Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oyster omelettes (圓環邊蚵仔煎)

Oyster pancake

Normally I joke around about food (because food should make you happy of course), but when it comes to 蚵仔煎(oyster omelettes), it's serious business. I never really explained this very well, but here goes. If a truck full of fresh oysters ran into another truck carrying chicken eggs, and that collision caused another truck full of potato starch to crash, and some random passerby sprinkles perfectly cut spring scallions and cabbage on the mix, and the giant mixture of random ingredients cooked on a super hot section of a road, well then you'd end up with oyster pancakes. Or something like that...? In all honesty, I have no clue how it's made, and I don't really care. I just know that this shit is bananas, and that my knees go weak when I see it.

圓環邊蚵仔煎 (Yuan Huan Side Oyster Omelette)

Of course, if you want a truly sublime experience, go where the locals do. Sure I could've taken the easy way out and just gone to 西門町 or 士林夜市 and gotten any of a number of generic renditions, but what's the point? Yeah they're all good, but this dish has the ability to be magical. Instead, I went to 寧夏夜市 (Ning Xia Night Market)... to a shop called 圓環邊蚵仔煎, which translates to 'Yuan Huan Side Oyster Omelettes.' I mean come on... they've been cranking out oyster omelettes for 45 years already, I'm pretty sure they know more than that 25 year old college kid working part-time in 士林.

Old guy makin' my omelette

Damn. Look at him. He's so OLD! This is the OG-san that made my omelettes. Just look at his face. That's the face of a man that just don't give a fuck. All he wants to do is flip his omelettes. I will admit I was kind of worried that his sweat was dripping onto the plate, but I guess that comes with the experience. I mean, I honestly don't care so long as it tastes good. Oh, and good it was. Perfectly cooked, the pancake was slightly unsettled, with the potato starch reaching a chewy gelatin-mochi like consistency. The oysters were all still jiggly, for lack of a better word, and the flavor was just spot on. Normally, I'd lather this in the slightly sweet soy miso sauce, but this one didn't need it. For 60 NT ($2), it was probably the best oyster omelette I've had in Taiwan... ever. How's that for an endorsement?

排骨湯 (pork chop soup)

I also ordered a serving of 排骨湯 (pork chop soup) for 50 NT (~$1.60), in which you take a fried pork chop, dice it up into smaller pieces with the bone still attached, and put it in pork broth with daikon radishes. While that sounds awesome if I just list the ingredients... it wasn't. The pork broth was stewed using 中藥, which translates to Chinese medicine. If you know what that is, I'm sorry, since you were probably forced to drink it as a kid. If you don't, it's medicinal bags of herbs that parents put into soup that has a uniquely awful aftertaste. Well yeah, this place did that to the pork chop soup. Thanks. You ruined something that probably would've been splendid.


Sherry said...

Did he make that humongous omelet just for you? That's pretty awesome!!

Nicholas said...

LOL no! Haha, that's actually like 5 or 6 omelettes, the actual thing is about a dinner plate in size. I think he'd go out of business if he sold it in bulk for $2 since each has about a dozen or so oysters?

Danny said...

oyster heaven. this is one of those things that i should learn how to make at home. but you run into this problem of oysters... you can't use really great ones because hell, just eat 'em raw. you can't use real crappy ones b/c you'll get sick. you need 'em just right. the goldilochs of oysters. i don't know where that exists though. haha

Nicholas said...

...but the recipe is in the first paragraph, didn't you see it? :p

I think the problem with cooking this in the US is just like you said. Good oysters cost a shit ton, and you should eat them raw, and cheap oysters are gonna make you go to the bathroom hardcore. Sigh, no where in the US are you gonna find oysters cheap enough to use by the dozen in an omelette.

Anonymous said...

it's true. the old guy has more experience, but don't always underestimate the 25 year old... at least in the case of a 24 year old in Kuala Lumpur my husband happened to talk to, the guy already had 12 years of experience under his belt! his fried hokkien noodles were damn good, but his dad's are admittedly still better.

Rodzilla said...

Haha, I like that the scallion passerby got out of all the violdent crashes. Jiggly is actually a great descriptive word; I think I want one.

Anonymous said...

This is my new favourite site. I will come to you whenever I'm homesick. <3

wyvern said...

Wow, this one of my favorite... Will sure to drop by to try this out.. Really makes me hungry just from the pics alone...

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