Isabel takes us on a food tour of Taiwan:
Greetings from Taiwan! Even though the country is fairly unrecognized, Taiwan has its share of scrumptious foods. Here are some of my favorites:
1. Ba wan 肉圓
Yum! Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. A mixture of rice flour, tapioca starch, and sweet potato starch makes up the dough of this almost-translucent snack. The dough is then made into a “pouch” and stuffed with various items, such as pork, mushroom, and bamboo shoots. After it is put in a sauce made of rice flour and water, it is traditionally drizzled with soy sauce and hot sauce. Of course, if you’re not one for spicy foods, it’s ok to enjoy your ba wan without the extra kick. I’ve tried a few of them, but my favorite is still the one in the town where we stay, Tanzih Ba wan.
2. Beef Noodles 牛肉麵
This is one of my favorites! These handmade Chinese noodles are swimming in a bowl of savory beef broth with season fresh veggies and chunks of tender beef. Not much else needs to be said. It’s so good! I can imagine it is especially warming during the winter, but this is all year food! In the summer you can enjoy this with a nice cold drink that brings out the fragrance and flavor in the soup. What’s not to love? Well, unless you’re a vegetarian.
3. Shaved Ice 创冰
This is the best dessert ever! Pretty much the only rule to this is that it has to be shaved ice and it has to be tasty! You can go crazy with all of the flavors. My personal favorites are sweet red bean ice and mango ice. At home we tried to imitate it. I thought our sweet red bean one was pretty good, but the mango one was terrible. The mangos were all sour. All we did was get some sugar-water, sweet red beans, and condensed milk and mixed/ put them on some shaved ice. It was really good.
4. Sun cakes 太陽餅
Sun cakes are one of the best pastries ever. I eat them for breakfast all the time. A very delectable pastry, the sun cakes are best eaten hot with a tall glass of milk. Unfortunately, the original bakery, the Taiyang Bakery (太陽堂), closed down when its owner decided to retire. Even so, there are other bakeries that make this flaky-on-the-outside and gooey-on-the-inside treat.
5. Fried popcorn chicken鹽酥雞
Ahh… this is one is probably my favorite. Often found in the night market, which I went to tonight I might add, it is a salty and peppery popcorn chicken. When you are at the market you eat while you walk. They’re hot when you get them, tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside with a generous coat of salt and pepper. They are heavenly. If you ever come to Taiwan, do not miss this experience!! However, some of them have bones, so watch out!