Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

My Eat Drink Man Woman Taiwanese Dinner... How Everything Turned Out

Last night's dinner was smooth as silk. All the prep work I did the night before went a long way toward making yesterday's cooking tasks a breeze. However, it still took me all day in the kitchen to get it on the table by eight.

The Shrimp & Water Chestnut croquettes were definitely my favorite. I rolled them in panko bread crumbs and they fried up crispy and golden. As an added bonus, I ended up with a dozen pork dumplings, which were originally intended for the Hot & Sour Soup. But the soup had enough other ingredients that it didn't need dumplings, so I baked them in the oven and they turned out crispy and savory. Both were so tasty that they didn't even need the Hoisin Sauce I served with them. The Hot & Sour Soup turned out just as I'd envisioned (minus the dumplings). Rene loved it.

The San Pei Chicken was an unexpected success. For such a simple recipe, it was one of the tastiest dishes on the table. All it took to prepare were two chicken leg quarters and equal parts of sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine, simmered for 6 hours in the crock pot the night before. To prepare for serving, I thickened the sauce with a little cornstarch in a saucepan on the stove, and baked the chicken legs in the oven for half an hour. The sauce made a lovely brown glaze with a surprisingly complex flavor.

The Pork Stir-Fry with Chinese Vegetables was perfect. The sauce was velvety and delicious, and the vegetables were cooked just right. It was a nice complement to the Fried Rice, which included diced ham, pineapple, carrots, peas, scallions, garlic and ginger.

The baked Tilapia fish with Chinese Chili Sauce was another success. I'd never baked a whole fish before, so it was a new culinary experience for me. The fish was moist, tender and flavorful, and the sauce was translucent, slightly sweet and spicy. It was another dish that Rene especially enjoyed.

The Spicy Shrimp Stir-Fry was also tasty, but it wasn't extraordiinary. I had hoped that it would be more crispy, however, the recipe called for 3/4 cup of stock, so it was much more saucy than I'd envisioned. Nevertheless, it was delicious.

Needless to say, with all that food, we didn't make it to the Lychee Fruits and Pineapple in Rice Wine that I'd planned for dessert. But they will keep until another evening when we're not so overstuffed.

Amazingly, I managed to keep the dishes done throughout the meal preparation, so my kitchen wasn't a disaster area. Tidying up and putting away the leftovers was quick and easy, and the rest of the clean-up was not a huge chore today.

We also enjoyed the film Eat Drink Man Woman. Of course, we'd already seen Tortilla Soup, which is a Latino version of the same screenplay by director Ang Lee, so we were familiar with the plot. We're undecided as to which one we liked better, so we're going to watch Tortilla Soup again this evening.

All things considered, my Eat Drink Man Woman Taiwanese dinner was one of the easiest and tastiest Dinner & a Movie projects to date. So be sure to check back in the next couple of days for my photos, recipes and film review.