What am I eating?
Kao Fu (middle of the plate) – looks like tofu but is actually made of a type of grain. It has the sponginess of a wet crouton, but holds up like an aged tofu or wheat gluten, so it soaked up all of the delicious sauce that it was cooked in.
Yam leaves (upper left) – took forever to strip these off the stems, but they taste like a more flavorful spinach, and has the crunchiness of a younger vegetable like a Dou Miao (pea shoot).
Tang Yuan (butter off white chunks) – they’re usually perfectly round but it was 6am, and we were running low on time. Sometimes they would also have red bean paste inside. In this case they were just plain. Made with starch and water, its uncooked form is a fun non-newtonian paste. When cooked, it’s nice and bouncy like really light Asian gnocchi.
Mi Jiu (the white goo in the middle) – Fermented rice. Asian children’s entry food into alcoholism. It is boiled, but it tastes the way sweet sake smells. It flavors the soup, and adds a little kick when you use the really fermented kind 😉 It can also be eaten raw with a spoon before you boil off the alcohol.
I was given soup in what was practically a plate in the car. Luckily they heard me when I complained and switched this disaster for a bowl later. Good thing they did because the driver slowed down for no one and nothing – not even speed bumps and train tracks.
Dou Miao (far left) – also called Pea Shoots. They are pea shoots. Really tender leaves that tastes like peas. Well loved by Chinese people; for some reason some Americans cannot taste it. These in particular were a little old. I don’t know why we bought them.
Sliced meat (2nd from the left) – Japanese call it Shabu shabu (swish swish) because you’re supposed to swish swish it in the hot pot and then eat its tender goodness. These were from a chinese store and slightly thicker than the Japanese version.
Fish/Seafood balls (to the left-back of the pot) – The pinkish ones are shrimp balls, and the white ones are fish balls that were turned into dumplings. The fish balls had really flavorful seafood goo in the middle.
Fried Tofu (front far right) – Spongy and tofu-ey on the inside, very firm skin on the outside so that it’s easy to pick up and has a nice texture contrast.
Rice Noodles (2nd from the right) – They were as thick as udon, but very round and almost clear. They were basically massive vermicelli. It tasted really good with a spicy peanut sauce.