A Taiwanese wedding banquet

So one of the reasons for returning to Taiwan was to celebrate my Sister's wedding with my extended family in Taiwan. As you may have noticed food is a very central theme in Asian culture. What's that title picture got to do with it? Nothing. Actually that's a picture of the rock we were suppose to climb but got rained out. We did manage a nice hike, but I'm sure that was a poor replacement for my brother in-law who was looking forward to the climb. Anyhow it just seemed like a nice picture to lead us into "The Banquet", I'm not making light of the title, 13 courses of food with no fillers. That's right no rice, no "extra carbs" just lots and lots of food. 

Ok there's 13 courses, no need for a lot of my yammering it'll be like the last post. 

Small plate appetizers to start us off. I'll spare you the other photo. We have smoked tofu, bitter melon, roasted peanuts, lilly flowers, pickled daikon radish, and pickled seaweed. 
Seafood platter with blanched squid, shrimp, and crab. Served with a garlic soy vinegar sauce.

Out comes the sashimi course. On the upper left is one of he largest oysters I've eaten. The really new one for me is near the right of center. It's fish that has been sliced to expose the yellow roe. I'm not sure if it's flying fish roe or not. All of the fish was exceptionally firm and fresh. I guess that's what happens when you're near the source.
Tea smoked duck. This is a traditional presentation of the duck where you have the crepes on the left and you build your own "burrito" with duck, plum sauce, green onion and cucumber. Unlike Peking Duck the skin is not separated from the meat and the duck is smoked with a wok with tea leaves to impart flavor. 
Abalone soup. This isn't actually abalone, but a cousin that is many times smaller.

I need to get the name for this. It resembled a noodle dish. It's actually a large helping of vegetables, mushroom, and egg. There's baby shark fin here. I know it's controversial, I'm simply a guest here don't shoot me.
Braised beef short rib. 

I've seen this ingredient on the show "Chopped" it's called "black boned chicken soup". The chicken is a black skinned and black boned chicken. The meat is also darker in color but otherwise tastes like regular chicken. The traditional preparation is a soup that is very "boo" or "hearty". I really have a hard time explaining this one. It's a very thick and rich broth infused with a lot of traditional Chinese herbs and medicinals.
This fish is called golden knife fish. We were not sure what to make of this. Apparently the fish in it's natural habitat stands face down and thus looks like a kitchen knife. The staff insisted that we eat the fish freshly cooked, because as it cooled the meat got tougher. It's cooked "white water" style which is a quick poach and finish with hot oil over a bed of green onion, garlic and ginger.

This one is a new one for me, i've never encountered this dish. It's a taro puff (but dense in the center) topped with a egg white mixture. I figured out it had egg white, mushroom, and some sort of fish stock, we debated if the prepartion was a quick fry or steam. The Taro Puff was accompanied by pickled vegetables.

Sea Cucumber cooked with LIly stems. Sea cucumber is one of these ingrediants I don't quite understand. I need to do a bit more research into the benefits. It's usually sold in a dehydrated form and re-consituted. It's got a squishy and somewhat slimey texture (making it hard for chopsticks). It' always served as part of an "very nice" meal but usually is flavorless.

The first part of dessert is a sweet soup of red dates, white "wood ear" (mushrooms) and lotus seeds. This also considered a "Boo" or "hearty" dish reserved for the winter. It's December and we're rocking 60 to 70F. 

Finally, every Chinese meal, whether a banquet or a meal at friends house ends in fruit. 

Needless to say no one walked away hungry. It was a ridiculous amount of food. And I really enjoyed having such a wonderful meal with my family here in Taiwan. It's a rare treat to be able to get everyone together. Ok I think there are a few more posts in me before I head out of here next week.


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