13 months
Jan 6:
sweet home, taipei
Jan 7:
kao hsiung reunion
Jan 10:
kenting yee haw!
Jan 13:
the low down
taiwan gallery
all galleries
next location

Indra statue in National Palace Museum
Taipei, Taiwan; Jan 12, 2005

culinary crash course

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 it looks):
  - 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.
sometimes 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.)

complicated 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!

Argh - I'm starving now!

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