August 8, 2011

A taste of the mountains

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My second group of visitors were in town from their new home in Shanghai, and they were desperately craving some local food.  They were already booked for a few Japanese meals, so I took it upon myself to get them some Taiwanese fare.  Since many local restaurants are closed on Mondays - and it also happened to be Father's Day in Taiwan - I eventually decided to make the long trek back to my own neighborhood for Mama Tu's Puli Restaurant (塗姆埔里小吃).  My previous visit left a good impression on me, and I was looking forward to something a little different.

We began with a goodie from last time - crispy-bone pig trotters (酥骨豬腳).  One of us doesn't eat trotters - but wasn't shy about picking up the peanuts - which just meant there was more for me!  I crushed one of the bones with my teeth, but decided I didn't like the sensation I get from swallowing it after all...  Very yummy collagen.

Stir-fried areca flowers with crab legs (半天花蟳腳肉) - not the most environmentally-friendly dish, as the areca plant (檳榔) - whose fruit is commonly known as betel nut thanks to the betel leaves they are wrapped in - is one of the contributors to the soil being loosened and washed away from Taiwan's mountainous regions.  However, it's a dish that is typically Taiwanese, especially from areas such as Puli (埔里) in Nantou County (南投縣).  I'll remember not to order this again...

Asparagus flower stir-fried with shredded pork (蘆筍花炒肉絲) - I'm sure that these are really the flowers of asparagus officinalis... but they were kind of interesting and resembled the tips of asparagus.  Apparently these are in season.

Stir-fried rice vermicelli (埔里炒米粉) - still one of my favorite vermicellis in town.  So tasty with all that deep-fried shallots, mushrooms, coriander and a glistening coating of oil.

Pan-fried radish cake (煎蘿蔔糕) - ho hum.

Poached milkfish with pickled melon (蔭瓜虱目魚肚) - milkfish (虱目魚) is a Taiwanese staple, but my visitors don't seem to be very familiar with it...  This was not bad.

I enjoyed the meal as it featured a lot of ingredients not usually found elsewhere, and look forward to returning as it's just a stroll from my parents' place.

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