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2010.04.30

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meemalee

Oh my god - I want those soooo much!

Pete

What a lovely dish! Love your photos & narratives as always.
BTW, I'm currently in Kaohsiung on a 2-week assignment - my first trip here ever. Somehow, I found Kaohsiung's local foods a bit too bland for my taste! Kaohsiung cuisine tastes quite flat compared to Taipei's, don't you find that?

Albert

This looks fantastic, never seen this in Taipei, I might have to take a trip down there next time I am in Taiwan.

Have you had a chance to eat 燕餃 during your travel in Taiwan or China? They are little pork filled wontons with almost translucent wrappers made from pork, often served in a light broth with white pepper and chinese celery much like what you described here.

Mr Noodles

Although your blog is consistently excellent, being a noodle fan, these are the posts that get my attention. The mind boggles at how they manage to make these delicate noodles from fish. And as for the yu jiao dumplings, these really are stunning.

Robyn

Meemalee - Kinda made myself hungry writing this one up. ;-)

Hi Pete - I do sort of agree, mostly because I naturally gravitate to stronger flavored foods (and I LOVE chili) but I am a total seafood fiend and I really appreciate the light touch with fish and shellfish there in Kaohsiung. Eg the food at this place:
http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatingasia/2009/06/we-really-didnt-know-what-to-expect-from-kaohsiung-a-city-on-taiwans-southwestern-coast-that-is-home-to-one-of-asias-larges.html
(and they do have chilies there).

But sure, after two weeks I'd be craving a bowl of spicy niuroumian!

the lacquer spoon

Amazing! Japan has fish noodles too though we eat a small portion as a starter or side dish. Wondering if they're all over Asia.

Katy Biggs

EatingAsia Facebook page is great, though left me with a dilemma where to post my comments! ;-)

Quite a large amount of the fish meat products in Taiwan are made from 旗魚Qi Yu (Sailfish/Spearfish) – the famous Fuzhou fish ball is known for one. The island Qijin(Cijin)旗津, literally means Port of Qi (Qi fish).

The noodle of this particular stall (or in the area) is made of 狗母魚 (literally Dog Mother Fish – not a particular pretty name! Don’t know the source), English commonly known as ‘Painted Lizardfish’, I think, not completely sure. The springy, chewy texture comes from the fish, no starched binder is used, so is said. Dog Mother Fish is widely and commonly used in澎湖 (island of Peng Hu, an outlying island located between Taiwan and China)- known for its chewy springy fish ball, springier than a golf ball so says the locals.

The most painstaking and laborious part of making these kind of noodles come down to the deboning – it has many! The introduce of fish deboning machine in the recent years has made Peng Hu fish workers’ life a lot easier.

Peng Hu’s fresh fish ball is said to contain no preservatives, unsuitable for frozen, and recommended to be fridge kept in bowl of cold water to be consumed within the next day.

Like Albert, I lived in Taipei and have never seen or heard of this noodle. One of your Tainan born reader mentioned about it being a local dish, though no mention of the type of the fish used.

I had had many fish/prawn dumplings and 燕餃 (pork filled wanton in Albert’s describe) in my Taipei days – though frozen and manufactured.

Robyn

Katy -- great and informative comment as always. One of the best things about blogging ... I often learn more from the folks who read the blog than I do during our travels.
So Katy -- milkfish is never used for fish balls in Taiwan? It was everywhere in Kaohsiung --- those ubiquitous fillets with the fat patch in the middle (yum).

laquer spoon -- interesting! Can you describe the noodles? Do they look like these and taste as I described these? Are they served in soup or dry or...? Thanks.

the lacquer spoon

Robyn, great to find your interest in Japanese fish noodle too, and some info I know follows:

Japanese fish noodle is called “uo-somen” (fish thin noodle/ “魚素麺” or “魚そうめん”). It’s popular in the Kansai district (West Japan), especially in Kyoto. Not often eaten in Tokyo though my family does.

Uo-somen is “boiled fish paste” in a form of thin noodle, thus it’ not exactly a member of Japanese udon/ soba noodle family which is made of flour. Its ingredient is white fish such as hamo (sea eel), tai (sea bream), cod, et al. This noodle is to eat a small portion as a starter or side.

The fish noodle is available in fish paste mongers and eaten cold with a dash of fish broth flavoured with soy. It has something to share with the Taiwanese counterpart in taste and texture; snappy, a bit sandy and not too fishy, but the colour is clear white, sometimes green mixed with green tea powder.

Photos (uo-somen):
http://ow.ly/1FWf9

In the meantime, I had a new finding today! There’s the other version of fish noodle called “sakana-udon” (fish udon noodle/ “魚うどん”) in Japan. It’s a very local food eaten in Nichinan-city, Miyazaki pref. South Japan. Made of flying fish, this noodle is served like Japanese hot soup udon in a big bowl.

It seems that sakana-udon was originally invented to cover the food shortage in the coastal area rich in fish, during the war time.

Photos (sakana udon):
http://ow.ly/1FWfj
(chopped spring onion and yuzu citrus on top)

Hope it helps! Spoon x

Katy Biggs

I am sure it is, fish balls in Taiwan are made from a wide range of fishes and milkfish is a popular choice. Just meant when I was living there, I often saw on the packages or signs in the wet market claiming the ‘real’ ‘best’ Fuzhou fish balls made from Qi fish – that was a long time ago and I am sure nowadays you get all sorts despite the ‘tradition’.

Apparently, 狗母魚 (Gou Mu) is a Hokkien pronunciation of the fish and it is commonly known as snakefish. Tainan is known for exquisite fish cuisines made form milkfish and snakefish. There are stores do noodles made of other fish with starchy binder, but here is a popular one of snakefish if you want to try on your next trip.

台南卓家汕頭魚麵 (Mr Zhuo Fish Noodle) – 50 years old store.
台南市中西區民生路一段158號 (Tainan city, Zhong Xi District, Min Sheng Road, Sec 1, No. 158). 10:00-21:00

Wen

Fascinating! Haven't crossed path with fish noodles before -- looks fabbo! And why why why did I not come across u-somen in Kansai in the last 2 weeks. (Damn wish I read this earlier now!)

I recently learnt how to make fishballs from scratch (still need to write the post!), with no binding agents. I can attest that getting proper springiness using just fish requires helluva lotta arm muscle... probably why the real deal fish-only noodle won't be easily found.

Katy Biggs

I think I’d appreciate ‘Uo-somen’ eaten in small portion – they aren’t cheap!

laquer spoon’s mentioning of flying fish (飛魚) reminded me of something and after a quick search, found that flying fish noodle (飛魚麵) is a local specialty for all these places in Taiwan: 蘭嶼 (Orchard Island), 台東 (Taidong), 花蓮 (Hualian)小琉球 (little Okinawa, Pingdong County),綠島 (Green Island) – particularly well known for the first three.

These fish noodles come in all sort of forms – hand-made noodle in broth, deep fried fish nuggets or deep fried - dried fish in noodle soup…And recently developed dried noodle sold in packages.

Here is a photo of the hand-made noodle in soup.
http://mypaper.pchome.com.tw/jehwen/post/1294005660

Katy Biggs

Meant hand-made noodle made of flying fish of course.

Hsuan

I second Katy's recs in Tainan - having eaten at the latter a few years back, the taste still lingers when I think about it. They do a 'dry' version, in which a sauce akin to soba soy sauce but with a tang of something citrusy. Glad to hear that you have such fond eating memories of Taiwan.

Katy Biggs

Wen - that is also one of the major difficulties why hand-made fish noodle vendors (without binding agent) find it hard to sustain their business. And perhaps why most these noodles found are made with some form of starchy agents). The process is both time-consuming and painstakingly laborious - to get the proper springiness and chewiness requires precision to the timing of the adding of water and rhythmic beating of the meat. Not a trade that appeals much to the younger generation I am afraid!

Katy

Robyn - The origin of the name ‘狗母魚’ (Gyow Moo Yu/fish) comes from 狗母蛇 (Gyow Moo She/snake) - slang for Lizard and an animal symbolically inferior in Chinese folklore culture. It derives from a saying “生一条真龙,赢过生狗母蛇一筐” (literally, “one dragon is better than a bucketful of lizards”) - ie quality wins over quantity.

I also pondered about the advertising of the stall ‘pepper handmade fish noodle soup’– the dish contains pepper seasoning, but it is not a major ingredient. Hujiao (pepper) pronounced in Hokkein ‘Ho Jio’ sounded extremely close phonetically to Fuzhou ‘Ho Chio’. To make sure I wasn’t fabricating, I checked and found that the Taiwanese Hujiao Bing (your mince pork pie) has a counterpart in Fuzhou called ‘Rou Shi Bing’ (literally mince pork pie) that contains similar ingredients, same shape, size, baked and served in the same way. ‘Hujiao’ Bing is a name Taiwanese use and is known to be, from some sources, derived from ‘Fuzhou’ because of their phonetic similarity.

I therefore surmise that when you see a snack in Taiwan with the name Hujiao, not only does it contain pepper, but it may also have a strong Fuzhou influence.

julia

Taiwan does have great food!
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