Raise your hand if you like sushi or sticky rice. If you have a hand up, I can bet that you’d love fan tuan* (飯糰）. Eh? What’s that?
Fan tuan is a breakfast food that is at its simplest, constructed of large air-pocketed deep fried dough (you tiao) and fluffy fried pork bits (less appetizingly named pork floss or pork sung) that are wrapped up in a big bundle of sticky rice. Those are the mere basics, and often times it will also include salted radishes and pickled mustard greens, or whatever the chef deems as additional savory toppings. Fan tuan is most commonly savory, especially the ones I had in Taiwan, though my mom would always tell me that it also came in a sweet version: sticky rice, you tiao, crushed peanuts, and sugar.
I am a sucker for sticky rice in all its forms: nian gao, tang yuan, yuan zi, etc etc, so it is no surprise that I love fan tuan, which involves a good deal of sticky rice.
I have fond memories of fan tuan in Taiwan- my first visit to Taiwan in 2005 was a high school graduation gift from my grandma. We were walking by a park, and there was a vendor hanging out there. I ordered a fan tuan and tea for breakfast (that had me stuffed for several hours afterwards!)
Not fan tuan that I made, but a Taiwan-made fan tuan from my 2011 trip
Welcome to Part II of the Taiwan Eats series, where I documented good eats during our 2014 trip to Taiwan! Click for Part I, Part IIIa, Part IIIb, Part IV and Part V.
So then we left Taipei and took the high speed rail to Gaohsiung. If you make it through this post, you may be wondering..where are all the night markets at? Where’s Liuhe (六合） and Ruifeng （瑞豐)? There were two main reasons we didn’t go…1) We only spent two nights in Gaohsiung, and 2）One of my mom’s friends, who keeps a strict healthy diet, told us we shouldn’t go =(. We also didn’t have much room or time for it, because our time was mostly guided by my mom’s friends.
Fear not! With T (Mr. ABC Chef) in my company, there’s no way we would have left future nightmarkets undiscovered. We went to practically all the night markets possible, in the other cities we visited. Stay tuned..
Xing Long Ju
Gaohsiung City, Liuhe Er Road, #184-186C
Growing in southern California, I definitely took soy milk sources for granted. When I talk about soy milk, I mean the kind that made from just soybeans and water. I am not referring to soymilk like Silk, which adds carrageenan (for thickening) and “natural flavor”.
At 99 Ranch Market, a huge Chinese grocery store chain, there would be a few types of soy milk from local stores, and you could buy it in half gallons in the sweetened or plain varieties (we always bought plain, then added our own sugar). You could get hot or cold soy milk as part of a Taiwanese breakfast. My dad also went through phases of making soymilk. He would buy big bags of soybeans from Smart and Final to make oodles of soymilk. Eventually, he decided that he craved soymilk enough to invest in a soymilk machine. I sometimes wondered why he would make it, when we could buy it from the store!
Now that I’m older and enjoy drinking (plain, even! *gasp*) soy milk even more, plus the fact that soybeans are really inexpensive, I see more eye to eye with my dad on making soymilk. Another incentive is that the soymilk I make won’t have carrageenan or natural flavoring in it.
Also, for some math: I got some (organic) soybeans for $1.53/lb. For one batch of soymilk (Depending on your preference of thickness), it requires 1 cup of soybeans, which costs roughly 67 cents. Not bad, right? Read on to make EASY homemade soy milk!
|Soy milk and Pepper wanting to be famous|
When I was a little girl, my family would go hiking in the San Gabriel mountains. The dad of one of the families that we would go hiking with was a boy scout troop leader, and he set a precedence for 6 AM starts in an attempt to beat the California sun. This meant waking up around 5:30 while it was still dark out, slapping on some clothes, and fumbling our way to the car. Actually, this was just me. My mom, dad and sister are all morning people and never used to have issues waking up so early on a Saturday!
Whether it was my general laziness for physical activity or my love of sleeping, I really disliked hiking. (Don’t worry, I grew out of my laziness- I hiked the Grand Canyon with my family in middle school, and went on a backpacking trip to Yosemite my senior year of high school!)
Thankfully for my parents, I loved to eat. I think the promise of eating out for breakfast after hiking was the only incentive for me to get out of bed. Our go-to place was a restaurant that served a Taiwanese-style breakfast of soymilk (dou jiang) and other goodies. The restaurant would have big pots of steaming soy milk in the back, ready to be ladled into bowls. We often ordered shao bing, fragrant flaky pastries that were definitely made with lard, and you tiao, yeasted dough that was deep-fried. If that wasn’t enough, there was also shao bing jia you tiao, which was a wrap of the you tiao in the shao bing. Fat and carbs…yum! There was also jiu cai he zi (click for the recipe!) that we would often get, too.
We have since found another breakfast place that we liked better, and with a new restaurant comes new offerings. One of my favorite pastries to get is su bing, which is a flaky pastry with some sort of filling. Some of my favorite fillings include peanut, red bean paste, and black sesame. Where I live in Pennsylvania has zero Taiwanese breakfast places, so my solution is to create those breakfast goodies in my kitchen!
Continue reading for my recipe of black sesame flaky pastry, or hei zhi ma su bing. Leftover filling (should you have any) would be a great add-in to your soy milk. Oh, and if you haven’t already gotten a scale, do your baking self a favor and purchase one.
Do you see the layers?