Fri, Apr 13, 2007 - Page 14 News List

Ragin' Cajun

By Ron Brownlow  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan is getting a taste of the real deal during the New Orleans Jazz and Cajun Flavors Promotion, which runs through the end of May.

PHOTO: RON BROWNLOW, TAIPEI TIMES

This is American fried rice," said US Department of Agriculture representative Keith Schneller in American-accented Mandarin, as he passed out portions of jambalaya for a group of chefs at the Taipei Vocational Cooking School on Wednesday. The occasion: a Cajun cooking class conducted by Louisiana culinary guru Roy Lyons. The word Cajun refers to a part of the southern US settled by French-speakers, as well as their culture and food. Jambalya, which is not fried, is named after the French word for "ham" and an African word meaning "rice." Several Taipei restaurants such as Malibu West and the Cosmopolitan Grill already serve Cajun food — there's even a New Orleans Kitchen on Roosevelt Road across from National Taiwan University. But this was the first opportunity most of the assembled chefs had to see how it's really done.

"What we made before was just a copy," said New Orleans Kitchen's Wang Wen-yu (王文裕), who said he's thinking of adopting Chef Roy's jambalaya and gumbo recipes. "I might add this to my spring menu," said Malibu West's William Gan, as he devoured one of Chef Roy's duck and chicken wraps. Earlier, Gan and Wang watched as Roy demonstrated his techniques to roughly 50 chefs from two-dozen restaurants. Among the advice: taste jambalaya's seasoning in the water before you cook the rice; and use Louisiana hot sauce — not Tabasco sauce — to flavor buffalo wings.

Most food promotions held in Taiwan cater to five-star hotels and expensive restaurants. But the New Orleans Jazz and Cajun Flavors Promotion, which runs through the end of May, actively sought the participation of mid-range places like Wang and Gan's. Members of the general public will get the chance to see Chef Roy give free Cajun cooking classes at Jason's Supermarket in Taipei 101 Mall tomorrow from noon to 2pm and on Sunday from 2pm to 4pm. And restaurants across the island have signed up to serve one or two of Chef Roy's recipes through May. (See last week's Taipei Times story.) If the promotion is successful, expect to see "American fried rice" on the menu of your local Western restaurant.

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