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Saturday 10 August 2013

Let the Shrimps Roll!

When we were in Tainan, my godsister's sister who is residing there obligingly became our tour guide of the day. She was on a scooter leading my godsister's car all around the city to the tourist attractions. When it came to lunch time, she brought us to this unassuming shrimp roll place for lunch. The shop does not bear any posh name but just Chou's Shrimp Roll (周氏蝦捲). When I saw the hall of fame on the wall, I knew I was at the right place! The celebrities who had been here includes the supermodel Lin Zhi Ling (林志玲) and Sa Sa (莎莎) of the Taiwanese lifestyle TV programme.


This place serves one of the Tianan local snacks called dan zai mian (擔仔麵). We tried both dry and soup versions of the noodles and they were all very good. The dry noodles were more al dente than the noodles in the soup by default. The soup was full with the shrimp and fried garlic flavours. The coriander leaves added certain garden flavour to the noodles.



Apart from the noodles, we also had the fish balls. They were really chewy and could bounce like table-tennis balls! I could tell that they were made from 100% fish paste as each fish ball was full of the fish flavour.


Since this place uses the shrimp roll as its name, we couldn't leave without tasting their speciality. These shrimp rolls were made from grilled shrimps, minced pork, fish paste, celery and onions wrapped in pig stomach membrane. They were deep fried to perfection with thin batter. These were the best shrimp rolls I have ever tasted! The skin was crispy and the filling was very tender and flavourful.


Before we left, we took some squid balls on the go. They were just heavenly! They have become the best squid balls on my gastronomic journal.


Thursday 8 August 2013

A Dutch Fort in Formosa

Formosa was a name given to Taiwan by the Dutch during their occupation of Taiwan in the 17th century. One of the fortresses built by them is called Fort Zeelandia (熱蘭遮城) which took them ten years to build (1624-1634). It originally had 3 storeys with the highest storey as the administrative centre of the Dutch occupation.


During the Qing Dynasty, the Dutch surrendered to Zheng Chen Gong (鄭成功) who was exiling from the Qing Dynasty army and invaded Taiwan in 1662. Since then, the Chinese took over the fortress and symbolised the first Chinese occupation of Taiwan.


In 1683, the Qing Dynasty army invaded Taiwan and defeated Zheng's army. The Qing Dynasty army shifted the administrative centre to Provintia and Fort Zeelandia became deserted and started to deteriorate.


The British invaded Taiwan in 1873 and one of the cannon shots was a direct hit on the firearm storage building in Fort Zeelandia. Most of the fortress walls fell apart and the whole place became a ruin.


There is only a part of the fort walls remaining until today. The original fort walls were built by the soldiers of the Dutch East India Company with red bricks imported from Batavia.


The mortar used to assemble the red bricks was made from glutinous rice and coral reefs. Therefore, the remaining wall is also called the 'glutinous rice wall' (糯米牆).


Apart from the remaining red-brick fort wall, the rest of Fort Zeelandia as we see it today was rebuilt during the Japanese occupation. The current name of the site is in Chinese called Fort Anping (安平古堡).

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