20 July 2013

Flavors of Taiwan: Lǔ​ Ròu Fàn (滷肉飯)

Lu Rou Fan 滷肉飯

I've been missing Asian food.  Funny, right?  I mean, here I am in Asia...  But, it's actually pretty hard to find legit, non-Korean Asian food here.  Last week I couldn't take the cravings anymore, and a friend suggested that I try making lǔ​ ròu fàn (滷肉飯), a classic Taiwanese dish.  Armed with a shopping list of ingredients, I made a 1 1/2 hour trek by foot and by subway to the other side of Busan, where, I had heard, there were a couple little "international food" shops that sold non-Korean Asian groceries.

It's easier to find European and U.S. groceries and brands in Korea than it is to find Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, or even Japanese groceries and produce.  Sigh.

The shopping experience was fraught with funny moments.  Initially, I tried explaining in Korean to the shop lady what I needed, but as I had my shopping list written in English and Chinese, the urge to explain in Chinese was overwhelming and the cognitive dissonance was apparently way too much--and eventually both brain and tongue gave up and went blank for a while.  So, I started browsing, regrouped and cleared my brain of the Chinese, and then tried pointing to items that looked about right and asked the shop lady what they were, to confirm if my suspicions were correct.  As it turned out, however, she herself didn't really even know what some of the items on her shelves were!  Thankfully, in the end, I was able to find all I needed (except for five spice powder--I just subbed extra star anise and cloves) in that distant neighborhood far into the other side of Busan.

Back at home, I set about following Taiwan Duck's recipe for this absolutely delicious lǔ​ ròu fàn.  It turned out fragrant, sweet, and salty, perfectly hitting the mark of the classic Taiwanese flavor profile that I'd been missing.  Closing my eyes and savoring the flavors, I could really imagine I was back in Taiwan.  Hooray!

Lu Rou Fan

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