看食物,二探Energy Bar

Spiced Acai Energy Bars

Spiced Acai Energy Bars

不知道是年紀到了還是因為常接觸運動和戶外圈子的緣故,對於吃進去肚子裡的東西,就算沒有愈來愈講究,也多少想要知道自己究竟吃進了什麼?不過雖然近年來聽過看過的飲食風潮非常地多,我都沒有被吹倒,究其原因是自己太好吃,大家的普遍概念又都是「要健康就要犧牲美味」。

但是,終於我的立場在2013年年終之前動搖了,主要原因還是在於純天然其實最好吃,我加州的好友在她們的院子搞有機蔬菜園,種出來的青椒和茄子漂亮,還有天然的清香,是超市裡的蔬菜沒有的。其次則是在於我目前的飲食方式其實是很不環保的方式。(環保居然是最後一根稻草啊~~~)

根據我過去幾年閱讀一些書籍學習到知識歸納(好像不是什麼新知啊?):

  1. 吃東西要吃東西的原狀,避免加工品。
  2. 多吃五穀、堅果、種子、蔬菜和水果。
  3. 植物類的需避免高溫烹煮,盡量考慮生食。
  4. 目前人類吃肉的量已經超過自然界可以負荷的量,造成魚類絕種,養殖農業用看起來有效率的方式製造肉品,卻製造出更多問題。(如化肥、激素、抗生素等)
  5. 最高層次的有機農業,需要模擬多元化的生態。
  6. 如果全世界的人都吃素,地球足夠供給所有人口食物。

最近我又學到一個新名詞,叫做Plant-based Diet,基本上就是吃素。我是還沒有打算吃全素,尤其是如果旅行到的區域大部分都是肉食,或者是別人煮飯有肉請我吃,我是一定不會拒絕的。但是如果自己煮就會盡量。一般素食者多半擔心蛋白質和鐵質的攝取。但是如果有心似乎也不是太問題。

目前我大致盤算了三餐的菜單,早餐目前我還是犧牲不了雞蛋,一時想不出創意菜單(大家有什麼建議嗎?)。零食、午餐、和晚餐都比較有譜了。另外我為Magic添購了一個小小的食物攪拌機(Food Processor),搭配我們原本就有的小果汁機。我們就可以做出各類的 smoothies、沙拉醬、拌麵或是拌飯醬、也比較好做hummus和guacamole,還可以自製energy bars,以及不需要烤箱的pie。

今天我就試作了Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health(其實沒有耐心看完,只記下一些感興趣的食譜)書中的一個energy bar的食譜。雖然說之前就已經從朋友那邊學來一個energy bar的作法,但是因為該個食譜需要購買市售的堅果醬(如花生醬),還是不如自己從堅果本身開始打的好。

這本書建議的energy bar的作法很簡單,基本上就是把所有材料倒進食物攪拌機,然後攪到適當的個人喜好的程度,比如有人喜歡細膩些、有人喜歡顆粒多些。最後再倒出來,手捏成型。我喜歡先一起揉一揉,然後用力地壓進一個方形的淺容器,放到冰箱裡冰一下,再拿出來切成塊狀。

將所有的材料黏合在一起的通常是加入的水果乾(最常用的是棗子,棗子相當黏啊~~)。食譜也會有一些口味上的辛香調味,以及一些所謂的健康食品。在這個食譜中,裡頭的健康食品是chia seeds和acai powder,前者吃起來口感很像芝麻,後者根據wikipedia健康效益還沒有科學化的根據。

Spiced Acai Energy Bars

3/4 cup raw almonds
3/4 cup pitted Medjool dates
3 tbsp acai powder
2 tbsp raisins
1/4 cup dried apricots
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
tiny pinch of salt(optinal)

心得:因為手邊沒有杏乾,所以就全部都使用棗乾,感覺有些太甜,猜測如果有較酸的杏乾,則可以中和甜度。Bar的整合性相當好,小小一塊,就給人相當飽足的感覺。雖然食譜上寫鹽可加可不加,但是個人覺得加了之後風味更佳,下次可以試試看天然海鹽。我比較喜歡這種Energy Bar的作法,勝過我之前的作法,除了可以從堅果的原型開始,口感也較佳,同時只做小量也不麻煩。

參考書目:
Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food — 作者的敘述功力超厲害,引人入勝,不知不覺中學習新知,五顆星!!

Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health — 主要抄了沙拉醬、能量棒、和派的食譜

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals — 還算好看,但是作者有點碎碎唸

Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness — 結合作者的故事和他的一些食譜,不過食譜對Magic的廚房而言難度太高

Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Studies in Food and Culture — 了解一些食品產業的背後,文字平舖直述

不需要烤箱的簡易 Bar 食譜

不需要烤箱就可以製作的 bar

在美國,從事戶外活動者,一定在某個時刻吃過或是帶過 bars 到步道上或者是天然岩場邊。這裡的 bars 種類還真多,從比較平民化的桂格和 Nature Valley 的 granola bars,到受攀岩者歡迎的 Cliff Bars 系列,從事三鐵喜歡的 Power Bars 系列,還有高檔的 Protein Bars 等。

我也吃過不少 bars ,尤其在爬多繩距路線的時候,bars 真的很方便,但是除了方便以外,個人對市場上的 bars 實在不敢恭維。因為以台灣人的口味而言,這些 bars 都太甜膩了,或者不像真的食物。於是心裡一直惦著要自己製作 bars 的念頭。我爸爸是香港長大的,從小我就愛吃南棗核桃糕,我想基本原理應該是一樣的,而且南棗核桃真不像美國 的 bars 這麼膩人,我一定可以做出自己喜歡的口味。

把這個念頭跟 Dave 一提,他說我真該和他的朋友 Erik 請教。多年以前,他和 Erik 在 Yosemite 混,Erik 自製了很多 bars 在 Camp 4 兜售,還相當受歡迎。現在 Erik 長住在 Joshua Tree,是個專職的攀岩嚮導,我一問之下,他果然興高采烈。

他是這麼說的:

「一杯 nut butter (花生醬、杏仁醬、核桃醬等等),加上一杯稍微加熱的蜂蜜(稍微加熱所以不會太硬,但是不要過份加熱到破壞營養),用隻木湯匙攪勻,然後逐漸混上你喜歡的東西。堅果也好、曬乾的水果也好。不過要記得加上可以吸收溼度的東西,像是椰子粉或是芝麻。」

這時候他太太加入討論,告訴我「妳要加很多吸收水分的東西,椰子粉(coconut flour)非常強效」,說著就大方地遞給我一罐椰子粉。

Erik 繼續繪聲繪影地說:

「漸漸地該個『麵團』變得愈來愈堅硬,再攪拌下去木湯匙就要斷了,這時候就是該用手的時候了。加進去的東西愈有顆粒愈需要咀嚼愈好,這樣子 bars 才不會像人工食品,會像真的食物,這樣才會讓人有食慾。最後放到盤裡壓平,切片的時候,因為裡頭的油脂,所以絕對不會黏鍋底。」

「如果蜂蜜太甜,可以用麥芽糖或者是從米萃取出來的糖液(rice syrup)取代。」

呃,聽完之後,我最大的疑問就是到底該個「麵團」究竟該多堅硬?多乾燥呢?不過因為 Magic 的空間很寶貴,我也沒有像以前住公寓一樣,擁有量秤、量杯、甚至混材料的大碗了。反正差不多就好了,我這樣想。

前兩次的製作過程中,我混了很多所謂的戶外乾糧(trail mix – 有花生、杏仁、葡萄乾、薑糖、蔓越莓乾和大量的芝麻和椰子粉),該個麵團很乾燥,切的時候卻零零落落,邊緣的東西都掉下來了。有的還有個 bar 的樣子,但是吃的時候必須一手在下邊接著。好吃歸好吃,難看也真難看。

我拿了一些給 Erik 吃,他倒是很稱讚,說這樣才像真的食物,如果不夠黏著,他建議「可以多混些蜂蜜」。

隔天 Erik 休假,跑來和我們一起攀岩,帶來了他自己做的 bars。非常有 bar 的樣子,也不太甜,但是裡頭的顆粒不大。我想也許我不應該太有野心地混了那麼多大體積的乾果,也許「麵團」也該濕黏一些。

所以我捲土重來,在鍋子裡放上大約五比四的蜂蜜和花生醬後,我混進一包椰子粉(不是 coconut flour 而是超市買的 coconut flakes),再倒進 granola (主要成份是燕麥),混進烤餅乾的巧克力片。麵團可以維持一整團的形狀,邊緣黏黏的,手掌離開麵團後手掌上會有黏膩感,但是不會黏上東西。接著我在平底鍋裡灑上薄薄的一層芝麻,把麵團在平底鍋上壓平,再在上頭灑上一層芝麻。(芝麻的目的是避免之後黏手)

因為 Magic 的冰箱不夠大,所以只能天然冷卻,不過沙漠地方晚上常是十度以下,和冰箱比起來也不遑多讓。幾個小時之後,切開,果然好吃又漂亮。我個人是覺得還是甜了些,不過美國脾胃的 Dave 倒是很喜歡(或者他不敢說不喜歡)。我認為應該可以再混進少許材料。不過我已經相當滿意了。

自己做 bars ,如果把工錢也算進去,可能沒有省到很多錢,可是不明的人工添加物的確少很多,且可以自己創造新口味,還是挺值得的。

 

 

台灣菜風情

2010年秋天,我接了一個 case,幫一家位於西雅圖叫做 Restauranteers 的 start-up 寫關於吃食的稿子,他們說,希望很快地這個工作可以從無給變成有給,不過寫了七篇稿子後,無給還是無給,連個餐廳打折卷也沒賺到。不過當初接下這個工作,主要是因為我愛吃,也愛煮菜,對於美食相當有興趣,也順便藉著這個機會強迫自己多用英文寫作。最後,無給的工作果然撐不長,我就悄悄地從作者群消失了。回頭看看寫的那些文章,大部分都蠻 cheesy 的,因為他們要求簡短和商業化,所以寫了像是「吃港式飲茶的秘技」、「好吃的豆腐菜」、「水果也可以煮來吃」、「Belluvue 的鼎泰豐」等等自己也不是很驕傲的稿子。不過其他的還可以,所以把那些還可以的轉過來我的個人網站,做個紀念。

本篇:「台灣菜風情」,原載:2011年4月25日

令人垂涎三尺的鐵板蚵仔煎

“Chung chung fei,” an old peddler bawled as he carried his wares into our neighborhood. It was more than twenty years ago and the chant always rang in the streets around four o’clock in the afternoon. I could never match his bawl to any familiar words as his Mandarin had a thick accent, but the sound of sizzling deep-frying and especially the distinct smell of the food explained it well. It was the stinky tofu.

When people ask me what Taiwanese food is about, the first images that come to my mind are always those old veterans of the second World War, riding a three-wheeler that hauls their tools for making a living. It could be Shandong steamed buns which have the chewy texture like New York bagels. It could be stinky tofu puffed by deep-frying and then served with pickled Chinese cabbage and topped with mashed garlic. It could be a rice cake on a bamboo stick coming out of a huge wooden steamer.

“Spicy or not?” the vendor would ask.

He then soaks the rice cake in a special sauce consisting of garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil etc. and rolls it on a bed of chopped cilantro and sweetened coarse-grained peanuts.

Taiwanese food culture ties strongly with commoners’ diets. It started with vendors selling a small serving of food as a snack option for farmers, loggers, and other workers. After 1949, many veterans of WWII retreated to Taiwan with their leader Chiang Kai Shek who lost the Chinese Civil War to Mao. The veterans started to sell their hometown cuisines which not only made Taiwan an authentic place to sample Chinese regional cuisines, but stirred up a continuous food fusion movement. Together with the influences from Japanese colonization, Spanish and Dutch occupation and Native Taiwanese heritage, Taiwanese cuisine has become very diverse and international.

Nowadays, along with the improvement of the standard of living and the dedication of skilled local chefs, many Taiwanese dishes have been featured on upscale restaurant menus and gained international recognition. Among which Taiwanese beef noodle soup is listed as one of the “must-try specialities” by the just published Michelin Green Guide Taiwan, and the year 2010 was the 6th year of Taipei International Beef Noodle Soup Festival.

Immigration and globalization have also brought Taiwanese food to many corners of the world. For example, there are dozens of bakeries and drink shops selling bubble tea in Seattle such as Oasis in the University District and Gossip in the International District. Din Tai Fung’s grand opening in Bellevue last summer excited gourmet eaters who are particular about dumplings.

In a nutshell, Taiwanese food emphasizes the original flavors of the unique ingredients. After all Taiwan is an island with diverse landscape and there is no shortage of fresh ingredients. The seasoning is minimum and many dishes are cooked quickly and accompanied by dipping sauces. Chinese herbs are also commonly incorporated to make broth for noodle soups or hot pots.

If you have a chance to visit Taiwan to taste Taiwanese cuisine, don’t forget to visit the night markets as each night market has their signature dishes to offer. In Seattle, you can sample Taiwanese food in the following restaurants: Facing East, Rolling Wok, and Henry’s Taiwan. Taiwanese pork hamburgers, oyster omelet, three-cup chicken, braised pork rice, and deep fried chicken rolls are all authentic Taiwanese dishes. For desserts, try hot grass jelly in winter and shaved ice with condensed milk and beans in the summer. And of course, if you dare, stinky tofu is always there waiting for you.

Yes! 豬血糕

 

吃各國食物的民俗講究

2010年秋天,我接了一個 case,幫一家位於西雅圖叫做 Restauranteers 的 start-up 寫關於吃食的稿子,他們說,希望很快地這個工作可以從無給變成有給,不過寫了七篇稿子後,無給還是無給,連個餐廳打折卷也沒賺到。不過當初接下這個工作,主要是因為我愛吃,也愛煮菜,對於美食相當有興趣,也順便藉著這個機會強迫自己多用英文寫作。最後,無給的工作果然撐不長,我就悄悄地從作者群消失了。回頭看看寫的那些文章,大部分都蠻 cheesy 的,因為他們要求簡短和商業化,所以寫了像是「吃港式飲茶的秘技」、「好吃的豆腐菜」、「水果也可以煮來吃」、「Belluvue 的鼎泰豐」等等自己也不是很驕傲的稿子。不過其他的還可以,所以把那些還可以的轉過來我的個人網站,做個紀念。

本篇:「吃各國食物的民俗講究」,原載:2010年12月29日

在台灣吃的日式小火鍋

A few weeks ago, I was meeting some friends at Naked Fish, a Japanese restaurant in Las Vegas. All of us ordered miso soup as a starter. When the soup came, our friend, Christine, asked the server, “Can you bring us some spoons?”

“Oh, we Japanese do not use spoons for miso soup,” she continued with a lighthearted tone, “Christine, since when did I give you a spoon when you ordered miso soup here?”

Japanese believe that a spoon would ladle out luck, which is bad karma. The authentic way is to drink the miso soup like drinking tea while using chopsticks to stir the content. Another interesting Japanese custom is that they slurp ramen because the motion is believed to make the noodles taste better. By bringing air in with the noodles, one can eat them hotter and therefore make the noodles more flavorful.

I grew up eating Chinese food. Chinese civilization has existed for thousands of years and there are of course many customs and superstitions associated with eating. The first time I brought some friends to a dim sum restaurant in the U.S., I gently tapped my index and middle fingers on the table whenever somebody poured me tea. One friend thought I was giving a signal meaning “enough!” In fact the gesture humbly means “thank you!”

I learned the gesture from my family, and it is hard to trace the real origin. However it is commonly believed that the gesture was invented by a servant of a Qing emperor on a disguised tour. The servant was terrified when his master poured him tea; however he couldn’t kowtow (to touch the forehead to the ground while kneeling, as an act of reverence) to risk exposing their identities. He wittily used two fingers to simulate kowtow to demonstrate his worship and obedience. Somehow it has come to mean “thank you” in a dim sum restaurant.

There are many other Chinese customs, but most of them are fading out. For example: 1. Never stick chopsticks straight up in a rice bowl because it looks like incense sticks in ashes honoring the dead. 2. Finish the rice in the bowl because left over rice will bring you a spouse with a pockmarked face. These customs reflect both traditional Chinese beliefs and the agricultural society the culture was once based on.

Once I visited Hyderabad India for a conference. Besides loving the Chai there, I had the chance to witness my colleague demonstrate how to eat Indian food with his fingers. It is considered a superior (not to mention authentic) way to enjoy Indian food. It was impressive to see his smooth action and elegant manner but I couldn’t even manage to break the nan with only one hand. He noticed my frustration and said “it is okay to use both hands; more and more people here have started to use forks too.”

I knew I was excused in the same manner that I would never consider it rude if somebody does not use chopsticks for Chinese food. However learning the authentic way is important and fun, especially when you travel to another country. The proverb, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” depicts it well. Using authentic customs is definitely the most effective way to shorten the distance between visitors and the locals.

新鮮的魚料之外,其他享受美味壽司的要訣

2010年秋天,我接了一個 case,幫一家位於西雅圖叫做 Restauranteers 的 start-up 寫關於吃食的稿子,他們說,希望很快地這個工作可以從無給變成有給,不過寫了七篇稿子後,無給還是無給,連個餐廳打折卷也沒賺到。不過當初接下這個工作,主要是因為我愛吃,也愛煮菜,對於美食相當有興趣,也順便藉著這個機會強迫自己多用英文寫作。最後,無給的工作果然撐不長,我就悄悄地從作者群消失了。回頭看看寫的那些文章,大部分都蠻 cheesy 的,因為他們要求簡短和商業化,所以寫了像是「吃港式飲茶的秘技」、「好吃的豆腐菜」、「水果也可以煮來吃」、「Belluvue 的鼎泰豐」等等自己也不是很驕傲的稿子。不過其他的還可以,所以把那些還可以的轉過來我的個人網站,做個紀念。

本篇:「新鮮的魚料之外,其他享受美味壽司的要訣」,原載:2010年12月9日

新鮮魚片蓋在酸酸甜甜的壽司飯上

I love sushi. I have had plenty of encounters with sushi when I had to close my eyes to fully comprehend the experience. The bliss, brought by a balanced combo of superb distinct ingredients, was so overwhelming that I had to shut down one of my senses to accommodate it. To realize what makes good sushi has become one of my major gourmet quests.

Many people would say high quality fresh fish or seafood is the key. Indeed. It is the star of sushi and usually the most memorable item. I ate once at a sushi bar in San Diego that orders sea urchins daily from the port to accommodate orders of uni nigiri. That was still the best uni nigiri I have ever tasted. However, fish is only part of the game. You can have high quality fresh fish but still mediocre sushi. There are many subjective and objective factors to consider in order to ensure a great sushi restaurant experience. The following suggestions will help you to coin an enjoyable personal sushi experience.

1. Find a personable and professional sushi chef

It takes years of discipline to become a bona fide sushi chef. I love to sit at the bar and interact with the sushi chefs. A good sushi chef knows his customers and offers great advice and guidance. For example, I have learned that the order in which I decide to eat my sushi pieces will help to guarantee that I enjoy every bite. I have been told to start with more bland white fish and end with rich fatty tuna.

A friend of mine learned from a chef at Shiro’s that some nigiri pieces do not need dipping sauce and should be eaten as is. Some sushi restaurants provide customized dipping sauce rather than the regular soy sauce. Certain types of fish slices are flavored when the sushi is prepared, and customers should not use dipping sauce to ruin the intended taste.

2. Understand that rice is the backbone of sushi

Sushi is defined as cold, cooked rice dressed in vinegar and usually topped or rolled with fish. Rice is the foundation of good sushi. Some sushi experts suggest eating an omelette nigiri as the first piece to assess the vinegar mixture. The proportion of rice and other ingredients is also important. Some say the topping of a nigiri should completely cover the rice; others claim that you need to be able to see the rice underneath the topping to observe the integrity of the rice ball. A golden ratio of rice and fish varies based on the ingredients used. A good piece of sushi offers an integrated experience: the final swallow should never be rice or fish alone. In addition, the size of sushi is important – it cannot be too big to put in the mouth. A big piece might make you feel like you got your “bang for your buck,” but in my opinion it kills the integrity and therefore sacrifices the continuous sensation.

3. Let every ingredient talk

While good sushi offers a united front, a basic principle of Japanese cuisine should always be present: let every ingredient talk. All the ingredients have a stance and they collaborate with each other to deliver the finest balance. For example, the seaweed paper is toasted to maintain the crispiness and enhance the aroma. No ingredient can dominate and impede on the presence of other ingredients. For example, avocado is an excellent addition to the sushi family. It has a smooth texture similar to the creamy taste of fatty fish but it does not have a distinct flavor to compete for the leading role. Excessive jalapeno and thin lemon slices on top of a shrimp tempura maki is definitely a fusion failure. The setup of sushi allows infinite possibilities of a creative fusion; however, each participating ingredient needs to have a voice.

4. Don’t overlook the accompaniments

Pickled ginger slices and wasabi are the typical sushi accompaniments. Be sure to eat a slice of pickled ginger between sushi pieces. Ginger sweeps out the residue from the previous piece and refreshes your taste buds to welcome the next enjoyment. Wasabi was introduced as a sushi accompaniment because of its antibacterial quality. With just a small amount, it can enhance the sushi experience. Most sushi restaurants use wasabi paste or wasabi powder; however, if you stumble upon a sushi restaurant which uses freshly grated wasabi, you will be impressed by the obvious difference. Fresh wasabi is often a good enough reason for me to become a regular customer at a sushi restaurant.

Great sushi is a fine balance achieved by the right distribution of solid individual ingredients. Use the right amount of condiments to enhance the flavor. Follow the guidance of a trustworthy sushi chef. Allow every encounter with sushi to be so fulfilling that you have to close your eyes to fully comprehend the experience.

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