Indra statue in National Palace Museum
Taipei, Taiwan; Jan 12, 2005
--Susan; Jan 7, 2005
We can’t write about Taiwan without doing
an entry about Taiwanese food – it’s so good!
Of course, we have the added advantage of getting a lot of
home cooked meals, but the restaurant food and the street
food are also excellent. For those of you unfamiliar with
Taiwanese food, here’s a quick primer (some of these
don't really have a name in English so I've called it like
- Fried donut with sweetened, hot, soy milk (a typical breakfast):
Add the sugar at the table or counter to the soymilk and stir
it up. Dip the donut into the soymilk and chomp away (if you
like, you can drink up all the milk at the end).
- Sesame dough pocket with various fillings (another typical
breakfast): Split the warm and puffy rectangle pocket down
the center (width-wise) and jam something delicious inside
- some favorites are a fried donut (same as above) or a green
onion omelette. Enjoy.
they're cute, too!
- Bakery breads: you’ll see (and smell) bakeries all
around Taiwan. You just pick up a tray and pair of tongs as
you enter the door and pick fresh-baked yummies from the shelves.
The breads are light, soft and fluffy, with a hint of sweetness.
A lot of buns are filled with either a red-bean paste, a coconut
and custard mixture, or salty shredded pork. For a delicious
and savory snack, try the one with green-onions on top.
- Breakfast sushi roll (hold the seaweed!): Sticky rice
filled with shredded pork, some tasty pickles and that yummy
fried donut again, rolled up like a sushi roll. My favorite.
- Banana-leaf pyramids (a quick snack or lunch): You see
these all over the street and in restaurants. They are a small
leafy triangle usually tied-up with white twine. They should
be hot when you eat them and are filled with sticky rice,
some meat, a stewed egg and a mushroom (plus other variations).
Untie the twine and unwrap the leaves, then pour a little
soy sauce and spicy chili sauce on top. Maybe you should order
two (or three ‘cause I want one). You can also get a
vegetarian version with peanuts instead of egg and meat.
- Dumplings and pot-stickers (lunch or dinner): Thin sheets
of flour filled typically with pork and cabbage, but also
with shrimp, beef, mushroom, veggies, etc. Then they are boiled
(to make dumplings) or pan-fried (to make pot-stickers). Sauces
vary according to taste, but the typical combination is sliced
ginger with vinegar and soy sauce. Be careful not to burn
your mouth trying to shove these in too fast.
- Green onion pancakes (a great snack or side dish): Flour
rolled into several layers with green onions and salt and
then pan-fried. They sound simple, but they taste SOOOO good.
Grace’s favorite and therefore one of the first things
he learned to say in Taiwanese (tsong yo bing).
- Convenience store sushi (snack on the run): at first
it sounds dangerous, but really, it’s okay. These
are triangle shaped rice blocks (either plain or stuffed
with salmon, tuna or ham etc) with seaweed covering the
outside. Be sure to follow the numbered directions on the
packaging very carefully. The incredible thing is that the
seaweed is kept separate from the rice (by a thin plastic
layer), keeping it fresh, until you open up the package.
Amazing! These are worth trying for the pure genius of the
packing technology, but they’re tasty, too! (And to
be fair, I think they may have originated in Japan.)
to unwrap, but worth the effort
- Hot Pot (lunch or dinner at a sit-down restaurant): You’ll
recognize these restaurants by the steam coming from the counter
of every seat. You (or you and your friends) get your own
boiling pot, into which you put veggies and meat, removing
them yourself when they’re ready. Then you dip them
into a sauce and gobble them up. The sauce is usually an egg
mixed with hot sauce, barbecue sauce (Asian kind, not the
sweet and tangy Texas kind), soy sauce and cilantro. Boil
the silver noodles at the end of the meal and scoop out into
your bowl to cook the egg and enjoy the delicious broth.
P.S. And don’t miss out on the fruit
in Taiwan! It’s amazingly juicy and delicious!