Friday, June 3, 2011

Taiwan in New York

Last Sunday WFC went to Passport to Taiwan in Union Square. In its 10th annual installment, this is the largest Taiwanese American outdoor festival in the States.

We were happy to find a Dracula Popsickle and Crystal Meat Dumpling among the multiple food stand offerings.

Dracula Popsickle is made out of pork blood, mixed with rice flour, corn starch, sausage and rice. It is baked, briefly deep fried, and rolled in crushed peanuts. Served with cilantro.

You can watch this tutorial video by food writer Josh Ozersky with Public's chef Brad Farmerie on how to make it.

The blood popsickle tastes a lot like boudin noir, but has a more prominent pork blood taste and smell. The peanuts add a nice crunch and the cilantro balances out the smell.

Crystal Meat Dumpling was unlike any other crystal dumpling I've ever seen. The rice dough was a lot more translucent than that of other dumplings. It was wrapped in saran wrap for convenience, and was stuffed with all sorts of meats (I will never know which!) and shiitake mushrooms. I can't seem to find any information on the crystal meat dumpling. It will remain mysterious.

A more popular recent Taiwanese culinary export is Taiwanese Shaved Ice. Many other countries have their own versions of Shaved Ice (or "Shave Ice" or "Snow Ice"), a dessert made by shaving a block of ice and topping it with various sweets. The Taiwanese version is often topped with fruits, condensed milk, syrup and red beans. (WFC Factoid: red beans are sweet because they are cooked with a whole lot of sugar, not because they are naturally sweet!)

SeriousEats lists places where you can try Taiwanese Shaved Ice in New York, including:
- Excellent Pork Chop House (3 Doyers Street)
- Ten Ren (75 Mott Street)
- Dumpling Man (100 Saint Marks Place)
- Vivi Bubble Tea (49 Bayard Street)

So far I've only tried Shaved Ice at the Flushing Mall food court, which had an impressive variety of toppings.

As Shaved Ice becomes more popular, perhaps it will soon be as ubiquitous as bubble tea!