Taiwanese cuisine

Taiwanese cuisine
Taiwanese cuisine.jpg

Taiwanese cuisine (traditional Chinese: 台灣菜; simplified Chinese: 台湾菜; pinyin: Táiwāncài; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Tâi-oân liāu-lí) has several variations. In addition to the following representative dishes from the people of Hoklo (Hō-ló) ethnicity (see Taiwanese people), there are also Aboriginal, Hakka, and local derivatives of Chinese cuisines (one famous example of the last is beef noodle soup).

Taiwanese cuisine itself is often associated with influences from mid to southern provinces of Mainland China, most notably from the province of Fujian (Hokkien), but influences from all of Mainland China can easily be found. A notable Japanese influence exists due to the period when Taiwan was under Japanese rule. Traditional Chinese food can be found in Taiwan, alongside Fujian and Hakka-style as well as native Taiwanese dishes, includes dishes from Guangdong, Jiangxi, Chaoshan, Shanghai, Hunan, Sichuan and Beijing.


Ingredients and culture

Pork, seafood, rice, and soy are very common ingredients. Beef is far less common, and some Taiwanese (particularly the elderly generation) still refrain from eating it. This is in part due to the considerations of some Taiwanese Buddhists, a traditional reluctance towards slaughtering precious cattle needed for agriculture, and an emotional attachment and feeling of gratefulness and thanks to the animals traditionally used for very hard labour. Curiously, the Taiwanese version of beef noodle soup remains one of the most popular dishes in Taiwan, in spite of this traditional aversion.

Taiwan's cuisine has also been influenced by its geographic location. Living on a crowded island, the Taiwanese had to look aside from the farmlands for sources of protein. As a result, seafood figures prominently in their cuisine. This seafood encompasses many different things, from large fish such as tuna and grouper, to sardines and even smaller fish such as anchovies. Crustaceans, squid, and cuttlefish are also eaten.

Because of the island's sub-tropical location, Taiwan has an abundant supply of various fruit, such as papayas, starfruit, melons, and citrus fruit. A wide variety of tropical fruits, imported and native, are also enjoyed in Taiwan. Other agricultural products in general are rice, corn, tea, pork, poultry, beef, fish, and other fruits and vegetables. Fresh ingredients in Taiwan are readily available from markets.

In many of their dishes, the Taiwanese have shown their creativity in their selection of spices. Taiwanese cuisine relies on an abundant array of seasonings for flavour: soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, fermented black beans, pickled daikon, pickled mustard greens, peanuts, chili peppers, cilantro (sometimes called Chinese parsley), and a local variety of basil (九層塔 jiǔcéngtǎ, literally "nine storey pagoda"). The resulting dishes thus combine and form interesting tastes which make Taiwanese cuisine simple in format yet complex in experience.

An important part of Taiwanese cuisine are xiaochi,[1] substantial snacks along the lines of Spanish tapas or Levantine meze.

Regional specialities

  • Chiayi: Turkey rice bowls (火雞肉飯 hǔojī ròu fàn) are bowls of rice with shredded turkey layered on top, often accompanied by pickled daikon radish. The rice is drizzled with a kind of gravy made from the turkey drippings and soy sauce.
  • Hsinchu: pork balls, 貢丸 (gòngwán), which are often eaten in soup, 湯 (tang). Rice vermicelli, 米粉 (mǐfěn), are another Hsinchu specialty. They are often eaten 'dry', 乾 (gān, not in a soup) with mushroom and ground pork.
  • Dasi, Taoyuan dried tofu (大溪豆乾 Dàxī dòugān)
  • Taichung: Suncake is the most noted pastries of Taichung. It is baked layered puff pastry with a sweet center often made with honey or molasses. Also, Nagasaki-style Castella and nougats (牛軋糖 niúgátáng, nougat).
  • Tainan City dan zai noodles (台南擔仔麵 Tâi-lâm tàⁿ-á-mī, Táinán dànzǎimiàn), shrimp and meat dumplings (蝦仁肉丸 hê-jîn bah-ôan, xiārén ròuwán), and shrimp crackers/biscuits are among the most notable local dishes. Another popular dish originating in Tainan is "oily rice" (台南油飯 Tâi-lâm iû-pn̄g), a rice dish containing savoury oils and shredded pork meat, mushrooms, and dried shrimp.

Coffin Bread (棺材板 guāncáibǎn) is similar to French Toast or bread bowl soups, but filled with savory fillings, such as black pepper beef or curried chicken. Thick cut bread is dipped in egg, deep fried, cut along three sides, opened and filled, and eaten.

  • Changhua: Ba-wan, literally meaning 'meat circle'. They are a kind of large dumpling made from a gelatinous dough and stuffed with pork and vegetables, most commonly mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
  • Nantou: Yimian (yīmiàn), which is tasty, soft noodles in soup, and Rou-yuan (肉圓, ròuyuán), which is similar to Ba-wan. Rou-yuan's exterior is made of tapioca starch and is filled with mushrooms, thin shredded bamboo, and a meatball. It is eaten with a reddish sweet and sour sauce
  • Tamsui: A-gei (阿給, āgěi), which are deep fried tofu that have been stuffed with crystal noodles and sealed with fish paste and drizzled with spicy sauce on the outside. Tamsui fish ball (魚丸, yúwán), because Tamsui is near the ocean, therefore, it is a good place to try their fish balls, which are balls of fish paste stuffed with meat and garlic cooked in light broth. Iron eggs (鐵蛋, tiědàn), are eggs that have been repeatedly stewed in a mix of spices and air-dried. The resulting eggs are dark brown, chewy and full of flavor compared to normal boiled eggs.

Typical dishes

Blood pudding (豬血糕, zhūxuègāo) on a stick
Many flavors of Taiwanese sausages are sold at a night market vendor
  • jiû-hî keⁿ (Chinese: 魷魚羹; pinyin: yóuyúgēng) - thickened soup with cuttlefish covered in fish paste.
  • ô-á-chian (蚵仔煎, kèzǎijiān) - Oyster omelet made with eggs, oysters, tapioca starch, and Garland chrysanthemum leaves. It has a soft, sticky texture, and is eaten with a sweet and mildly spicy sauce, topped with cilantro. This dish is very common in night markets as it is the most popular snack in Taiwan.[2]
  • ô-á mī-sòaⁿ (蚵仔麵線, kèzǎi miànxiàn), or oyster vermicelli, a thickened soup containing small oysters and Chinese vermicelli.
  • o· bí-ko (烏米糕 wūmǐgāo, me shai [米血] mǐxuè, hēimǐgāo [黑米糕]) - a dish made from pork blood and rice. It is usually cut into a rectangular piece and served on a stick, dipped in soy sauce, with the option of adding hot sauce, then topped with powdered peanut and cilantro.
  • ló·-bah-pn̄g (魯肉飯, lǔròu fàn) - minced, cubed, or ground fatty pork, stewed in soy sauce and spices, then served on rice.
  • tōa-tn̂g pau sió-tn̂g (大腸包小腸, dàcháng bāo xiǎocháng) – small sausage wrapped in big sausage. A Taiwanese snack, common in night market. A grilled Taiwanese sweet pork sausage wrapped in a grilled salty sticky rice sausage. Usually wrapped with garlic and basil. Customer can also choose the flavor they want, such as black pepper, garlic, chili, butter, and chocolate.
  • sān bēi jī (三杯雞, sānbēijī) - a chicken dish which literally translates as "three cups chicken", named because the sauce is made of a cup of rice wine, a cup of sesame oil, and a cup of soy sauce. Alternatively, the sauce can also be made of a cup each of rice wine, sugar, and soy sauce.
  • chhài-pó͘-nn̄g (菜脯卵, càifǔluǎn) - Taiwanese Style preserved white radish omelet.
  • koe-á bah (瓜仔肉) - Steamed pork patty with Taiwanese Style pickled cucumber.
  • (麻辣鍋, málàguō)-Spicy hotpot. It is becoming more and more popular, especially in Taipei. The soup of this hotpot includes lots of Chinese herbs and other special materials. People can cook what they want with this soup. The taste is very spicy, but this kind of hotpot can help you keep warm and feel good in the winter.
  • Eel noodles (鱔魚意麵, shànyú yìmiàn)- Rice eel with Yi mein in a starch thickened sweet and sour soup.
  • A-gei (淡水阿給, dànshuǐ āgěi) - fried tofu stuffed with cooked cellophane noodles and covered with surimi
  • Iron eggs (鐵蛋, tiědàn) - Eggs stewed in soy sauce until they are flavourful and chewy in texture.

Vegetarian restaurants are commonplace with a wide variety of dishes, mainly due to the influence of Buddhism.

There is a type of outdoor barbecue called khòng-iô (焢窯, hōngyáo). To barbecue in this manner, one first builds a hollow pyramid up with dirt clods. Next, charcoal or wood is burnt inside until the temperature inside the pyramid is very high (the dirt clods should be glowing red). The ingredients to be cooked, such as taro, yam, or chicken, are placed in cans, and the cans are placed inside the pyramid. Finally, the pyramid is toppled over the food until cooked.

Many non-dessert dishes are usually considered snacks, not entrees; that is, they have a similar status to Cantonese dim sum or Spanish tapas. Such dishes are usually only slightly salted, with lots of vegetables along with the main meat or seafood item.


  • Bubble Tea, aka boba milk tea; also known as pearl milk tea (珍珠奶茶, zhēnzhū nǎichá) - chewy tapioca balls added to milk tea.
  • Grass Jelly (仙草, xiāncǎo, sian-chháu) - (Mesona procumbens) Served hot or cold.
  • ò-giô-peng (àiyùbīng [愛玉冰]) - a gelatinous dessert, aiyu jelly, made from the seeds of a fig-like fruit, Ficus pumila var. awkeotsang. Served on ice.
  • ō͘-á-peng (芋仔冰 yùzǎibīng, yùbīng [芋冰]) - an ice cream made of taro root paste.
  • Zukak kway (鼠麹粿chhú-khak-ké shǔqūguǒ, 草仔粿, chháu-á-ké cǎozǎiguǒ) - Cakes made with a dough from glutinous rice flour and combine with a ground cooked paste of Gnaphalium affine or Mugwort to give it a unique flavor and green color. The dough is commonly filled with ground meat or sweet bean pastes.
  • Traditional Cakes - They are not always of the same composition depending on the flavor.

There is the Moon Cake which has a thick filling usually made from lotus seed paste or sweetened red bean paste and surrounded by a relatively thin (2–3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. It is traditionnaly eaten during the festival is for Lunar worship and Moon watching. Mooncakes are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the four most important Chinese festivals.

There are other cakes that can mix salty ingredients with sweet ones to create a balance while enjoying these delicacies with tea. The crust could be shiny from applying a layer of egg yolk before putting in the oven, or not in that case it is often whiter and the crust has more layers.

Night market dishes

A partitioned Taiwanese crepe (潤餅, jūn-piáⁿ, rùnbǐng) whose wheat-based wrapper is unfried.
Surrounded by ocean on all sides, seafood has been an important staple in the Taiwanese diet. Here is grilled squid sold at a night market vendor.

Taiwan's best-known snacks are present in the night markets, where street vendors sell a variety of different foods, from finger foods, drinks, sweets, to sit-down dishes. In these markets, one can also find fried and steamed meat-filled buns, oyster-filled omelets, refreshing fruit ices, and much more. Aside from snacks, appetizers, entrees, and desserts, night markets also have vendors selling clothes, accessories, and offer all kinds of entertainment and products.

  • Small cakes - batter is poured into hot-metallic molds and gets quickly cooked into small cakes of various shapes. Countless variations exist. Sometimes the cakes have fillings ranging from cream, red bean paste, to peanut butter.
  • Various drinks are also often sold, ranging from bubble tea stands to various juice and tea stands.
  • Stinky tofu or Fermented Tofu (Chinese: 臭豆腐

General description:

Stinky to-fu is a popular local food in Taiwan and many other Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Shanghai. The reason of why it is called as “Stinky to-fu” is because of its strong unpleasant odour. Back in the Qing dynasty, Stinky to-fu was already a dish in the royal family’s meal. Besides, it is also one of the favourite food of the Empress CiXi (慈禧太后). Stinky to-fu can generally be classified into two main kinds, which are soft stinky to-fu(臭豆腐乳) and dried stinky to-fu (臭豆腐乾).

History and origin:

According to the folk stories, stinky to-fu was invented by a person who named Wong Zi Wo (王致和)in the Qing dynasty . However the versions of the exact story are quite varied.

Soft Stinky to-fu:

Because of failing the imperial examination, Wong Zi Wo stayed in Beijing and relied on selling to-fu to make a living. One day, because of the huge quantity of redundant to-fu, he tried to cut the to-fu into small cubes and put them into an earthen jar. After several days, he opened up the jar and found out that the to-fu had turned into greenish and become extremely smelly. He tasted the “stinky greenish to-fu” and it was surprisingly delicious. And so he decided to sell those “stinky greenish to-fu” as a commodity in his shore.

Dried skinty to-fu:

During the KangXi period, Wong Zi Wo was a to-fu seller as well as a pig feeder. One day, he was making dried to-fu with an earthen jar. After he putted all the seasonings into the jar, he was districted by the pigs and forgot to close the lid, and so the white paint on the wall kept falling into the jar. A while ago, after Wong Zi Wo had settled down all the pigs, the dried to-fu had already turned into the dried stinky to-fu.

The Taiwanese culture of eating stinky to-fu:

Deep fried stinky to-fu:

Deep fried stinky to-fu is a common dish in both Taiwan night markets and restaurants. And before the 90s hawkers even wandered around the street and peddled deep-fried stinky to-fu. In Taiwan, people usually eat the deep fried stinky to-fu with the local sweet and sour pickled vegetable in order to relieve the greasiness.

Spicy stinky to-fu:

Spicy stinky to-fu is a new cooking method of stinky to-fu in Taiwan. Because of the prevalence of spicy hot pot, Taiwanese people came up with a new idea of forming a rich-favoured spicy hot pot soup base by using stinky to-fu, duck blood and Chinese sauerkraut as the ingredients. This innovative cooking method of stinky to-fu is really popular in the Taiwanese society nowadays.

Soft Stinky to-fu:

Soft Stinky to-fu commonly used as a condiment for rice, bread, congee or noodle. It can also be used as a seasoning for cooking.

Stinky to-fu shashlik:

Stinky to-fu shashlik is a popular cooking method of stinky to-fu in the Taipei Shenkeng province and many of the Taiwan night markets. After stabbing the bamboo stick through the stinky to-fu, the “yakitori” is then roasted on the charcoal with the roasted meat sauce. And because of the huge amount of seasonings, the unpleasant odour of the stinky to-fu shashlik is comparatively weaker. Therefore Stinky to-fu shashlik is always recommended for the people who firstly try stinky to-fu.

Other cultures of eating stinky to-fu:

Hong Kong:

Unlike the diverseness in Taiwan, the way of cooking stinky to-fu in Hong Kong is usually deep fry. And rather than eating the deep fried stinky to-fu with the pickled vegetable, Hong Kong people usually enjoy the deep fried stinky to-fu with the sweet source and the chili source.

Mainland China:

The ways of eating stinky to-fu in different provinces of Mainland China are actually quite varied.

• Anhwei(安徽)

In Anhwei, the deliciousness of stinky to-fu mainly depends on its spiciness. The spicier it is, the more it suits the local favour. [3]

• Beijing (北京)

Wong Zi Wo Stinky to-fu shop is a China time-honored brand in Beijing which famous for its soft stinky to-fu.

• Changsha(長沙)

The stinky to-fu in the Fire Palace Restaurant(火宫殿) is an “official representative” of the stinky to-fu in Changsha.

Davidnganlokman (talk) 02:27, 11 October 2011 (UTC)David u4703447

  • Ba-wan (Chinese: 肉圓; pinyin: roùyuán; literally "meatballs") - a sticky gelatinous tapioca dough filled with pork, bamboo shoots, shiitake mushrooms, and served with a savory sweet and spicy sauce.
  • Corn - Vendors may specialize in one type of corn or they could offer varieties between savory/salty and sweet corn. Sometimes the corn is steamed, grilled, boiled, and etc.
  • Taiwanese sausages - fatty pork sausages with a sweet taste. There are several different kinds. Kaoliang is sometimes used in the sausage recipe. In night markets they are often served on a stick with many different condiments. Sometimes, they are wrapped in glutinous rice. In the very early 1980s, when resources were still relatively scarce, the standard serving is one sausage link on a toothpick garnished with a clove of garlic.
  • Scallion pancakes - (蔥油餅, cōngyóubǐng) flour pancake with many thin layers, made with scallions (chopped green onions). A snack originating in the Chinese mainland.
  • Candied Crabapples - red candy coated bite-sized fruits served on a stick. Sometimes the crabapples are stuffed with preserved plums, and then candied.
  • Squid or fish on a stick - often marinated, then grilled.
  • Bao bing - (also known as tsua bing; 剉冰 cuòbīng / 刨冰 bàobīng) finely shaven ice with a variety of toppings (peanuts, fruit, azuki beans, sweetened corn, and so on). Sometimes served drizzled with condensed milk.
  • Tempura (甜不辣 tiánbùlà) - Battered and deep fried vegetables or meat.
  • Popiah (潤餅, jūn-piáⁿ, rùnbǐng), also known as Lunpiah or Taiwanese Crepes, is a semi-crispy super-thin flour crepe filled with a variety of filling, such as powdered sugar, peanut powder, egg, vegetables, pork and even seafood. Taiwanese crepes are the made from the same dough as spring rolls (春捲, chūnjuǎn) in Taiwan .
  • Crepe - Adapted from the original French version, a very thin cooked pancake, it has a much crispier texture, rather like a cracker. Very popular in the early 2000s.
  • Fruit or bean smoothies - milk or ice is blended on the spot with fresh papaya, mango, watermelon, azuki bean, or mung bean.
  • Fried glutinous rice balls - slightly sweet in flavor.
  • Fried chicken pieces - thumb-size chunks of deep-fried chicken sprinkled with white pepper, chilli and fried basil.
  • Shawarma (Mandarin Chinese: 沙威馬 shāwēimǎ) - A sandwich usually made from spiced, grilled chicken and served on a leavened, white flour bun with julienned cabbage, a slice of tomato, sliced onions, ketchup, and mayonnaise. Brought over from Turkey decades ago, the seasoning is quite different from the seasoning used in making shawarma in Turkey.


A small sample of Taiwanese cuisine
Popiah(薄餅, báobǐng) with vegetables and powdered peanuts as filling  
Oyster omelette (蚵仔煎, kèzǎijiān) from Chien-Cheng Circle, Datong District (Taipei).  
A bowl of oyster vermicelli (蚵仔麵線, kèzǎi miànxiàn)  
A plate of bàobīng(刨冰, bàobīng) with strawberries and condensed milk  
Ba-wan served with sweet and savory sauce  
Sun cakes (太陽餅, tàiyángbǐng) in a box  
Danzai mian (擔仔麵, dànzǎimiàn) from Dùxiǎoyuè (度小月) of Tainan  
Meat geng (羹, gēng), a thick soup with tofu and surimi coated pork  
Gongwan and vermicelli in soup (貢丸米粉, gòngwán mǐfěn)  
A-gei served with sauce  

See also


External links

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