Beijing Did It true
Beijing-Do-It-True. Another terribly catchy Mandarin translation.
Feast. Jumbo-fried shrimp wonton. Headcheese cold cuts. Crispy chicken. Fatty pork with toasted bao.
Rock and I had “Beijing Do It True” on the food list, since Rock had taken the time before to create a “Taiwan food map” in order to bring some order to our chaotic excursions. This was not to say that there weren’t disappointments; there was a beef noodle shop that we tried for three times. Yes, THREE times. First time, it was closed, so we assumed it was because we got there too late. (Fine, alright). Second time, there was renovation sign that magically appeared in the 36 or so hours between the first and the second time, signifying that it would reopen in a week or so. (Gettin’ just a tad annoying). Third time, the opening date was pushed back to a time on the calendar when neither of us were going to be in Taiwan (really now?). We eventually gave up. No way in hell were we going to waste anymore time traversing to that side of town.
Next up on the unordered list was Beijing Do It True, a restaurant that was and is supposedly famous for seating George Bush Sr., if my memory recalls correctly. This was witnessed by everyone who entered the restaurant by a strategically placed photo on the wall, advertising that particular moment in history. I’m not too keen on restaurants needing to broadcast past patrons; it’s interesting, but unnecessary. Just because someone famous ate at a restaurant doesn’t change my perception of the food (although hardcore psychologists may disagree). The association is vague. Even worse are places that just post random people with their friends on a wall, found in many boba shops. It’s just silliness. I know you’re a culinary establishment, and I’m pretty sure you’ve got turnover of patrons. Right. I’m going to try and not make any more further comments about the taste in advertising-decor. I was there for the food.
Even before the menu arrived, a petite waitress came around with appetizer offerings; Rock took the liberty of saying, “oh, is this all for us? We’ll take all of them!” Unfortunately, we quickly learned that they were the equivalent of 1.5 U.S. dollars each, which in Taiwan, is an exorbitant price to pay for a small appetizer dish. Mandarin-posh banchan could be acquired cheaply elsewhere, and especially in Taiwan; there’s plenty of things to acquire at a cheap price. That being said, we couldn’t pass up on the headcheese.
Next up was roasted chicken. The equivalent of roasted duck, but done with a bird exchange. Salty, crispy skin with tender meat and all the delicious gelatinous bits at the ends, a particularly refined salivating concept both visually and orthonasally. Even after the meat is finished, there are dried sinewy ends near the bottom half of the legs that some mean caramelization and concentration in flavor; it’s a bit hard to chew, but once you’ve gotten there, you can’t not finish it. I call it the “rotisserie chicken experience.” The first bit starts with the crispy skin, then the tender meat, and finally, the crispy-almost-sticky skin with all the crunchy parts. The final part, which people usually don’t do, is crack the ends of the bone, split the bone down its length, and suck the juices out, vampire-style. No waste. You could even reboil the bones in a stock to get some extra goodness (although it wouldn’t be terribly sanitary or socially acceptable to bag bones from a restaurant, sorry).
The braised pork that arrived shortly there after was part of a greater whole. The entirety was supposed to be merged with a sesame bun. The addiction scheme is visually outlined below:
The last item was essentially a fried wonton in a jumbo-stick format. This was stuffed with minced pork, shrimp, and savory vegetables. The texture was not like baby food, and the filling split cleanly with each bite, which made it pleasant to eat because the filling to wrapper ratio stays consistent.
When making a ground shrimp/pork/beef/meat filling, the key is to keep the center moist and keep it coherent. Ground beef, for example, sometimes has the issue of “cracking,” and forming pieces of a hamburger instead of a complete patty. This of course, to the cook, is a more than slight annoyance. How do we fix this?
One way to get meat proteins to bind together, is the use of a coarse / semi-fine grind in a 1:1 ratio. The understanding of this particular idea is courtesy from America’s Test Kitchen. The semi-fine grind exposes more surface surface area, and the natural enzymes of the meat break down the myosin (fiber filament proteins), which over time, form a sticky glue to hold the ground meat in a coherent mass. The coarse grind is simply there to preserve texture.
The addition of salt speeds up the above process, and also flavors the meat as well. Because of salt’s hydroscopic action, salt draws the myosin out of the muscle fibers with greater gusto, and allows an greater amount of moisture to be retained due to chloride ion repulsion. This preserves juiciness (as long as you don’t blast the poor thing with excessive heat over excessive time).
So, the recommendation for ground meat? Run it all through once on coarse, take half of it, run it through again on coarse, salt it, ball it, flavor it, let it chill, and let the enzymes hang out. Thanks ATK and science.