Tribulations of a Timid Taiwanese Trainee-Chef - Episode 7
I was reflecting on the series title (again) and was thinking that maybe I should add “Taiwanese-American” to the title. I recently expressed the thought that most often, I don’t really feel “American” or “Asian” but I feel like I fit very squarely in the middle, in that “Asian American” category that some people don’t like being in. But I am very okay with being “Asian American” (or to be more specific, “Taiwanese American” and maybe I should also put that into the title.
Anyways. This post almost didn’t happen, because I was barely here in July and I barely cooked at home even when I was. I was prepared to use a backup dish of something really boring (cabbage – just cabbage. Steamed, served with some carrots. But you have to get the right kind of cabbage, not Napa cabbage or the green orb kind, but the kind that’s flat and white. White cabbage? Is it lettuce? Upon a quick Google, I think “white cabbage” sounds right.) but thankfully July is a month that my mom is back in California, which means I finally went to Ranch 99 and cook at home.
There were multiple rows of Asian sauces and pickles and condiments, and after some questioning over which types of pickled cucumbers to get (for the record, one from a Taiwanese brand instead of the one from China) I happily returned home with my loot ready to make 瓜子肉 (guazi rou), or pickles with ground meat that is steamed. It doesn’t sound that appetizing, but it most definitely is.
In addition to the chopped garlic and pickles and the juice from the pickled cucumbers (I never knew they were cucumbers. I thought they were just small salty things) we added a little bit of sugar to offset the saltiness from the pickle juice. We microwaved a small sample to see if it was seasoned enough, which makes me wonder how large of a portion I can make in the microwave instead of having to use a steamer.
This photo was very much staged and still did not turn out that great because of the lighting and ground meat is just not very photogenic, but best believe that I ate two bowls of rice to pair with the 瓜子肉 and didn’t regret it at all.