The cabby then asked, “Do you still want to get down and queue?” What!? Of course I would, that was my chief purpose to Kaoshiung! It would be silly of me to let you ferry me elsewhere. And so I got down the cab and joined the crowd.

At 10:00 sharp, the bakery finally opened its door to welcome the first 6 customers in line (crowd control: only 6s are allowed to enter the bakery at any one time). Counting patiently to my turn, I gave a closed examination at the bakery. I took noticed of another huge wooden main door separating the glass entrance and its panels, I guess it acts as a “shield” to keep anyone from peeping into the store at its closing? In case of any unauthorized disclosure on the chef’s recipe? Such wild guessing sometimes helped kill my boredom anyway.    
 
By 10:30, I managed to march into the shop, grinning at my partner standing next to me (os: “look at those envy-looking faces behind me, heh”). I am finally a few foot closer to the 2 champion breads that have made the Taiwanese proud. Was hoping to act relaxed, but I couldn’t hold on to my excitement and had to rush to the counter to ask for them. As directed, the 2 huge loaves towering in the bread basket seems to be showing off at me. Without thinking, I pick up the winning “Millet-wine, rose-petal and dried-lychee bread” with my bread tong. Oh my god, this darling weighed a few stones. Suddenly, the tong appeared flimsy and I almost risked dropping the loaf. There were 3 left after I helped myself with one (the Red Wine Dried Longan bread were not as fast-selling in comparison, based on the turnover). And in no time, the basket was emptied by others. The staff had to politely turn away a customer who came to buy the lychee bread (I felt a thousand times better than striking a lottery) and was told that there won’t be anymore batches for the day (both award-winning bread is limited to only 100 loaves per day).
電影[女孩壞壞]Bread NT120
This Rose Sweetheart (for Taiwanese movie 「女孩壞壞」 set to release on May 31,2012)  bread was made with US strawberries, California walnuts & Canadian linseed. Incorporated with organic rose petals, pure longan-fruit honey & New-Zealand cream cheese, the taste was explosive! It came with a surprise when I made an incision on the bread, revealing the whitish cream cheese piped in the middle. The cream cheese was soft and mild tasting, all very refreshing. Each bite on the bread evoked pleasurable feeling, remembering my first love. For only NT120, it has been under-priced.
2010 Champion Bread ~ Millet wine with Dried Lychee & Rose Petal Bread NT350
This Millet-wine with dried Lychee and Rose petals bread 「荔枝玫瑰麵包 was first of its kind. A truly artisan piece of work by this avant-garde baker; Wu Pao Chun. This masterpiece has won him the “2010 Masters de la Boulangerie” title in the European-style bread category. The inspiration came from the popular french confection; Lychee macaron (immediately came to mind was Pierre Hermé’s famous Litchi & Rose ganache; sandwiched between 2 Ispahan macron biscuits), prompts him into experimenting for nearly a year before the bread becomes a success. His courageous hard work (he practiced from 6pm after work to 3am the next day, at least one day a week) has finally paid off. His intention to promote the Taiwan’s agriculture produce has led him into using millet-wine & dried lychee as the main ingredients in the competition which were also rare in Europe. His decision not only crowned him with the prestigious title but also allowed the world to come to know Taiwan, his hometown. His success was made out of his love for his late mother who had helped him overcome all odds in life. He has then start to make pineapple tarts 「陳無嫌鳳梨酥」that named after his mother (who worked in the pineapple field and had been poor) to make her spirit live forever.

This 2010 champ has all the innovative ingredients hidden in it and I vouch for the unique and unforgettable taste of my lifetime! The lychee liquor used to plump up the dried lychee fruits, give the bread its distinctive flavour. The honeyed rose petals was full of flavour. Together with the use of microorganisms (he had spent 3 years reading Japanese-text recipes) to cultivate his own leaven, had him finally succeeded in harmonizing the flavor in the bread. Truly, very single bite heightened a different level of enjoyment. My experience with this award-winning Lychee and Rose petals bread was beyond description. You just have to get acquainted with it to feel what I have felt. Baker Wu is genuinely a gifted master baker whose baking deserves many more applause.
Taiwan Longan with Red Wine Bread NT350
Another award wining bread, 2008 “Taiwan Longan with Red Wine” 「酒釀桂圓麵包」,is another ingenious work by Wu Pao Chun. Selecting only the traditionally-smoked dried longan (from Southern part of Taiwan) soaking up in red wine, it is yet another calligraphic art work in the shop. Using only the French red wine as one of the key ingredients, the bread didn’t taste alcoholic at all. In essence, the dough was fermented not only by the nice yeasty smell but doubled up by the grape fruit in the wine. The crunchy California walnuts made the bread even more aromatic. The taste was gratifying. If you insist I made a choice out of the two champion breads, I have to vote for the 2010 Millet-wine with dried Lychee and Rose Petals bread but this Taiwan Longan with Red Wine bread did come close.
Baguette with mixed mushroom and truffle oil NT80
The sight of this truffle mushroom baguette whetted my appetite for wanting another piece but was a complete sold out. The limited quantities has made this expensive looking bun even more precious. I was lucky to sweep the last one from the basket. The baguette was crisp even though it has lost its warmth. The minced mushrooms, seasoned with truffle oil married well with this mini french pain. The toppings was mild and slightly salted, neither the wild fungus nor the white truffle oil tasted awful (no gasoline after-taste). Both gave a pleasant exchange in its flavour. The pressed garlic made the flavor more mellow. The size was perfect to start the day with.
Mentaiko Baguette NT60
Mentaiko 明太子 baguette, somehow fall slightly behind the truffled bun. The marinated pollock roe was spicy but not burning. Its saltiness was somewhat tamed. I wish for a more distinctive mentaiko fillings (something like Singapore’s Donq). The crusty baguette was as good on its own.
Spring Onion Bread NT20
The Spring Onion bread didn’t let me down. The Taiwanese traditional bread was a delight to eat! I enjoyed the fragrance of the spring onions and its sweetness was not too overly spicy. They were moist and crunchy at the same time. Taiwan has the best local produce and Yilan; a county in Northeast Taiwan, is well-known for its spring onions 宜蘭三星蔥
Plain Croissant NT35
As for the Plain Croissant, I would give it 2 out of 3 stars. I loved its astonishing flaky layers (better than a puff pastry) but it hasn’t had the pronounced buttery flavour (perhaps the Taiwanese prefer it baked this way) which I was after. I hope the bakers could laminate the roll with more butter. Another good notes were that the bread was light & not greasy. I still had a good time with it although the table has been quite a mess when I attempt to tear the croissant apart to share.
陳無嫌鳳梨酥 – NT399 (12s/box)
Apart from baking bread, the baker also offers in-housed pineapple tarts. Stacking neatly on the shelve, next to the cashier, I reached for 2 boxes (packed in 12s/box) to delight my friends back home. 「陳無嫌鳳梨酥」which named after his mother, was made round instead of the rectangular looking tart. The enclosed pineapple filling was fresh and dampish. I adored the sweetness which tasted natural and not artificially sugared. The texture was soft and flaky. It has got a pleasant duck egg flavour (not gamey) and rich buttery taste in the pastry (for those who didn’t like dairy products, maybe this may not appeals to you). The bite size melt-in-the-mouth cake makes a delightful souvenir, it spares you from feeling heavy after eating them.
Staring at the crowd, queuing to foot their bills (mine was a shocking S$80 in total! I have never paid anything like this just for breads…), I felt warm at heart. This master baker has earned himself streams of supporters both locals (mostly) and abroad (occasionally like myself). The interior of the bakery has been designed sleek and clean with very tall ceiling. “Shopping” for breads here, had been a therapeutic affair, though at times it becomes less enjoyable when the champs were sold out.

The long wait at the store is worth a lifetime! I did not regret making a trip to Kaoshiung to buy bread from this Taiwan’s World Champion baker, from which, I now better understand why the queue was all about. In fact, I am glad to have pay a visit and will fondly remember this very day when others mentioned “吳寶春”.

No.19, Swei 3rd roadi,Lingya District,
Kaohsiung City 802
Taiwan

Tel: 07-335-9593

Opening hours:
10:00am – 9:30pm (Daily)
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洋蔥湯


吃洋蔥好處多,抗癌抗氧化,是很棒的食材。天氣冷,喝熱湯好,法式不太難,我這樣做。 出門記得穿暖暖,大家平安喜樂迎佳節!: ) It’s great to have a bowl of hot soup in cold winter. French onion soup is healthy and yummy! Have a wonderful Holiday Season everyone! 法式洋蔥湯 在鍋中加入1/4杯奶油,加入3-4個洋蔥的切絲與1小匙糖,中火炒約15分鐘或至洋蔥成咖啡色。 加入1大匙麵粉拌炒,再加入800c.c.的牛高湯(或高湯)與1杯紅酒,煮沸後轉小火,加蓋煮約15分鐘,用鹽、胡椒調味。 把法國麵包切片後烤至金黃色。 把洋蔥湯倒入小碗中,上面加入一面烤過的法國麵包,上面鋪滿馬滋拉芝士(或瑞士芝士),放入烤箱烤至芝士溶化。 French onion soup Melt ¼ cup butter in a saucepan. Cook 3-4 thinly sliced onion and 1 teaspoon sugar over medium heat about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Stir in 1 tablespoons flour until well blended with the onions and pan juices. Add 800c.c. beef stock and 1 cup red wine (or sherry), bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Toast the sliced French bread until browned, set aside. Ladle soup into a small bowl, place slice toasted bread on the top of the soup, fold mozzarella cheese (or Swiss cheese) on the top of the bread, and then put the soup in the oven at 220C bake until cheese is melted. * 喜歡法國料理的朋友,歡迎到橄欖小館法國料理 Le Bistro de L'olivier 嚐嚐我的法國家鄉菜,飯後有NOUGAT頂級的杏仁開心果路加糖(非常限量,歡迎訂購。)北市安和路二段122號,遠企旁。02-87323726 週一休 Monday off * 想試試英國料理的朋友,歡迎到 波特英式小館 Pot Pie Café,有好吃的早午餐、下午茶。(02-27360905) 祝大家吃得開心!健健康康!

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