"Eat often and eat well"- the adage perfectly encapsulates the Taiwanese love for food. And that was exactly what I experienced at the Hao Chi Taiwan cooking demo and lunch event hosted by Masterchef Eddie Liu at Shang Palace restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel Jakarta last week.
Visiting from Shangri-La Far Eastern Plaza Hotel in Taipei, Chef Eddie -- who is also an assistant director of food and beverages there -- cooked six delightful Taiwanese dishes for media guests.
What Chef Eddie cooked for lunch that day was far from fancy. Known as an ethnic and cultural melting pot, Taiwan's cuisine is strongly influenced by that of southern mainland China as well as Japan, and thus has an abundance of street food -- and they do take their street food seriously.
The six dishes included Tainan-style deep-fried shrimp roll, pan-fried egg with preserved radish, steamed chicken rice with rice wine, steamed glutinous rice with mud crab, braised chicken with basil leaves and braised king prawn in lobster oil.
Taiwanese food is at heart simple and easy to cook with an abundance of sauces and seasoning.
Chef Eddie showed guests how to cook pan-fried egg with preserved radish, which, it turns out, anyone can easily make at home with only a few minutes preparation.
First, mix leeks, eggs and salted radish in a bowl. Then heat oil in a pan and add the mixture.
Unlike a usual omelet that uses only a small amount of oil, after we put the mixture into the pan, Chef Eddie added more oil until the mixture was soaked in oil. Then he waited a few minute before flipping the fried egg around in the pan.
Taiwan is famed for its seafood, and Chef Eddie also showed guests how to prepare steamed glutinous rice with mud crab. He revealed that he used female crab because, to him, it tasted sweeter than the male.
While the original recipe calls for pork belly, in Jakarta Chef Eddie prepared the glutinous rice with shredded chicken.
Pieces of crab were then arranged on top of the rice in a dim sum basket, which was then left to steam for approximately 15 minutes until it was ready to be served.
During his demonstration, Chef Eddie used copious quantities of soy sauce, garlic and ginger, which are essential ingredients in Taiwanese cuisine. Cooking techniques such as stir-frying, steaming and slow cooking in a pot are all commonly used in preparing the country's meals.
Chef Eddie will impress guests with the enticing flavors of authentic Taiwanese cuisine at Shang Palace at Shangri-La Jakarta until Oct. 19.
Diners can taste all his signature dishes, including the braised king prawn in lobster oil and steamed glutinous rice with mud crab.
Exclusive Taiwanese brunch as well as weekend dim sum brunch are also available during this period.